A middle-aged black woman sat on her chair outside. She was on her house porch, the veranda consisting of patterns of dark oak wood. The small table in front of her chair holding a few sheets and the classic newspaper. Piña Colada Brown was simply enjoying the weather of today. She had read of today's news and already finished sorting out most of her bills.
Piña's leaving the rest for her husband to sort. It's only fair since they were a team.
The sky wasn't very clear, but there were occasional patches of blue in the white sea of clouds above. It was unlikely to rain despite the many puffs above, which was why Piña remained listening to the chirping birds and the occasional rumble of cars racing down her neighborhood street. There were even a couple children several houses down playing in their yard under adult supervision. In Piña's mind, this further added tranquility to a good day.
Peace and quiet.
The woman breathed in, "Leroy!" She yelled, tilting her head toward the house's open door.
Immediately there was a clash of pans and plastic dishes hitting a hard surface. Nevertheless, a reply shortly arrived. Her husband poked his head through the door, somewhat curious of Piña's calm expression. "Yes, Dear? You need something? Me, maybe?" And her reaction was along the lines of a stern glare. Leroy retreated a little behind the door but still held a goofy smile.
"Hell no," Piña stated with a straight face, but her husband merely laughed.
"Then what the hell is it, ya damn woman?" He chuckled, and Piña gave him a look of disapproval.
"A couple of these bills are overdue, Leroy." She calmly told him, leaning back in the chair.
Her husband blinked. "Yeah? So? We sometimes miss a few. What's the problem?" He scratched the back of his neck.
"Those very same bills are the ones you were supposed to pay for last week!" Piña gave him the stink-eye as he rapidly paled. Leroy's handsome smile dropped, and he fidgeted nervously under her gaze.
"That's weird? Sugar Bear, I'm sure I pai-"
"What's that? I can't hear you over losing our damn house." Piña stared him down. "Now you better get off your ass and get those bills paid, because if we get an eviction notice…" The dark skinned woman trailed off, curling her fingers into a fist. "The first thing I'll do is shove the damn thing up your incompetent ass! You hear me? Leroy!" Her roars of seething warning shook the other to his very core. He knew better than to toss her declarations as lies.
Piña usually followed through with her threats with no problem. He should know since they've been together for decades. It isn't often Leroy was on the receiving end of being tortured by his own wife, but it occasionally happens when he royally fucks up.
Leroy dashed out the door seconds later with a coat on. He just barely caught his wife smiling in approval, and it fueled his movements. A swift hand scooped up several bills, including the overdue. "I'll fix it, Sugar Bear. You just stay put! When I come back, everything will be paid!" He called back, running down the stairs of their veranda and racing to the car. "I'll see you in a couple hours, alright?"
Piña gave him a careful wave, watching her idiotic black man jump into his car and drive off in a matter of forty-five seconds. Now this time there was no one at the residence but her, but the relaxing woman didn't mind at all. While she liked the company, there were times were all she needed was quiet.
And once again, she was left alone in peaceful silence.
Well, not completely alone.
"What do you need, baby girl?" Piña hummed, staring at the sky. In return, she wanted it to rain, as the sounds of water droplets were always calming to her. Her eyes eventually left to a little black girl on a child's tricycle. She wore faded classic overalls with white and lavender sneakers. The old woman turned to give the girl her full attention. Encouraged by Piña's body language, the child continued.
"You shouldn't fight with your husband." The smaller person spoke almost dully, "He might leave you forever." She warned with a child-like innocence which almost hurt to hear.
Piña blankly stared at her before gaining a smile. "What's your name, baby girl?"
"Megan." The girl answered clearly.
"Well, Megan, I trust his dumb-a-him to come back." Piña clasped her hands together.
"What if he doesn't?" Megan asked quietly.
"Then I'll just get along without him." The grown woman simply replied. "We lean on one another, but truth is; either of us can live by ourselves. We both have paying jobs. We're educated, and known by the community. The Church knows us too, and you know they'll be willing to help those who come to the house of God."
"Then why do you stay together if you don't need him?" It appears Megan had a bunch of questions. "How do you stand on your feet?"
"Megan, you speak pretty da-well for your age. How old are you?" Piña inquired with interest.
"Eight, miss." Megan politely answered.
"Eight years old…?" The old woman hummed, nodding twice. "You're pretty darn intelligent for an eight-year-old. Care for some cookies, baby girl? How about we talk about this over some chocolate chips?" Piña kindly offered with a smile. The impassive-looking little girl barely changed her expression, but the old black woman didn't retract her offer.
Megan shook her head, braids moving back and forth with her movement. "Ma said I shouldn't talk to strangers." The child's tone finally adopted a sort of faint innocence.
Piña gave her a look of amusement. "Well, I'm not no stranger. I'm your neighbor. I even know your mother as a fellow church member." She cleared her throat when noticing the twinkle of familiarity sparking in Megan's eyes. "Call me, baby girl." Piña didn't divert her attention away.
"Okay," Megan slowly answered, parking her tricycle by the middle-aged woman's porch. "Ma talked about you a lot." The little girl climbed the stairs with not much trouble, finally joining the woman in another chair. Megan glanced at the wooden floor before glancing up. "She said you barely go to church."
Piña lightly coughed, eyes moving elsewhere. "I've been busy lately. I'll have you know I used to go every week with Leroy!" The woman shook her head. "For some reason, everyone likes to look at other people's lives when they should be minding their own damn business. What a bunch of hooligans." She clicked her tongue with a shake of her head.
"Bad word," Megan mumbled.
"Ah, my bad." Piña frowned. "Enough about me; what about you?"
The little girl with braids blinked up at her. "What do you mean, ?"
Piña softly tapped her fingers on the outside table. The sky remained with its beauty, clouds offering increasing art of nature and its ability to demonstrate everything right about the world's natural normalcy. "What about you?" She repeated with a tiny smile. "What do you plan to be when you're old and grown, Megan?" Her tone morphed into a gentle coax, patient, and firm.
There was a moment of silence as the little girl wondered about her answer.
"I don't know," The honesty stung. "Ma never...I don't…" A light sniffle broke through the breezy air, and Megan slowly rubbed at her eyes. "I dunno…" The little girl mumbled.
Piña released a laugh, tossing Megan a grin. "That's a heavy question, ain't it?"
"It's not!" The child protested. "I just...Don't know what I want to be…"
"That's not it at all." The middle-aged woman told her with a straight face. "It's not that you don't know what you want to be; you just don't know who you want to be." Piña slowly shook her head. "Anyone can answer the 'what' question when you're eight." Let it be a lie, or something really simple. "Listen, baby girl; if you falter in the 'what' question, then you're not receiving the attention you deserve." Which is, quite the shame.
"Does your mama work?" Piña finally asked; a frown present. "All week?"
"She does." Megan obediently replied.
"Is she working now?"
"Yes." The little girl finally averted her eyes, warm brown hues wasted by such a move.
Piña nodded, "Got anyone to help you study, baby girl?" The sudden statement turned the child's body language, and those young browns glanced up at her. There was the faintest spark of hope along with something else the older person couldn't ignore.
"No? My brothers are too busy." Megan sincerely told with a puzzled face.
"How about you stop by every weekend early Saturdays and Sundays? I can tutor you." Piña offered, "And I'll give you cooking lessons too, because baby girl you need proper nutrition. Nuh-uh, don't give me that look. Your teeth say otherwise." Megan hid her tiny pearly whites with her tiny fingers, and the woman by her side gave her a look of amusement.
"I'll need to tell my Ma…" The young girl murmured, a bit hesitant.
"Don't worry about all that, baby girl. I'll take care of it, you hear?"
Megan nodded quietly.
"You hear?" Piña repeated firmly.
"Yes," Megan replied with another nod.
"Good." The woman breathed out. "How about I send you off with some cookies?" The little girl's eyes of curiosity and want to allow a laugh in Piña's throat. "They aren't fresh, but they still taste mighty fine." The woman stood, and Megan nodded swiftly. "I'll be back. Give me a minute." And Piña disappeared in her house only to reappear minutes later.
In all honesty, she expected the girl to ditch at the moment when left alone.
Instead, Megan was relaxing on the chair on the porch, observing the sky. It was almost as if she was mimicking Piña's earlier actions. Either way, the grown woman found it utterly adorable. Usually, children had the habit of insulting her for being old because damn it, wrinkles have been forming on her face. Megan was a sweet girl. Piña could see herself actually teaching her the ways of survival in this wonderful yet fucked-up world.
Piña placed the cookies down, the classic chocolate chip attracting tiny fingers to grasp and hold the dessert. "Dig in," The woman offered as Megan hesitated. "It's not like I'll be eating all this by myself. Leroy might, but he's greedy as hell-heck." She corrected while clearing her throat. "So eat until you're full, baby girl. Then you gotta go back. I'm sure your mother doesn't want you to stay outside for too long."
The child then released her inner demon on the chocolate goodness, and Piña wondered what the hell their parents have been feeding the children. Clearly, it wasn't enough, because the girl finished the cookies faster than Piña has ever seen before.
"Mhm." Megan replied almost breathlessly. "Thank you…"
"You're welcome. Come back anytime if you're that hungry again. I'll give you a few stories to think about too." Piña shook her head. "Remember to stay in school, baby girl. You're young and smart. If we fix your grades; I'm damn sure you'll be successful." The grown woman paused when the little girl with braids beamed at her.
"Bad word, but okay, !" Sunshine smiles and dewy drop eyes of happiness resided in Megan's face. "I'll see you later!" The tiny girl got up, dashing down the porch stairs with newfound energy in order to reach her tricycle.
"You better come back this Saturday, or I'll have to show up at your house," Piña warned. "And fix your face! You got cookie crumbs swarming all over it." The grown woman watched Megan rubbed vigorously at her mouth before beginning to wheel down the concrete path walks with her easy-to-use tricycle. Piña gave the girl a light wave as the other kept paddling in a direction assuming to be the girl's house.
"Bye!" And so the old woman listened to the sound of a squeaky tricycle until Megan was finally out of sight.
"Children these days." Piña sighed, glancing over at the empty pot where the cookies once were. They simply don't eat much, or aren't able to get enough to eat." And both instances were quite sad in their own way.
"So? You decided to tutor her?" Leroy asked out of the blue, and Piña wondered when the hell he got back. He leaned on the door, twisting the keys to finding the correct piece of metal.
"Yeah. Got nothing else better to do, anyhow." Piña smoothly replied. "Why? You objecting?"
"Of course not. Just curious, see?" Leroy smiled. "Need any helping in teaching her?"
"Not from you, no." Piña scoffed.
"Hey, hey, hey...Don't be cold, Sugar Bear…" Her husband seemed to put, pausing to look at her.
Piña laughed. "Give her a few weeks, then you can help. What the hell would you teach her, anyway?" Not that her husband didn't have any talents; he just didn't have the best ones to teach children.
"How to properly love and respect your partner," Leroy spoke straight-faced. The brilliant outside only added to his words, a proper breeze tugging at his coat.
Piña blinked once, twice than lightly snorted. "Damn straight." She stood, "Come on now. Pop that real key in, and let's get inside."
Once back inside; the two shared a glass of wine to celebrate the new addition in their lives.
To Megan Baker, the little girl who would surely be destined for greatness under the wings of both the Browns.
Generous tranquility between the two lovers has never been so great.