A few minutes after that intense meeting with Kylisha, a brooding Gene came out of his office and prepared to leave for the day. Though he mumbled a few words of valediction to her in passing, every last one of them was accented with subtle traces of ire.
Whew! Kylisha mused, breathing a sigh of relief when the main door finally closed behind Gene. She’d never been so glad to see someone leave in her life. She also never expected Gene to take her rejection so hard. Who could have predicted that?
After taking an extra thirty minutes to finish some pending documents and tidy up her desk, Kylisha prepared to leave also. Everyone else was gone. Mr. Rozier had been the last one. He’d prudently locked the front office door behind him and admonished Kylisha to do the same when she left. She would.
Although an independent monitoring company and the extensive alarm system they had were sufficient to protect the property, no security guard had been hired to protect the people yet. Thus there was no one to walk Kylisha out to her car tonight. Mitch usually waited on her, but since this was Wednesday, he had to hurry home and get ready for Bible study at his church. He was scheduled to be one of the teachers this evening.
Fortunately Kylisha wasn’t afraid of the dark or of being alone. In fact, she liked them both for the peace they afforded her.
When Kylisha turned the last piece of office equipment off and headed towards the door, the white-faced clock on the wall said 6:30pm. She was barely five feet away from the door when someone suddenly knocked on it.
Before Kylisha could wonder who it was, she heard her grandmother’s stern voice outside.
“Kylisha Jules, are you in there?”
Aww…man. Not the first ‘and’ middle name, Kylisha thought with dread. Her grandmother only used her first and middle names together when she was really hot about something.
Jacinta Greene was beyond hot today. Truth be told, she’d been hot with Kylisha ever since she moved out and started really avoiding her family. Kylisha only called her grandparents once a week, she only called when Jacinta was not there, and then said only the bare minimum when she was on the phone.
On top of all that, Kylisha stopped attending church services. That was something Jacinta could not tolerate. That was also the thing that made her the hottest and the most ashamed. Especially since people were starting to question her about Kylisha’s sudden disappearance from their church fold.
Although Jacinta didn’t appreciate having to come this far out of her way, she deemed it necessary in order to set her granddaughter back on the right track. She hoped to convince Kylisha to come to church with her tonight and show everybody that she was still heaven-bound. After all, it was Wednesday, which meant that Bible study at Saints On The Rise Fellowship would start in one hour.
Turning to make sure the red sedan in the parking lot did indeed belong to her granddaughter, Jacinta yelled for Kylisha again. “Kylisha Jules, you can’t hide from me forever. Open this door!” She knocked even harder this time.
Kylisha took a deep breath before unlocking the door. “Grandmother, what brings you by?” She tried to sound calm even though she knew she was in for a fight. Her grandmother’s bronze skin wasn’t flushed for nothing.
She’s mad as fire, Kylisha deduced, also noting her grandmother’s flashing green eyes.
As usual, Jacinta was dressed conservatively, yet stylishly. She wore an expensive sun-yellow beaded skirt-set with a matching long georgette duster. Jacinta’s garments, which she bought from a local boutique that specialized in apparel for plus-sized women, were always gorgeous. Yet for all of her fine attire, the expression on Jacinta’s face tonight was downright ugly.
Kylisha discreetly blocked the doorway, not willing to let her grandmother enter the office. Jacinta had a tendency to linger where she was not wanted. In fact, the first time she visited Kylisha’s new apartment, she wouldn’t leave until she’d convinced her granddaughter to change the order of her whole living room, including the pictures on the wall. Incidentally, as soon as Jacinta left, Kylisha changed everything back to the way it was. The way it would stay from now on.
“What have you done to your hair?!” Jacinta asked, her voice almost near a shout. “And please move out of the way, child. It stinks to high heaven out here.”
Jacinta fanned her aristocratic nose, trying to get rid of the smell of garbage trucks due for another thorough cleaning. Unfortunately, that didn’t occur until Friday. For the next two days the crew would just have to continue dousing the vehicles with a disinfectant solution via high pressure hose.
The air is not the only thing stinking to high heaven tonight, Kylisha mused, concerning her grandmother’s rude behavior. As she reluctantly moved out of the doorway, she felt that familiar sense of obligation that often visited her whenever she was around her grandparents, particularly her grandmother.
Why is it so hard for me to stand up to her? Kylisha mused, though she already knew the answer to her question. She’d been raised to believe that she should always, always obey her elders. Besides that, as long Kylisha could remember, no one in their family had ever stood up to Jacinta Greene.
When Jacinta was finally seated, she immediately began her righteous tirade. “Why haven’t you been to church, young lady? Don’t you know that it’s a sin to forsake the assembly?”
Kylisha took a deep breath before responding. “I haven’t stopped going to church, Grandmother. I’ve just stopped going to that church.” She proceeded to pull a set of keys out of her purse, hoping that her grandmother would take the hint and leave.
Jacinta’s eyes widened even more. “What?! Why Saints On The Rise is the finest church in this city,” she said piously. She tilted her chin upwards, causing her strong nose to point sanctimoniously in the air. This was not a faltering profile for the double-chinned woman. Yet it was often the profile that Jacinta showed the world. She thought it made her look more righteous, as if it receiving Christ hadn’t made her righteous enough.
“Saints On The Rise is simply one of the finest churches in the city, Grandmother. God has many churches open in His Name,” Kylisha replied calmly. She was doing her best to remain respectful and at the same time, help her grandmother see things differently.
Since developing her own relationship with the Lord, Kylisha has found a lot of error in some of the things her grandmother taught her over the years. Now she sought to respectfully bring those erroneous teachings to the light.
“Are you being insolent, child?” Jacinta asked, raising her voice an octave higher. It was obvious she was in no frame of mind to be corrected. “And why haven’t you answered my question about your hair? Why would you cut off your glory like that? Your hair is as short as a man’s now.”
“It’s easier to manage this way, Grandmother,” Kylisha replied, self-consciously lifting a hand to her head.
Jacinta squinted in her elegant glasses. “And is that colored lipstick on your face? Eye shadow and eye liner?” she asked, ignoring Kylisha’s response to her last inquiries. “I guess you’re probably having premarital sex now too, huh?” Jacinta looked upwards and raised her right hand towards heaven. “Lord, keep this child from going to hell!” Her voice became even louder.
Just then, Gene came bursting through the front door. A worried look was on his face. He originally come back for the briefcase that he forgot earlier in his hasty departure, but when he saw an extra car outside and heard loud voices coming from inside, he ran to investigate.
“Kylisha, are you okay?” Gene asked, staring at her intently. Although his face bore a world of concern, his voice was tender and soothing like one of Marvelston’s gentler rain showers.
Suddenly, Kylisha knew that everything was going to be all right.
© 2006 by Suprina Frazier
Photo credit and links: