May 22Posted: May 19, 2010
That particular May Friday I ate doughnuts all day long. Mama had bought them at Delta Cream that morning because we had company staying at the house, an older cousin from up north that I didn’t know well and her tall, lanky second or third husband I didn’t know at all. I didn’t talk to them. They were tired from their trip and lay on my mother’s bed most of the day.
I looked at my own twin bed in the room I shared with my sister. I’d never sleep in it again. I pulled another doughnut out of the box and let that thought drift away, not seeming to mind too much.
Dad was at work, my sister was at school, Mama was down at the church with some other ladies from her Sunday School class, smoothing white cloths on long tables, directing a delivery from Mistlow Gardens, spreading ivy, setting out punch bowls, pouring pastel mints into crystal dishes. She was supposed to be in the classroom, teaching special education, but she took the day off. I picked up another sticky doughnut, slipped on my white peau de soie heels below cut-off shorts and cotton shirt, walked out to the front sidewalk, and rubbed the slippery bottoms of the shoes on the concrete to scratch them and provide traction so I wouldn’t slip on the sanctuary carpet. How many times in the past five years had I torn a mad path through the house, run out that same front door under the numbers 807 and down this same sidewalk trying to get a view of the car that had just raced by my house and blasted a horn, wanting to know which boy it was who’d thought about me with a little interest perhaps? That all didn’t seem to matter now. I’d chosen one from far off. He never did that.
He’d be coming by shortly to load my suitcases in his sleek blue Buick Wildcat his daddy bought for him and then he’d go hide it at the Joel’s house so it wouldn’t get marked up with shaving cream words. I dragged out another doughnut and packed Secret deodorant, hair rollers, and Aqua Net. I licked the sweetness off my fingers.
Doughnuts. It’s what I remember most about that day. I ate nothing else. No breakfast. No lunch. No supper. Nothing. But doughnuts. All day.
Then that evening I held onto my daddy’s arm and walked beside him, while Mary Claire Norwood played the organ so loudly and beautifully, as only she could do it, with chimes and bells, and it rang throughout the sanctuary and beyond, and my daddy gave me away. I don’t think he wanted to because he didn’t say much that day.
Doughnuts. Shaped like the gold ring that was placed on my finger. A circle, unending, and vows promising forever. But that didn’t mean too much to the one who slid that Florentine ring engraved with May 22 on my hand.
They say that as we grow up, we learn that even the one person that wasn’t supposed to ever let you down…probably will. He did.
Doughnuts. It’s all I remember now.