The block is forever changed.
It is hot and sticky out. We are all on the stoop of Ebony’s house on 103rd Street; traffic on the block is horrible as usual. The cars are backed up all the way down the next two blocks. The drivers look impatient and some are honking their horns. I am drinking a can of Coke. It is so warm out the can is sweating and the soda is heating up quickly. Ebony’s daughter is on the sidewalk playing with Cassie. Everyone on the stoop is quiet. They are all thinking to themselves.
Everyone has been acting different lately. I can’t blame them. Even I’m different. The world is different. Ebony is gone now; we can no longer hear her “words of wisdom” or watch her dance the way she used to. I’m texting Ashley back, and when I look up I see Shirley looking at pictures of Ebony. Her eyes look glossy as if she is about to start crying. She stops at one picture of Ebony. In the photo, her hair was jet black, layered and straightened. She had a big smile on her face—you could see her teeth. She had on a striped black and white sweater. It was a V-neck and cut low enough that you could see her tattoo of a smiley face, sticking its tongue out on her chest.
Shirley laughs a little. She is still looking at the picture as she begins to speak: “I remember the time Ebony was going to meet up with me and we were going to go to a club. She had on this bright yellow dress. She looked excited, and she thought she looked hot. I asked her what was up with the dress. She said it was new and asked me if I liked it. I told her, you can’t be serious—it looks like a curtain. She adjusted the top of the dress and said, well, this dress wasn’t cheap and I really like it, I don’t care what you think. She went out with her curtain, looking, acting like she was hot stuff, and we had a great time.” Everyone laughs. I sit back and picture Ebony walking around with her head held high, the way she always walked. What I wouldn’t I give to see Ebony in that yellow dress.
Rachel Garcia is a class of 2011 mentee alum from Queens, NY.