Home > The Hate U Give(10)

The Hate U Give(10)
Author: Angie Thomas

I leave it in the microwave until the plastic wrapper swells and pops open. Mr. Lewis eats it soon as I take it out.

“That thang hot!” He chews and blows at the same time. “You heated it too long, girl. ’Bout to burn my mouth!”

When Mr. Lewis leaves, Daddy winks at me.

The usual customers come in, like Mrs. Jackson, who insists on buying her greens from Daddy and nobody else. Four red-eyed guys in sagging pants buy almost every bag of chips we have. Daddy tells them it’s too early to be that blazed, and they laugh way too hard. One of them licks his next blunt as they leave. Around eleven, Mrs. Rooks buys some roses and snacks for her bridge club meeting. She has droopy eyes and gold plating on her front teeth. Her wig is gold-colored too.

“Y’all need to get some Lotto tickets up in here, baby,” she says as Daddy rings her up and I bag her stuff. “Tonight it’s at three hundred million!”

Daddy smiles. “For real? What would you do with all that money, Mrs. Rooks?”

“Shiiit. Baby, the question is what I wouldn’t do with all that money. Lord knows, I’d get on the first plane outta here.”

Daddy laughs. “Is that right? Then who gon’ make red velvet cakes for us?”

“Somebody else, ’cause I’d be gone.” She points to the display of cigarettes behind us. “Baby, hand me a pack of them Newports.”

Those are Nana’s favorites too. They used to be Daddy’s favorites before I begged him to quit. I grab a pack and pass it to Mrs. Rooks.

She’s staring at me moments after, patting the pack against her palm, and I wait for it. The sympathy. “Baby, I heard what happened to Rosalie’s grandboy,” she says. “I’m so sorry. Y’all used to be friends, didn’t you?”

The “used to” stings, but I just say to Mrs. Rooks, “Yes, ma’am.”

“Hmm!” She shakes her head. “Lord, have mercy. My heart ’bout broke when I heard. I tried to go over there and see Rosalie last night, but so many people were already at the house. Poor Rosalie. All she going through and now this. Barbara said Rosalie not sure how she gon’ pay to bury him. We talking ’bout raising some money. Think you can help us out, Maverick?”

“Oh, yeah. Let me know what y’all need, and it’s done.”

She flashes those gold teeth in a smile. “Boy, it’s good to see where the Lord done brought you. Your momma would be proud.”

Daddy nods heavily. Grandma’s been gone ten years—long enough that Daddy doesn’t cry every day, but such a short while ago that if someone brings her up, it brings him down.

“And look at this girl,” Mrs. Rooks says, eyeing me. “Every bit of Lisa. Maverick, you better watch out. These li’l boys around here gon’ be trying it.”

“Nah, they better watch out. You know I ain’t having that. She can’t date till she forty.”

My hand drifts to my pocket, thinking of Chris and his texts. Shit, I left my phone at home. Needless to say, Daddy doesn’t know a thing about Chris. We’ve been together over a year now. Seven knows, because he met Chris at school, and Momma figured it out when Chris would always visit me at Uncle Carlos’s house, claiming he was my friend. One day she and Uncle Carlos walked in on us kissing and they pointed out that friends don’t kiss each other like that. I’ve never seen Chris get so red in my life.

She and Seven are okay with me dating Chris, although if it was up to Seven I’d become a nun, but whatever. I can’t get the guts to tell Daddy though. And it’s not just because he doesn’t want me dating yet. The bigger issue is that Chris is white.

At first I thought my mom might say something about it, but she was like, “He could be polka dot, as long as he’s not a criminal and he’s treating you right.” Daddy, on the other hand, rants about how Halle Berry “act like she can’t get with brothers anymore” and how messed up that is. I mean, anytime he finds out a black person is with a white person, suddenly something’s wrong with them. I don’t want him looking at me like that.

Luckily, Momma hasn’t told him. She refuses to get in the middle of that fight. My boyfriend, my responsibility to tell Daddy.

Mrs. Rooks leaves. Seconds later, the bell clangs. Kenya struts into the store. Her kicks are cute—Bazooka Joe Nike Dunks that I haven’t added to my collection. Kenya always wears fly sneakers.

She goes to get her usual from the aisles. “Hey, Starr. Hey, Uncle Maverick.”

“Hey, Kenya,” Daddy answers, even though he’s not her uncle, but her brother’s dad. “You good?”

She comes back with a jumbo bag of Hot Cheetos and a Sprite. “Yeah. My momma wanna know if my brother spent the night with y’all.”

There she goes calling Seven “my brother” like she’s the only one who can claim him. It’s annoying as hell.

“Tell your momma I’ll call her later,” Daddy says.

“Okay.” Kenya pays for her stuff and makes eye contact with me. She jerks her head a little to the side.

“I’m gonna sweep the aisles,” I tell Daddy.

Kenya follows me. I grab the broom and go to the produce aisle on the other side of the store. Some grapes have spilled out from those red-eyed guys sampling before buying. I barely start sweeping before Kenya starts talking.

“I heard about Khalil,” she says. “I’m so sorry, Starr. You okay?”

   
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