The Sun Is a Liar
It’s been quite some time since I've awoke early enough to meet the sun coming over the horizon. As I gazed out the window from my bedroom window seat, the sky was cloud free, allowing the warm rays of the sun to kiss my face like a loved one. At that moment a memory of something my grandmother used to say came to me. “A bright sunrise meant a good day.” As a young child it was easy to believe her and as I got little older I remember trying my best to keep believing.
We lived in an apartment at the Harriet Tubman Towers, a low income project development in Raleigh, NC. Before then, we lived with Grams, she rented a two-bedroom house in a slightly better neighborhood. Four years ago we had to move, because Grams died and momma couldn’t afford the rent. Our apartment was a lot smaller than my Gram’s house, but at least Janae and I had our own bedroom. Momma never did the stuff that real parents do. I guess its because she had me at fourteen and with Grams sick most of the time from cancer, she couldn’t teach her how to be a momma. I don’t know, maybe I’m just making up excuses for her, because who taught me? When my baby sister Janae was born I was almost six years old. I remember early one morning I was awakened by Janae’s cry. I tried to fall back to sleep, but she wouldn’t stop crying. I sat up in bed and looked around, momma had a pillow over her head trying to drown out the sound of her cry. I got out of bed, then stood in front of Janae’s crib and stared through the same wooden bars that once confined me until I discovered how to escape. The more momma tried to ignore Janae’s cry the more she screamed. Flipping to her back, she kicked her legs and stretched her arms out and shook, as she turned red with anger. I walked over to momma and tugged at her covers.
“Momma, nae-nae’s crying.” She moved away from me.
I tugged again, “Momma, nae-nae’s crying.”
She pulled the pillow tighter to her head and yelled at me from beneath. Since momma did that a lot, I knew it meant leave her alone. I returned to my baby sister and watched as tears rolled down the sides of her face and into her hair. The bottle of red Kool-Aid momma put her to bed with last night, laid half full where she was unable to reach. I slid my arm through the wooden bars and put it in her mouth. The crying stopped and that was the beginning. Thereafter, when Janae would cry in the morning I was the one who would give her a bottle. Janae learned to crawl and walk quickly, I guest any baby would if they were kept in a crib for most of the day. I became more responsible for her needs; she came to me before she would momma. I didn’t mind too much, at least she had someone to care for her when she was neglected by momma. Grams used to do the same thing for me before she got too sick to do it anymore. In away Janae’s dependence on me made me feel needed and loved. Before she was born only Grams made me feel like that. I guess that’s why I was so mad at God for taking her away from me. When I got a little older, I remembered she was in a lot pain and going to Heaven would help her feel better. Then I understood and was no longer mad with God. I think it was Grams who asked God to give me a little sister, so I wouldn’t be alone after she was gone.
Momma had no problem giving all her attention and affection to the men who came in and out of our lives like the changing seasons. Some of them were ok, but most just took from us and never gave anything. They would eat the little food we had and bring their friends over to watch sports, or play video games, so we hardly ever got to watch TV. Two things about momma’s boyfriends made me mad the most, one, the attention they got from her was attention that should’ve been given to Janae and me, and whenever one would be around for more than a few months or more momma had us call him daddy. I hated that, especially since it made me feel momma could care less if we knew who our real daddies were. Grams told me my real daddy’s parents were in the military and while momma was pregnant with me they were transferred to a military base in Germany. She said, although he was only sixteen at the time, he loved momma and intended to live up to his responsibility. That he wanted momma to go with them, but his parents wouldn’t allow it and he had no other family or money to stay here with her. I heard different from some of the neighborhood ladies. They didn’t like momma, because they said she was a home wrecker and they spread rumors about her and my real daddy’s relationship. That he flipped when momma tried to accuse him of being the father. He denied ever touching her and refused to have anything to do with her. Who knows what the real truth is, people gossip and add their own little bits just to make it more interesting. Besides, who cares which version was true. All that mattered was he wasn’t there for me.
Many times I stood in front of the mirror and tried to imagine myself as a man. I knew it was strange, but there was a good reason, at least for me there was. I didn’t resemble momma, nor anyone in her family, so I must look like my daddy or somebody in his family. When I imagined myself as a man, I got an idea of what my daddy must look like. It’s awful not knowing who your daddy is, it’s like a part of me was missing and the fact momma could care less made it even worse. I thought about what life would’ve been like if he hadn’t moved away. Maybe momma would’ve been a better momma had he stayed around. I hated to dwell on stuff like that, because it hurt, it even made me mad sometimes. Didn’t he care about me, wasn’t he curious, if I was a boy or girl? Didn’t he consider for one minute it would hurt to never know my daddy?
And just like I done with momma I found myself making excuses for his absence in my life, but they didn’t wash over. Because, what it all boiled down to, he was my daddy and daddies are supposed to love and be there for their children. As I reached my late teens the pain still existed, but not as deep. Possibly I learned how to deal with it, or maybe I considered my little sister’s situation. Her daddy was absent too and I don’t think momma even had a clue who he was, so I imagine her daddy issues will be more painful. I knew I couldn’t take away the empty feeling of being fatherless, but I promised myself and Janae I would do all I could to shelter her from the anguish of our dysfunctional childhood, as much as possible. I’m sure by the time she’s my age there’ll be many questions about her daddy that will more than likely remain unanswered.
In my childhood the sunrise in Raleigh was bright more often than not, just as it was a liar, more often than not. Because when it came to good days, they were few and far between.
Copyright © Corey Johnson | Year Posted 2016