In the Robinson Room, three girls leaned against a second-floor windowsill, watching the boys playing basketball down in the parking lot. There was one adult out there, the new youth minister. He wasn’t that old, but what he lacked in skill, he made up for in height. He towered over the thirteen and fourteen-year-old boys who ran circles around him.
“I don’t see what the big deal is. We all know the bible.” Trina applied a thick coat of roll-on lip gloss, filling the air with the scent of bubblegum.
Andrea took her lip gloss from Trina. “No, he really like knows the bible. Like every word of it. By heart.” She rolled on lipgloss, smacked her lips, and offered the bottle to Glory.
“That’s impossible,” Glory rolled the sweet greasy ball over her top lip, and then rubbed her lips together. She made a mental note to wipe it off before her mother finished choir rehearsal. “Nobody can know the bible by heart. And which one? There’s a lot of different ones—.”
“Yeah, and my daddy said he knows them all.” Andrea accepted the bottle back from Glory and put it down in her bra.
“Well, I don’t care how much bible he knows,” Trina blew a small bubble with pink bubblegum, “he is fine! I bet I get him before y’all.”
“You can have ‘im.” Andrea blew a bigger bubble than Trina’s.
“Trina, why would a twenty-something-year-old man want a fourteen-year-old? Glory asked, trying and failing to blow a bubble of any size. “That’s just gross.”
“Because I know how to rock his world.” Trina boasted. “And I’m fifteen, so I know some things y’all too young to learn yet.” Trina stood up straight, with her chest out and her hands on her hips. “Y’all just little girls, but I’m woman enough for Mr. Malcolm the Miracle Man.”
Glory and Andrea looked at Trina, then looked at each other and burst out laughing.
“Laugh all you want,” Trina said. “Y’all just watch me.” She flounced out of the room.
Glory shook her head. “Why does she walk like that? She’s gonna hurt her back?”
“Her back’ll be fine.” Andrea snickered. “She lays on it enough!”
Both girls laughed out loud and quickly quieted down when they heard heels clicking in a nearby hallway. A few seconds later, they watched Trina switching across the parking lot to the basketball court. A bottle of pop in her hand. She walked straight up to Malcolm and held out the bottle and shrugged. Malcolm smiled a little and took the bottle from Trina and opened it and then handed it back to her. Trina didn’t take the bottle back, she placed her hands over his, threw her head back, and slowly turned the bottle up.
“Oh my God, would you look at her?” Andrea moved to open the window. “She’s such a tramp!”
Glory pushed down on the window handle. “No! Let her make a fool of herself. She deserves it.”
The two girls watched Trina slowly turn to walk away, as a dirty orange basketball came flying and landed against her backside, causing her to stumble and dirtying her tight yellow dress. They could hear Trina scream something rude, and JT yelling that girls weren’t allowed on the court. Glory and Andrea slid to the floor, doubled over with laughter.
“Y’all sound like a couple of hyenas! What’s so funny?”
The two girls stood up and Andrea turned around. “Hi, Mrs. Bishop!” Andrea said, struggling to catch her breath. “We were just watching the boys playing basketball with Malcolm.”
“Yeah,” Glory said. Furiously licking her lips, praying that she could get all of the shiny sweet lip gloss off before her mother demanded that she turn around.
“Glory, you know you ain’t supposed to be in here watchin’ no boys. Turn around! Look at me! Where’s yo’ bible at?”
Glory looked left and right, then remembered that her bible was across the room and she’d have to pass her mother to get it. She licked her lips some more and then moved to rush past her mother and get to her blue denim covered bible. Mary grabbed her daughter’s arm before she could get by.
“I said look at me! Whas’ on your mouth?”
“Nothing.” Glory lied. “Just Chapstick, that’s all.” Glory looked away from her mother, praying Mary accepted her explanation.
She didn’t. “That ain’t no doggone Chapstick! That look like that shiny lip gloss stuff.” Mary’s grip on Glory’s arm tightened. “You been playin’ in makeup girl? Answer me!”
Glory looked up at her mother. “It’s not really makeup, Ma. It’s just—”
The backhand knocked her to the floor.
“Paintin’ yo’ face, and now you lying to me too!” Mary bent down, grabbed a handful of Glory’s hair, and pulled her to her feet, shaking her head with every word. “You will not be a Jezebel in this life! Ya’ hear me! Answer me!”
“Yes, ma’am.” Glory whimpered.
“Now go clean that mess off yo’ face!” Mary turned around, looking left and right. “Almost made me forget what I come in here for!” She grabbed her choir robe off of a chair and stormed out of the room.
Glory stood still, staring straight ahead, willing herself not to cry. It was bad enough that Andrea had seen the slap. Glory was not about to add crying to the inevitable gossip.
“Glory,” Andrea spoke softly, coming around to stand in front of her friend. She gently grabbed Glory’s hand, but Glory snatched it away. “Glory, your lip is bleeding.”
“Leave me alone.” Glory whispered.
“Let me get you a napkin—”
“I said, leave me alone.” Glory felt her lip swelling and sucked the blood from the small cut. She didn’t look at Andrea. She just turned and left the room going in the opposite direction of her mother.