Excerpt

Part One: Chapter 3

Thank-You

I think Miss Felix real smart and wise. She always sharing her beliefs with me ‘bout how people live in this world. She know from firsthand experience, because she done traveled to a couple places outside the South already. She tell me stories sometimes that make me sad, like how people killing off all the animals in the world with something called pollution. That’s when people don’t got no kind of sense. They minds get diseased and they spread it to the earth and the earth spread it to the animals, and everything die off. She say if people not careful we all gonna die off one day too, cuz everything come back full circle.
“Miss Felix, we been driving for a while now, could you tell me where we going, ma’am?” Miss Felix got a kind of look on her face that I ain’t never quite seen before. It was a face like I get when I find an old penny on the floor. I love finding old pennies. It’s my favorite gift to find. I think God be leaving them round for me, because He or She know just how much I love them. I ain’t got nothing against new pennies; it’s just old pennies make me feel something special in my belly. Even though it’s the same picture of the same man sitting on that penny, his eyes always looking different. The older that penny get, the deeper that man eyes see into my soul, and through his eyes each penny teach me something new ‘bout myself. In this moment, Miss Felix looking just like me, when I’m standing over a rusty, old penny, eyes glistening like it’s a chunk of gold.
“Thank-You, baby, we headed on out to church this morning.” I could feel the excitement bursting out of her mouth, and I wonder if talking ‘bout church does make Miss Felix’s teeth happy. It must, because I could see all of them with that big ole smile she smiling, the missing ones in the back and all. They must love the wind as much as mine do because Miss Felix like to smile too. I understand why she smiling so big. I do love going to church. I have been to so many churches all over this part of the South, each one looking just like the next, sounding just like the next, the familiarity of ‘em all comforting in its own little way.
Every time I get a new fake mama and daddy the first thing they do is take me to church. They take me so they can show me off to their congregation. So people can tell them how blessed they are for taking in a “different kind of orphan” like me. I still don’t know exactly what they mean by different. Miss Felix say that people say those things because here in the South, where we come from, you is either black or you is white, but me, I don’t know what I is. She say I is the exception to all that, because I ain’t got to choose sides. I’m just me.
One time I was playing outside in front of the home, and a little white boy with his white daddy drove by and yelled out “half-breed.” I smiled at them and waved. For the first time somebody gave me a clue to what I was; I just don’t know what my halves be consisting of. When I told Miss Felix ‘bout it, she just shook her head and say, “Baby girl, don’t pay none of them words no mind because we all gotta come from somewhere. It don’t matter what color skin you got, what color your eyes is, as long as you is alive. We all get burned by the sun and wet by the rain.” When she say that she remind me of why I like going to church because hearing all that talk ‘bout people dying and going to hell make me happy to be alive. I like going too because some churches ask me to stand up before they start preaching so that I could say hello to everybody, and I get to share my smile with them. I think that’s my real favorite part.
As we drive, I notice out the dusty windows of Miss Felix’s old beat-up car that the scenery is changing. We driving out of the areas where the houses all broken down, where car parts lay scattered across the barely there lawns, dogs running recklessly after cars with people in ‘em they don’t even know. The longer we drive, the prettier the scenery get. We drive past big open fields with rows of Southern Magnolia trees, recognized by many round here as a symbol for gracefulness and strength, reminding me that summer is here and overflowing with flowers so pretty they making me blush.
I ain’t never seen sights so beautiful like this before. The longer we drive, the more perfect the picture get as it unfolds right before my very eyes, renewing my spirit with each passing glance of something new. I ask Miss Felix if I could roll my window all the way down, and she say yes. As soon as that fresh air overtake my senses and engulf my small little world I feel my cheeks get wet. My tears warm the thin layer of skin they caress as they roll on down, passing every freckle on my cheek on their journey toward my neck.
Miss Felix, feeling the mood in the car shift from exciting to somber, look over at me and say, “Thank-You, why on earth you crying, baby?” I don’t know how to explain it to her. I don’t even know if the words will make sense as they slowly make their way out of my soul, assembling on my tongue to speak about things I ain’t never seen, to speak about faith. I say, “Miss Felix, I’m crying because I feel like if we stopped driving the car and walked over into that field of trees bursting with all them flowers, we may realize that we ain’t never need go to church again. Because God lives in the beauty of all those things, in every flower born on every tree. Like God lives in every one of my freckles, or in the eyes of every baby you help, like me.”
Miss Felix looked stunned for a moment, and I thought she was gonna say that I was blasphemous, because I been told that before by other fake mamas and daddies when I say something that don’t make sense to them ‘bout God. But instead, my social-worker mama let out a small sigh and allowed her kind eyes to embrace the tears that gently rose their way up from the well that dwells deep within her soul. She put my hand in hers, and we continued our drive all the way to church in silence, appreciating each other, our tears, and appreciating the God that don’t live inside the church building, instead, embracing the God that we find on the way there.