When It All Falls Down(9)

By: Tamicka Higgins



“Girl, what you doin’?” Sharli asked when Ayana answered the phone.

“Girl, worried sick out of my mind,” Ayana responded. “I don’t know where Tramar went to this morning.”

“What you mean you don’t know where he went to, girl?” Sharli asked. “I don’t understand what you mean.”

“Girl, we got a hotel room last night,” Ayana explained. “And this morning, he woke me up to tell me that he was going to Bob Evans to get some breakfast. I was like okay, that’s coo. He left and never came back. I been callin’ him, and he ain’t returned none of my calls.”

“Uh, oh,” Sharli said. “You betta hope that one of those police ain’t pick him up or shoot him or somethin’. You know how those police are shootin’ niggas left and right these days.

“Sharli,” Ayana said. “Girl, don’t say that. Anyway, what you doin’?”

“Just got up myself and remembered that I needed to text you back from when you texted me the other day,” Sharli said. “Shit, if you want to, you can come through for a minute if you not doin’ nothin’ today. You know you welcome over here.”

Ayana thought about it for a moment. While Sharli was her favorite cousin in the entire world – practically her best friend, really – she didn’t really care for where she lived. She lived in one of the roughest parts of Chicago. Not to mention, her part of the family was extra hood and always had some stuff going on.

Ayana saw that the train was pulling up. Making a split-second decision, she told Sharli that she would be over to her house within thirty minutes. Sharli said that would be just fine, and the two of them hung up. Ayana got onto the train, checking her phone every so often to see if Tramar had returned any of her calls or texts.

The train ride seemed twice as long as the anticipation and worry built inside of Ayana. Whether or not she wanted it to do so, Ayana’s mind took her thoughts every which way. She began to wonder if Tramar had even truly gone to Bob Evans to get any breakfast. Was Bob Evans supposed to be a cover up for him messing around with another chick? Did he fall asleep wherever he went?

Ayana could come to no real conclusion. She hadn’t even received so much as a text message in response to any of her efforts to call Tramar. At each train station, she would look into her phone, waiting on the NEW MESSAGE icon to pop up on her screen—waiting to see if she had a MISSED CALL alert. There were even moments, when the train was rolling over bumpier than usual tracks, Ayana had mistakenly thought that her phone was vibrating. Upon finding that not so much as a new email had popped up, she was yet again disappointed. She continued to worry and wonder with little information to work with.

As the train was pulling up at Ashland Station, Ayana opened her text messages. Since Sharli’s neighborhood was rather rough (at least to her), Ayana decided it’d be best to let her cousin know that she was getting off of the train at the nearest station to her house. From the station, the walk to Sharli’s block was about five or so blocks. Ayana felt all right about walking through the neighborhood at midday on a Saturday. Considering how many of the people in this hood lived their lives, it simply wasn’t likely that they’d be up and moving about at this “early” hour on the south side of Chicago.

Just as Ayana was opening a new text message, her eyes caught a glimpse of Sharli. She was standing out on the platform as the train was coming to a halt. The two smiled at one another and waved. Once the train had fully stopped and the door opened up, the two cousins met at about halfway between the two edges of the long blue-painted train station. In the distance behind them, the Downtown Chicago skyline rose toward the clouds. A thin layer of smog sat over the city, the sun managing to break through and brightening things up a bit.

“Girl, I can tell you worried,” Sharli said after she hugged Ayana. She looked her first cousin up and down and just knew something was up. At twenty-two, Sharli was only a few months older than Ayana. Sharli was what many would call ghetto and fabulous while still being classy. If there was a new wig on the market, she would be wearing it to see how it looked on her, as well as how people out in the streets received it.

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