"SO WHY'D YOU LEAVE HOME LIKE THAT?" I asked Chevette at the all-night hamburger stand on Beverly.
She'd ordered a chili burger and fries. I nursed a cream soda.
"They wouldn't let me do nuthin'," she whined. "Daddy want me to wear long skirts and ponytails. He wouldn't even let me talk to a boy on the phone."
Even in a potato sack you could have seen that Chevette was a woman. It had been a long time since she had been a member of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
I drove her to my office and let her sleep on my new blue sofa while I napped, dreaming of Bonnie, in my office chair.
In the morning I called Martel and told him everything except that Chevette was listening in.
"What you mean, walkin' the streets?" he asked.
"You know what I mean."
"You still want her back?" I asked.
"Of course I want my baby back."
"No, Marty. I can bring her back, but what you gonna get is a full-grown woman, not no child, not no baby. She gonna need you to let her grow up. She gonna need you to see what she is. 'Cause it won't make a difference her bein' back home if you don't change."
"She my child, Easy," he said with deadly certainty.
"The child is gone, Marty. Woman's all that's left."
He broke down then and so did Chevette. She buried her face in a blue cushion and cried.
I told Martel I'd call him back. We talked three more times before I got all the way through to him. I told him that it wasn't worth it for me to bring her back if he couldn't see her for what she was, if he couldn't love her for what she was.
And all the time, I was thinking about Bonnie. I was thinking that I should call her and beg her to come home.
Copyright © 2007 by Walter Mosley
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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