It seemed Marcella’s teen aged son was purposefully ignoring her latest rant, his eyes and full attention given to the house across the street, and this angered her even more. She’s spent her entire day shouting and repeating herself to numerous individuals who constantly showed they held no respect for her, and the last thing she needed was to feel that type of attitude in her own home.

“Gavin!”

“Ma’am?”

“Did I not tell you when I left this morning that I wanted this house cleaned up? Just because you are out of school, that does not mean you had to be or should be lazy.”

“Mama…”

“I also told your lazy behind to take that chicken out of the freezer! I called you and you lied and said you’d done it. Where have you been the entire time I was gone? Outside, running up and down the street?!” Gavin took a deep breath, looking up and towards his mother with apologetic eyes. It was written all over her face. She was exhausted, overworking herself as of late to cover a slew of unexpected expenses thrust upon them. “I just asked you to do two simple things.”

“And I finished one, Mama. Well, I didn’t finish the living room but I cleaned everywhere else. And I was going to take the chicken out after you called me, but then Grandpa called and said don’t cook anything today. He had fewer guests than expected and he’s bringing a lot of food over.”

“Boy, you-“

Before she could finish, Gavin pointed towards the end of their driveway at the sound of rough sputtering, a relieved expression dancing across his face. A beat-up, rusted red truck pulled up, his grandfather in the driver’s seat with a sour look on his wrinkled face. In the passenger seat, his grandfather’s long-time girlfriend sat with her nose turned up. “See, there he is.”

Marcella sighed, lifting her hand slightly to wave and acknowledge her father and the woman vying desperately to be his next wife. “Lord knows he’s had better choices, I don’t know what he sees in that woman.”

“I never believed witches were real until I met old Prune Face.”

“Gavin, hush. I might not like the gold digger, but you can’t go around speaking ill of your elders. You cut your days short like that.”

He shrugged, standing up. “I was just saying what you were thinking. I’m going to go and help.” Straightening out the t-shirt he wore, Gavin swiftly made his way down the driveway, smiling wide as he called out to his favorite, cantankerous old man. “What’s happenin’, Gramps!?”

“You young brats annoy me with these ‘greetings’ you toss out.”

“I do it just to upset you, Sir. Here, let me grab a couple of those boxes for you.”

The old man slammed the driver’s door, holding up his hand to stop Gavin. “Get back, you stay your behind away from this here truck. My hands and legs work perfectly fine, and my back and hips ain’t been thrown out yet; I got it. I’ll bring it all in myself.” Gavin threw his hands up, shaking his head before focusing his attention back where it had been most of the day. The house across the street.

All day long, there had been moving trucks, with burly men moving furniture and boxes. But not once had the teenager seen the figures and faces that would be moving in. “Drop the tailgate down for me, since you walked yourself on over here anyway.” Gavin swiftly did as his grandfather asked before leaning against the truck. This gave him a change to gather a better view as a station wagon crept down the street and eventually pulled into the mystery driveway. It remained parked for a few short minutes before one of the back doors opened.

The first to step out was a little boy, couldn’t have been no older than seven. Arms full of action figures, he took his time closing the door before taking big steps up to the porch of the house. He set his toys down, looked around, and nodded his head once as if giving his approval.

Then, there was a woman that looked to be about his mother’s age. She wore a uniform much like the one his mother always wore; a waitress or hostess. All she carried was a simple little bag, hoisting it over her shoulder as she gleefully twirled a set of keys in her hands. Gavin could hear her chant over and over that the home was theirs, something she felt proud to say they owned.

Lastly, from the front passenger side, a long and slender pair of legs made their debut. Though dressed down and plainly, he could see the sullen way of movement belonged to a teenage girl. Her face held a look of annoyance, the shrug she gave telling her mother and brother that she was less enthused than they were. Holding on to nothing more than a tattered baseball cap, she took a seat on the steps of the porch and remained still while others moved rapidly around her.

Certain that his mother was in the house and occupied with his grandfather, Gavin took slow and even steps as he approached his new neighbors’ home, checking himself along the way to make sure he looked presentable. A quick breath test, light picking at his unkempt afro, and a mental check of his thoughts so that he wouldn’t come off as a bumbling fool.

The little boy came charging out the front door, making one of his action figures fly as he ran in circles. He paused for only a moment, waving, before he went back to minding his own business. And then the girl looked his way, tensing a bit as he approached.

He smiled coolly, uttering the first word that would change everything. “Hi.”

“Hello.”

“I’m Gavin and I live across the street. I hope you don’t mind but, I wanted to come and introduce myself.”

“I’m Yvonne, nice to meet you.” Their eyes locked, something stirring within the both of them as her frown became a subtle grin.

From across the street, Gavin heard his name. Turning, he caught notice of his mother standing next to his grandfather’s truck with her hand at her hips. “Could you not harass people when they’re barely even settled in? Come on in this house, because I’m still not done with our conversation.”

“Okay, Mama, I’m coming.” He covered his face, a bit embarrassed at how loudly she chose to speak.

“The louder moms are, the more good they mean in their actions and words.”

“Oh yeah?”

Yvonne signaled towards the door behind her. “It’s how I justify everything my mom does and says that leaves me with a flushed face in front of others. Your lucky, you’re not that fair so it takes a while to show on your face.”

“Have you all moved here for good, or just for a little while?”

She played with the tattered cap in her hand, twisting it a few times before she spoke again. “For good, I hope. I think I’ve moved more than army kids do. It’d be nice to stay put for once, have an actual home. It’s it nice here? Fun?”

Gavin shrugged, standing straight as he willed himself to head back before his mother could call his name again. “It’s alright, I suppose. Make a few good friends, play a sport or find a hobby, it won’t be too bad of a place to live. Anyway, I better go. Welcome, and I hope you and your family enjoy it here.”

“Thanks. See you around.”

“Yeah, see you.”

He stumbled a bit, catching himself before running back towards his own home just as Marcella fixed her mouth to shout again. He dashed past her and into the living room with a pleased expression on his face, and all but the cleaning he was about to complete on his mind.

______

First I want to say thanks for reading! What you’ve just read is an unedited intro to a new story/novel I’ll be sharing soon.

It’s currently titled “Mama Don’t Preach” and it will be available to read on my Wattpad. The title, as well as this intro, may change (so if you decide to read or follow along with the full book, this intro may be slightly different there once I finally post it).

I hope you enjoyed, and if you follow along I hope you enjoy what’s to come with this story/novel.

One thought on “Mama Don’t Preach (Intro) by Cortney Joseph #ShortStoryAugust

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