Excerpt from A Dream Deferred

Chapter One

December 1967. Fifteen years ago this month, twenty-seven-year-old Pearl Williams lost the light of her life. Tonight, she lifted her microphone from the stool on stage and waited for the blinding spotlight to engulf her.  She put it to her freshly painted lips and listened for her cue from the house band.  People of all shapes, sizes, and colors turned from sipping their drinks and adding to the smoky haze with their cigars and filtered cigarettes to focus their complete attention on the young woman whose voice never failed to enrapture them.

The sequined dress Pearl wore fit her slender shape with maximum power.  Strings of white pearls draped her honey-brown neck, falling just above her modest cleavage.  Her rings sparkled when the light hit them just right and her slender fingernails were painted blood red.  Her page-boy was curled at the neck, around her small ears and teased into a loose wave for bangs she could toss aside when they tickled her forehead.  She wrapped her hands around the microphone and when the chord she was waiting for sounded, she opened her mouth and sang Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of The Christmas Song  with her own sassy twist that garnered the light applause and admiring shouts of the usual Friday night crowd.

Pearl stepped from the stage and began her slow walk around the room, her smile ablaze with straight white teeth. Her voice was as smooth as butter, caressing the crowd like a tender lover. She  sometimes tapped the top of one of the cheap porcelain Christmas trees that decorated each table and when she reached the larger Christmas tree in the back, she disappeared for a few seconds and came out the other side with one arm raised as she belted out the crescendo of the chorus and held every note with the skill of a practiced songstress.  She soon returned to the stage, knowing she had the crowd in the palms of her hands. It was time to draw them to their feet with Billie’s tune Ain’t Nobody’s Bizz-ness If I Do. They moved their bodies against one another and every so often a careless laugh rang out.

But no one knew the loss that haunted her tonight as she went from song to song nonstop.  She usually could sing herself into paradise, but the heaviness was too great.  She had purposely chosen the final number of the set to perform on the anniversary of her Papa’s demise.  I Cover the Waterfront, poured from her soul like the rush of a mighty river:

Away from the city that hurts and knocks,

I’m standing alone by the desolate docks

In the still and the chill of the night

I see the horizon the great unknown

My heart has an ache

It’s as heavy as stone

With the dawn coming on, make it last

 

I cover the waterfront

I’m watching the sea

Will the one I love

Be coming back to me

 

I cover the waterfront

In search of my love

An I’m covered

By a starlit sky above

 

Here am I

Patiently waiting

Hoping and longing

Oh, how I yearn

Where are you

Have you thought back time?

Will you remember

Will you return

 

Will the one I love

Be coming back

To me?

Her face was glistening with sweat and tears by the song’s end. A subdued audience clapped lightly at first, then with a roar, standing to their feet.  She smiled, bowed and waved to acknowledge their adoration and returned the microphone to its place.  The band continued playing softly and her spotlight went out. Just as quick, her smile faded.

Pearlie. She froze mid-step.  Pearlie.  She answered, Papa?  For a few seconds she scanned the audience, fully expecting to see him with his hands cupped around his mouth shouting: That’s my baby girl! But he wasn’t there. He was never there.  She stared into the darkness and heard the words her mother had spoken when she came home from school that day. “Papa’s dead, baby.  I’m sorry.”

Three Generations

I am working this summer on a three-book series that spans three generations of women: Mother, daughter, and granddaughter. The series was birthed over a decade ago in the form of a short short story called Rise. As time went on, this incredible story became much more. Lydia Green opens the story with a promise to her dying mother that she will leave her abusive husband and “rise” to her full potential. I took the title from the poem by Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise”. When the short short ended, I felt in my soul that there was more. I added to Lydia’s story and eventually created the prequel about Lydia’s mother, Pearl Williams, titled “A Dream Deferred” that takes place in the 60’s. This title is not yet published. I am searching for a literary agent to sell it. I self-published Rise, but I wanted to get out of the comfort zone of Create Space. Now I am writing the rough draft of Lydia’s daughter Nikki’s story tentatively titled “Reckoning”, which promises to be mind-blowing. I believe stories, even fiction ones, hold truth that has the power to move in one’s soul and change one’s path. I will pop in here from time to time with updates. Feel free to comment. I love hearing from everyone. Blessings.

The Voice in the Wilderness

“Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!    Clear the road for him!’ Matthew 3:2-3

John the Baptist prepared the way for the Messiah, the Lord Jesus.  He told the people to repent of their sins and bring proof that they turned from their evil ways: “ Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.”(Matthew 3:8)  To be baptized was not enough.  They had to prove they were walking in a new direction.

When the African slaves were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, they were released from slavery and so dawned the Reconstruction Era. But there was no reconstructing the hearts and minds of their oppressors.  They couldn’t reconcile that former slaves were suddenly put on equal terms to them.  The promise of a new South was quickly broken and ushered in Jim Crow laws.

Today there are no Jim Crow laws that advocate “separate but equal”.  Supreme Court rulings and the Civil Rights Movement took care of that.  But just as the Reconstruction was a short-lived experiment, so the passing of laws barely scratched the surface of racial hatred.  It went underground but it has never gone away.

There are voices crying out for justice and love in this wilderness of hate.  The answering voice must be one of true repentance.  I’m not talking about becoming religious. I’m talking about turning away from sin back to our Creator God.  He told Israel:  “If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” 2Chronicles 7:14. The movement for the healing of America’s wounds must begin in the house of God.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the Beginning

I want to look back at where America’s racial wounding began in order to discern how deep the roots of racial injustice are in spite of passed laws, Supreme Court rulings, and proclamations of unity.  We can cry like the people of Israel in Jeremiah’s day:  We waited for peace and salvation, but no good came, and for a time of healing, but behold, terror!”(Jeremiah 8:15)    In God’s kingdom, the answer is simple: Proverbs 6:14-15: “…there will be no healing or remedy because he has no heart for God.”  America’s collective wound will continue to cause the imprisonment, slavery, and death of brown and black people until the country repents and turns to God.

In his book, American Holocaust, historian David Stannard quotes a professor of modern history at Oxford, Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper, giving his thoughts on the history of Black and Brown people:  “the unrewarding gyrations of barbarous tribes in picturesque but irrelevant corners of the globe, who are nothing less than people without history.  Perhaps, in the future, there will be some African history to teach,’ he conceded, ‘but at present there is none, or very little: there is only the history of Europeans in Africa.  The rest is largely darkness, like the history of pre-European, Pre-Columbian America.  And darkness is not a subject of history.” (Stannard, 1992) Before the Anglo-Saxons ever touched the shores of the Americas, they embraced the lie that they were superior to all others and that their history was the only history worth recording.  They were and still are wrong.

I’ll examine the rage of the oppressed and the cycle of hatred that is perpetuated around the world and contrast it with the everlasting Kingdom of God. God brings together and heals.  He so loved the world that He gave His only Son.   It is written:   But now at this very moment in Christ Jesus you who once were so very far away from God have been brought near [b]by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace and our bond of unity. He who made both groups—Jews and Gentile—into one body and broke down the barrier, the dividing wall of spiritual antagonism between us, 15 by abolishing in His own crucified flesh the hostility caused by the Law with its commandments contained in ordinances which He satisfied; so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thereby establishing peace. 16 And that He might reconcile them both Jew and Gentile, united in one body to God through the cross, thereby putting to death the hostility.” Ephesians 2:13-17.  I will show how race is purely a human invention, conceived by demons.  I believe that race classifications and categories are social constructs to further man’s evil ends.

God is love.  Racism is hate.  Can the wounds created by hate be healed?  Nothing is impossible with God, so my response is a resounding yes.  But healing is available only to those whose hearts are willing to repent.

 

Rise Series

It has been awhile since I last wrote a post.  I have been busy with the ups and downs of life, but writing is the passion of my life,  a gift  to be shared with the world.  I am in the process of creating a three-book series about three generations of women.  It all began with a short short story years ago based on one of my favorite poems:  Still I Rise by Maya Angelou.  I didn’t intend for the story to go much further than the short short.  But it gained a life of its own and now, over a decade later, it has blossomed into three books:  A Dream Deferred, Rise, the Novel, and Reckoning (this title may change, I just started writing it).  Rise, the Novel is already published and is for sale on Amazon.com under Colleen L. Roberts.  Take a look and I hope you will buy a copy.  Meanwhile, I will keep you all up to date on the progress of the books and throw in more recent reflections.

I appreciate all of you who have taken the time to visit my blog and leave a comment.  I promise you, I will read each one.  Take care and blessings until next time.