by Susie N. McCray

I was rocking the baby, trying to soothe him, but I knew that his earache was getting worse.

"Where is Phillip's medicine?  It wasn't in his bag," Jarvis yelled into the phone. This is the second time that you've forgotten it.  Do I have to go into your house and pack his bag myself from now on?"

That's what you get for having a baby by a young, dumb, white girl, I wanted to say, but I didn't.  I was his wife and wives were supposed to be supportive, no matter how dumb their husbands were.

"Now when I sue you for full custody you're gonna say that I'm being low down.  Whatever.  Gennifer, just drop his ear medicine off at mom's house and I'll go get it."

I decided to take Phillip into the kitchen to find him a snack to get his mind off of his pain.  Before we reached the doorway, Jarvis screamed, "I bet' not give you my address, you think I want to deal with all of your drama again?"

I sure didn't.  I almost got locked up fooling around with that broad.  I told her I was there for him before she got there and that I'll be there when she was gone, so she got hot.  Hell, it was the truth.  Jarvis and I had known each other since ninth grade.  We weren't high school sweethearts or anything but we were good friends.  If we had not lost contact a little after graduation, she would have never gotten into the picture.

When he told me about Gennifer, I figured they would get married but she turned out to be too crazy for him to handle, so he had to cut her loose. Unfortunately, she was pregnant when he'd called it quits.  I told him to try to make it work with her but he didn't want to, saying that he should have been with me in the first place. So there I was, Mrs. Jarvis Anderson, a.k.a. Boo Boo the Fool, trying to make the best of a very awkward situation.

"Sonia, come ride with me," Jarvis said walking into the kitchen.  "I might go kill that girl if I go alone."

"Okay.  I wish you wouldn't let her upset you so much," I said handing the baby to him.  I went to the living room closet to get our jackets.  I put on my jacket and took Phillip from Jarvis, giving him his as well.  Jarvis watched me as I got Phillip ready.

"I think you take better care of my son than his dumb mama," he said as we got into the car.

"I love this handsome little guy.  I mean he looks just like you, except he's more light skinned, has nicer hair, and prettier eyes."

"Are you trying to put the moves on my boy?"  I just giggled and hugged Phillip.  I was glad Jarvis was back to his old self again.  He and I hardly ever argued, so it was unusual for me to see his bottom lip poked out.

It was too bad that our good mood didn't last long.  Gennifer's car was still in Mrs. Phyllis's driveway when we pulled in front of the house.  It looked as if Gennifer was getting ready to back out, but I'm sure she made it her business to be there when Jarvis got there on purpose, hoping to get a few moments with him, without me around.  Oops, her bad.

Jarvis blew the horn to get her attention.  As he walked over to her car, I could tell that Gennifer was getting ready to chew Jarvis out.  I hoped he would keep his composure.

"What do you want?  And why doesn't your wife have my baby in the child seat?  Is she trying to kill him or what?" she yelled loud enough for me to have heard her in our backyard six blocks away.

When Jarvis looked back to see if I heard her, I was getting out of the passenger seat, so I could put Phillip in the back.  As soon as I sat him down, he began to whine.  "He needs his medicine," I yelled to them.

"Bring me my baby, he just misses his mommy," Gennifer said impatiently.

I picked Phillip up and walked over to Gennifer as she got out of her car. When I put the baby in her arms, he began to cry louder.  By the time Mrs. Phyllis had let me in the house, the baby was on the verge of bursting a blood vessel.

"What's wrong with that child?  He looks like he's fighting for his life. Look how he's clawing at that gal's face."  I picked up the medicine bottle from the coffee table and went to stand behind Mrs. Phyllis.  We both giggled when Gennifer thrust Phillip into Jarvis's arms.

"What have you been doing to him?" she yelled, nearly in tears.

"We've been taking care of him and loving him, the way you should be doing."

Phillip calmed down and looked over his little shoulder at his mother.  His small hand went up to his earlobe and began twisting and turning it.  I took that as my cue to return outside and rescue both of my men from that woman, before things got any worse.

"Can you have kids?" Gennifer burst out, as I approached them.

"Why do you ask?" I responded, as I put the drops in the baby's ears.

"I was just wondering if you were going to have any children of your own or if you were just going steal my son away from me."

I would be a much better mother than you, I wanted to say, but one look at the expression on Jarvis's face said not to even go there.  I took Phillip to the car and fastened him in the car seat.  I handed him his sippy cup from his bag.  He looked out of the window and watched his parents as he drank his juice.  It was a good thing he wasn't old enough to feel embarrassed by his mother.  I envied his innocence.

It was Phillip's third birthday; Mrs. Phyllis and I were out in her backyard putting balloons and streamers on the wooden privacy fence.  We were waiting for Gennifer to bring Phillip over so we would have him ready before his little daycare friends arrived, but she was late, as usual.  Jarvis had not made it either, but he had called to say he would have to work a little later.

The party was well underway, when I received a phone call that I felt would send me to my maker.  The police told me that Jarvis had been dropping off one of his co-workers, when a motorcycle got into his lane, coming down the wrong side of the street.  Jarvis dodged the guy and ran into a large tree that pretty much totaled his truck.  My sweetie was unconscious.

"Phyllis," I screamed, trying to keep my composure, but failing miserably.

"What is it, baby?"  I just handed her the phone.

Once I had gotten myself together and sent everyone home, Gennifer and I got into the car.  We rode in silence except for her crying.  Mrs. Phyllis stayed at the house with Phillip.  I drove because I was the more coherent one.  I felt as if I had drunk a bottle of Novocain that made my whole body numb.  I wanted to smack Gennifer, and put her out of the car, for all of her melodramatics, but I controlled the urge.  I did feel sorry for her because she was alone, except for Phillip. I didn't know much about Gennifer, but I did know that her attitude had a lot to do with it.

The doctor didn't want me to see Jarvis at first but when I got through cuttin' a shine, they let me in.  They wouldn't let Gennifer come, because she wasn't part of his immediate family.  I don't think she would have been able to see him like that anyway.  I nearly stopped breathing when I laid eyes on him.  One of his legs was up in a sling and his handsome brown face was covered with cuts.  I dropped to my knees, and prayed until the nurse came to tell me it was time to go.

When I explained Jarvis's condition to Gennifer she cried twice as much as she had earlier.  "What are Phillip and I going to do if something happens to Jarvis?  I can't take care of him by myself.  I know I give him a hard time about everything, but I still care about him."

"Gennifer," I said putting my arms around her shoulders.  She looked up at me surprisingly.  I was surprised myself.  "No matter what happens, and Lord knows I hope he'll be all right, but if something does happen to Jarvis, I'll always be there for you and Phillip."


"No buts.  When I married Jarvis, you and that little boy became my family too, and I could never turn my back on you."  That girl was speechless for the first time in her life and it made me smile through my tears.  We sat there and held each other for a long time.  I felt all of the animosity that had been between us melting away.

Jarvis came out of his coma after a week and a half.  When Gennifer and I went to pick him up, he did a double take. "What's the business?  Y'all must have gone crazy while I was half dead."

"No, we just came to an understanding."

"What kind of understanding?" Jarvis asked suspiciously.

"That if you died, we would move in together."

"What in the world."

"Just kidding, baby, calm down," I said, kissing his face.

"We called a truce.  I'll try not to give her a hard time, and Sonia will try not to kick my butt if I slip up," Gennifer said.

"It's about time.  Does that truce extend to me too?  I wanted to bust your head a couple of times myself."

"Dang, y'all violent," Gennifer laughed.  "Yes, I promise not to get you riled up either."

Who knew that Gennifer and I would have become friends?  She had hated me since day one.  I really thought that she would revert back to her old ways after a while, but she didn't.  I guess she finally understood that there was no reason for us to have any animosity against each other because Phillip was the most important person in all of our lives and it was important for us to get along, for his sake.

Susie:  My mother cutivated a love of reading in me at an early age, and because of that, I wanted to be a writer myself.  I've been writing short stories and poems since elementary school.  This is the first short story that I've had published but I have had several poems published at
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