Common Grounds and Various Teas | Black Writers Week


What can I do?

My Mama is the only altar I’ve ever worshipped. Who do I ask to save her? My Tattle App buzzes with an incoming video call. I don’t know why I answer but I do.

“Auntie Wah,” I whimper.

“Auntie Wata,” my aunt stresses the correction. “Did they end her?”

 Mama continues to fight but–even if I try to be optimistic–she’s losing. I shudder.

“Did they end her?” Auntie Wata demands. “Not yet,” I say. I’ve never felt fear but it has me now.

“Look at me,” her voice is harsh. “The steamboat doesn’t have the magic to get Coyote and Spider there in time. And John Henry’s hammer isn’t fast enough.” Her spectral image rises up and out of my phone. “You gwaan help your mama.”

“How?” I ask.

“The Oblits bind our tongues in order to erase us,” she says. “Tell her story so they cannot devour her.”

“I don’t know her story.”

 “Because you don’t listen, bebe.” Auntie Wata shakes her head, “You were raised in our light but you do not see our shine.” When I’m silent, she says, “Make something up! How can we–black, brown, and golden–go on if we are silenced?”

Am I allowed to make up my own stories, ones that are mine? I’ve never thought of that before. But if I can then…

I swipe to open a new story on Tattle. Using a sketch I drew of Mama, I tell my followers about a charming, legendary, wild-haired, badass, black rabbit from the South. The response is immediate.

11 likes and the sound rumbles back into the shop. 8 comments and Mama’s laugh bubbles up from beneath the pile of attackers.

1440 likes, 401 shares, 88 comments. Unwritten bodies smash into the walls. The tea goes flying.

As my story goes viral, Mama fights her way up from under The Oblits. Spinning, she shreds the last line of the onslaught. This time the confetti is a celebration.



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