Watch the Company You Keep

Submitted into Contest #14 in response to: Someone in the story has a lot of hard lessons to learn.... view prompt



"You keep playing with fire, you're gonna get burnt"

It was something that mama always said to us... It means you keep going back to something that isn't good for you, your feelings are going to be hurt… You keep entertaining negativity or straddling the fence of wanting to please others vs. wanting to move forward in life, and watch just how fast you’ll get burnt out.

My mother was queen of “not holding her tongue back”... For anyone!

She's older now, so she's not as quick as she used to be… However she just as sassy, maybe even sassier.

My mother has 3 daughters

Emily, Ellina, and Emma; who she has raised us all on her own. She always instilled the importance of hard work, dedication and understanding self-worth. We each of course took paths of our own... Some were good, some were bad... And some was just.... Questionable.

But each and every time our mom, Etta-Mae would welcomed us back with her arms wide open...

Mama would always say to Emily, "The life you are living currently is blocking you from the blessings that you won’t allow yourself to have.”

The sad realization is that mama knew all about the street life that Emily choose to live, she knew that she wanted to get a “quick buck.” However, sometimes you have to allow that person to go through things in order for them to learn the hard way. It wasn’t always easy hearing about what your baby sister had done. Mama didn’t know the in depth situations that Emily put herself in, I mean come on though, mama ain’t no fool she had her suspicions. Emily is a very sassy young lady she definitely got that from mama.

But the difference mama and Emily is that mama understood when it was time to let loose and when it was time to hold back. Mama was and still is a very strong woman and doesn't let what people say, do, act or anything else alter her feelings. "Stay firm in what you believe, even if you have to stand alone.” This was probably one of my favorite notions from my mama because even to this day she would mentioned to us to do something that we enjoy, not just for the world to see. I would say that I took the road less traveled… Or mostly traveled… I’m Emma, I’m just your average stay at home mom married to my childhood sweetheart with 2 baby girls to Elle and Elicia. As a stay at home mom, I’m also working on a website for young woman encouraging others, (especially if their first time mothers) that we can all win together!

Right after me, we have Ellina. She’s very quiet, but when she does speak she has a lot to say. Which is ironic that her job is in politics. She loves informing and educating people that we all have the right to use our voices. Ever since I can remember, Ellina had a voice that’s passionate about saving our youth, protecting our future and everything else in between.

Last but certainly not least we have Emily… The rebellious problem child that transferred over into some of her adulthood. She was always angry, always out with the wrong crowd and just always putting herself in harm’s way. She joined a gang as a dare from one of her “so called friends” back in high school, and I guess you could say it stuck with her. She doesn’t know her self-worth and mama feel partially the blame for it because she always had to work to provide for her 3 young girls and since I’m the oldest I was responsible for looking after them.

Once Emily got old enough to move out on her own. She did with her no count boyfriend Jose’. Jose’ really got her into smoking, selling drugs and only God knows what else. Every time she would leave Jose’, she would come back showing us this wad of money he gave her. There was fear that was trapped in my mom and my sisters’ eyes… But there was nothing we could do…

It wasn't until Ellina was put in a situation that she almost couldn't get out of.....

It was late one night as my sisters and I were on our way back from church to our mom's house just to hang out. Have a girl's night...

As we were driving we noticed a car following close behind.... It didn't faze us at first... But everywhere we drove, the car was following our every move... Once Emily noticed what was happening she told us to just pull over...

"Are you crazy" we're not pulling over!

"Just trust me, Emma, Pull over"

As soon as she said "Just trust me, Emma" I knew she was up to no good... The saddest thing was in that moment she had to figure out herself what her next move was.

I slowly pulled the car over with frustration and hesitation... I looked over at Emily, her face was frozen with fear, but also embarrassment of what she has done...

Once I pulled over there was a young gentleman that slowly got out the car and made his way over. When he came to the car, the softly tap on Emily’s side.

The tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife....

Silent night took on a different meaning that night...

"Do you have my money"… (Slowly begins to pull out a gun without caring if he responded or not)

She puts her hands up and immediately shows him the small brown bag that she has under her shirt

"You're late, I should shoot you just because but imma be nice just this one time... The next time... Well there will not be a" next time"

I was about to bluntly say, "And who are you"

But Emily cut me off...

"Listen, Slim... I'm done playing with you and your son’s games... I'm done doing whatever yall ask of me because yall feel as though I have low self-esteem... I'm done putting my life, my loved ones life in danger for a quick buck... I dealt with this long enough"....

"I can find someone who will make what you did for me a pity party...

Slim slowly walks away...

There was no words said among us... Well in fact I don't think nothing needed to be said... It was in that very moment I seen the strength of my sister, the strength I knew she had.

2 years later

Since that moment driving from church to moms house that I noticed a change in Emily's demeanor, and when I say change… I mean it… She doesn’t hang out with those “low-life” anymore. She understands the importance of strength in numbers, knowing your self-worth and standing up for what you deserve. It’s crazy to think that something like this made our relationship even stronger. Sometimes things have to far apart in order for them to come back together much stronger!

November 04, 2019 02:58

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Katherine L
18:26 Nov 14, 2019

i really liked this! i felt that your plot and message was quite heartfelt and i enjoyed reading it. a few things - you could further it’s progress by adding a few commas and periods here and there.


Deanna West
21:28 Nov 14, 2019

Oh okay thank you for reading and giving your feedback. I could have either overlooked the grammatical errors or thought it would fit either way I appreciate you taking the time to read my short story.


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Andrew Grell
17:22 Nov 14, 2019

It's been a long time since I've seen an Iceberg Slim character in a story, so thank you for that. I'm having a little trouble separating voice and vernacular from editing choices, though. I always like a good church/street dichotomy. I think you can tighten up the story, do a close edit, and submit it to journal.


Deanna West
15:40 Nov 19, 2019

Thank you for your comment


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