The Beauty Inside: A Teenage Story
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P.O. Box 6327
Portsmouth, VA 23703
Email: [email protected]
I hate to hear Mom and Dad argue. They can’t ever get along. Sometimes, I wish Mom and Dad would just leave each other. I mean, at least I would get some sleep at night. I am tired of the hospital visits, the waits in the waiting room, and the lies that they make me tell the doctor.
As much as I love my dad, I hate him at the same time. I hate what he has done to my mom. I hate what he has done to me. I hate what he has done to the family. My 15th birthday is in two days, and I wish I lived on another planet.
It’s starting to get harder and harder to drown out the sounds of glass breaking, chairs being thrown, and the screaming.
I thank God for you, Diary. I am so happy that I have you.
“Stop, Daddy! Stop! She’s down! She’s not moving!” Kiah screamed and pulled on her father as he continued to slap her mother over and over again. “Stop it!”
Kiah’s mom was lying on the floor and looking lifeless. She ran over and shook her mother the way she shook a dirty rug. “Momma? Get up! Look what you’ve done now! I told you to stop!” Kiah screamed at her father as he stormed out of the house. “Momma? Wake up!”
Kiah was fourteen years old and an only child. Her mother, Toni, was a shell of her former self. She was one of the hottest women in the 757. She was a homecoming queen and an honors graduate who received a full scholarship to Hampton University’s engineering program. It was quite sad to see the person Toni had become. No one would’ve guessed she once had all of those things going for her. If you asked the rest of the Mason family members, most would say that Toni changed when her mother passed away. She dropped out of college during her junior year, met Aaron, Kiah’s dad, and then it all went straight to hell. Aaron became both the mother she lost and the father Toni never had. She was never the same once she took his last name.
Aaron was a small-time drug dealer and ten years older than Toni. He came from a middle-class family and grew up in Virginia Beach. Aaron didn’t have to sell dope, but it was fast money and made him popular among all the women. When he met Toni, he became smitten with her undeniable beauty. It wasn’t long before he made her his main girl. Aaron knew that Toni would do just about anything for him, and he used that to his full advantage. It wasn’t until Toni became pregnant with their daughter Kiah, that he decided to get out of the game. From that point on, he was never the same. Working a 9-to-5 job didn’t fit him. He blamed Toni. Toni blamed Kiah. Every day they reminded Aaron of what he had given up.
After about ten minutes had passed, Toni began to show signs of life again. “Momma? Are you okay? I thought you were dead!” Kiah cried.
Toni struggled to get her balance as she made her way to the couch. She looked at Kiah and demanded, “Why the hell didn’t you call the police?”
Kiah was confused. “Momma, you told me never to call the police.”
“Use common sense girl. If you see your dad strangling the life out of me, then why wouldn’t you call the police? You want me to die, don’t you?” Toni asked.
Kiah couldn’t believe what her mother was saying. Toni often blamed her for things that went on in the house, but this time was different. She never thought her mother would ever accuse her of wanting her dead. Kiah loved her mother. She loved her father. She hated the fact that both of them often made her choose one over the other. Even with all the hate and anger that stirred inside of her, Kiah never once wished either of them dead.
“Why would you say something like that?” Kiah asked her mother.
Toni sat up on the couch, looked at Kiah, and then slapped her. “You were the biggest mistake of my life. We wouldn’t be in this situation if you were never born,” Toni said as she got up and walked to their tiny kitchen.
Toni looked around at the mess. “We used to live better than this when your dad was still in the game. Now, look at us. We barely living above minimum wage in this raggedy-ass apartment.” She bent over and started to pick up tiny pieces of glass that were broken during the fight.
“Go to your room!” she yelled at Kiah. “Just go to your damn room!”
Kiah, now in tears, ran into her room and cried into her pillow. After a few minutes, she lifted her mattress and pulled out her diary.
I hate my family. Why can’t I have a family like Ramiah? Her family seems so much better…at least better than mine. They have money and live in a nice house. My mother hates me. I know my dad loves me, but he just doesn’t know how to show it.
If I had one wish before I turn 15, it would be that I could be someone other than Kiah Brown.
I just want to feel loved. I want to belong. I want to be loved.
Good night, Dear Diary.
Kiah fell asleep only to get startled awake. It was her mother. “Kiah, get up! We are leaving. Get up and hurry up!”
Kiah thought she was dreaming, so she didn’t move right away. Toni dragged her out of the bed. “Get your butt up now! We have to go!”
Kiah hit the floor with a loud thump. “Stop making so much noise. You are going to wake your daddy up,” she whispered. Toni threw Kiah’s coat and a pair of tennis shoes at her. “Put these on. Hurry.”
Kiah grabbed her tennis shoes and slid her feet in them. She hated to walk on the back of her heels, but her mother gave her no time to make any adjustments. She threw on the clothes she wore to school that day, put her coat over her shoulders, and hurried behind her mother. “Where are we going, Momma?” Kiah asked.
Toni looked at her daughter and said, “Don’t worry about where we are going; you just follow.”
Kiah got quiet. She jumped into her mother’s charcoal Honda Civic, put on her seatbelt, and decided it would be in her best interest not to ask any more questions.
She held on tightly as her mother sped through red lights, rolled through stop signs, and cried more tears than she had ever seen or heard her cry before.
“Momma? Why are you crying like that?” Kiah asked.
Her mother ignored her. “Are you and daddy getting a divorce?” Kiah continued with her line of questioning.
Toni pulled over into the next gas station parking lot. She pulled up to the pump and shut the engine off.
“First all, I have no idea where we are going. I am crying because my life is
messed up,” Toni said with so much pain.
Kiah tried to grab her mother’s hand in an effort to comfort her. “Mommy. I love
you. I always have. I always will. I don’t ever want to see anything bad happen to you.”
“Do you love your daddy like you love me?” she grunted.
Kiah had a look of surprise on her face. She didn’t want to hurt her mother, but knew she needed to answer and without hesitation.
“I love you both. I don’t love the way Daddy hurts you. It scares me,” she replied.
Toni opened the car door, looked at Kiah, and said, “I tell you what little girl, if we do get a divorce, you better be ready to pick a side.” She slammed the door and walked into the convenience store. When she returned, Kiah could hear Toni telling Caroline, her sister, they were coming over for the night. Kiah also heard Aunt Caroline’s response.
“I don’t know why you trying to come over here. He is going to find you. He always does. When he does, you always go back. You need to go to one of those shelters. The ones that protect women who are victims of domestic violence,” Caroline advised.
“Look, I am coming over. Just answer the door when you hear me knock. Plus, you know you don’t want your niece living in no shelter,” Toni said sarcastically.
Caroline slammed down the phone.
Caroline heard the knock when they arrived at the door. She couldn’t help but hear the constant pounding on the black bars that protected the windows. Caroline’s neighborhood was considered a high crime area of Norfolk.
Caroline answered the door. She had her .38 Special in the pocket of her bathrobe and a silver bonnet on her head. Although Caroline was Toni’s sister, they didn’t have a close relationship. Caroline and Toni had the same mother, but different daddies. Toni never knew her father, but Caroline knew hers. He was a hardworking man who always tried his best to take good care of her. The child support checks were always on time. He made sure she had money for school-related events, kept her hair done, and never complained about anything she asked for, even if it was outside of his legal obligations. Chuck was an all around good man. Toni’s dad was the exact opposite. He was a dead beat in every sense of the word.
Toni pushed past Caroline. “I told you I was coming. Why do you have that gun? You ain’t going to use it,” Toni joked.
Caroline was sixteen months older than Toni, but Toni was the more aggressive of the two. Kiah continued to follow behind her mother like a lost duckling.
“I don’t know why you coming round here. It ain’t going to do nothing but bring unnecessary drama to my house. I have enough problems as it is now,” Caroline fussed.
“Come give me a hug.” Caroline redirected her attention to Kiah. “Oh my, what is going on with your hair?” She asked as she grabbed Kiah and gave Toni the side eye. “Your momma got you out in this weather with little to nothing on and looking like an orphan. She bout to be the….”
Caroline decided not to finish her statement. She walked into her even smaller kitchen. “Since I am up, y’all want me to fix something to eat? I have bologna and cheese. We can make some sandwiches.”
Toni and Kiah both declined.
Caroline stood six feet tall. She lifted weights and worked out at the Planet Fitness, and this made her somewhat intimidating. She was an average-looking woman, but her jet black, naturally curly hair and hazel eyes were some of her more attractive attributes. Caroline’s father was Puerto Rican, and she definitely took hair after him. She reached in the fridge and pulled out all the ingredients to fix the sandwiches.
“Kiah, I don’t care about your grown ass momma, but you are going to eat something. I know her trifling ass didn’t feed you.”
Kiah looked at her mother for approval. Toni shook her head. “Go ahead,” she approved.
After about an hour had passed, Toni’s phone finally stopped ringing. Aaron called Toni’s phone over fifty times since she’d been at Caroline’s house. He left messages, but Toni refused to listen to them.
“Bout time he stopped,” Caroline said with a sigh of relief. “Maybe he finally went to sleep and said forget about it. It is 2:00 a.m. in the morning.”
Caroline got some blankets and pillows and said, “You ladies can sleep here on the couch. It pulls out into a bed.”
“Thank you, Auntie,” Kiah said.
Toni looked at Kiah and said, “What you thanking her for? She should be letting
us sleep in her bed instead of sleeping on this little couch. It’s two of us and one of her. I ain’t thanking her.”
In spite of Toni’s complaining, she and Kiah made themselves as comfortable as possible.
It’s a day before my 15th birthday, and things have
gone from bad to worse. I wish I could just run away. My mom said I was going to school tomorrow, yet I am wearing the same clothes I had on yesterday. If you think my problems at home are bad, the ones I have to deal with at school are much greater. I already know Tawny Evans is going to have plenty to say. Not only do I hate her, but I often wish she would just up and disappear. I don’t think anyone will ever understand how hard it is to be taunted every single day you are at school. I can’t imagine that anyone else on the planet has a more miserable life.
Good night, Diary. I love you.
“Wake up and get ready for school!” Toni
This time I hopped up immediately. “Momma, I don’t have anything to wear. You didn’t give me time to pack anything,” I said while pulling on the shirt I wore the previous day. Kiah immediately regretted it. Slap. Straight to her face.
Toni had no emotional connection to Kiah. “Use your finger to brush your teeth.
Wash your hot spots and call it a day. You are going to school.”
I did as I was told and prepared for a day of living hell that would take place at school.
Kiah felt uneasy as she walked through the doors of the school. She begged her mother to let her stay at her Aunt Caroline’s house. Toni denied her request. Kiah knew the kids at her middle school were less than forgiving when it came to fashion and other things that would make a person a part of the in crowd.
“Hey Kiah,” Ramiah said. Ramiah and Kiah had been friends since elementary school.
Kiah hid in between her locker and continued to shuffle through her books. “Hey,” she said uncomfortably.
Ramiah opened the locker so she could see what Kiah was trying to hide. “Girl, what the hell is wrong with you?”
Kiah looked at her with tears swelling in her eyes and said, “My mom and dad got into it again. This time, she left for real.”
“Okay. Isn’t that what you wanted?” Ramiah questioned.
Kiah closed the locker and started to walk towards her first class. “No,” she snapped. “Nobody in their right minds would want their parents to not be together.”
They entered the classroom, and Kiah jumped in her seat before the bell could
ring. She knew that she had to sit down before Tawny and her crew got into the classroom. They were always late and would definitely have something to say about her repeat outfit. They noticed everything.
The bell sounded and just as expected, Tawny, Trece, and Matarrion walked in after the bell.
“You are late!” yelled Mrs. Moses as she gazed over the top rim of her glasses.
The crew went straight to their seats. Tawny’s assigned seat was directly behind Kiah’s. Matarrion was to the left, Ramiah to the right, and Trece sat in front of her.
As Mrs. Moses began to call the role, Kiah noticed how Matarrion kept looking over at her. He wrote something down on a piece of paper and passed it to Kiah.
“Give this to Tawny,” he demanded.
Kiah ignored him. “Give it to her,” he repeated as he threw the note on the desk.
Kiah didn’t want any issues, so she passed it back to Tawny. She heard the paper unfold and immediately afterwards, it was followed by a loud chuckle. The note then began to circulate the room. By the time it got back around to Ramiah, she tore it up. It was too late. The class was already in a loud uproar. Finally, someone said, “Kiah, didn’t you have that on yesterday?” The class burst out laughing.
“I knew I smelled something,” Tawny said. “You a stank ho.”
Mrs. Moses, who never seemed to hear anything, turned and said, “Who said that?”
The class got quiet. Mrs. Moses eyes locked with Kiah’s teary-eyed face. “Kiah, who was it?”
Kiah looked around at the crew. She knew that if she told, it would be the end of her.
Kiah looked over at her friend Ramiah. “I don’t know, ma’am.”
Mrs. Moses threatened the class with silent lunch, and the laughter stopped.
Tawny leaned over Kiah’s shoulder and said, “Good job, Dirty.”
The rest of the school day Kiah was called dirty, stank, stinking, and grimy. She wasn’t surprised. She was used to the taunting. She just held back the tears and continued with the rest of her school day. Ramiah was right by her side.
“Can my day get any worse?” Kiah asked Ramiah.
“Only if you died,” Ramiah laughed.
“So not funny,” Kiah snarled.
Just when Kiah thought her day couldn’t get any worse, it did. Kiah forgot that she had gym. This was the one class that she did not share with Ramiah. She was alone.
Kiah walked into the locker room and headed straight to the back where Mrs. Jackson, one of the female gym teachers was located in her office.
She stood in the doorway and waited for Mrs. Jackson to acknowledge her.
“Yes, dear?” Mrs. Jackson asked.
“May I please sit out today?” Kiah said as she stood there fidgeting.
Mrs. Jackson laughed. By this time, some other girls stood waiting by the
door. Tawny was included in the crowd.
“Why do you need to sit out,” Jackson chuckled. “Again?”
Tawny immediately pushed her way up to the front of the crowd and interjected, “Take it easy on stinky—I mean Kiah. Her mommy left her daddy today and she doesn’t have any clothes,” Tawny belted.
Although Kiah was embarrassed, she was more upset because Tawny just told the entire gym something that only one other person knew. She couldn’t believe that her best friend would betray her trust.
“Who told you that?” Kiah screamed. “Who told you that?”
Mrs. Jackson directed the other girls to exit the gym.
“Tawny, apologize to Kiah. That was very disrespectful. You don’t do that to people. Go to the main office. Right now! I will be there in a few minutes,” she scolded.
Without saying anything else to Kiah, Mrs. Jackson went into a cabinet and gave Kiah an extra gym uniform. “Go get dressed.”
Kiah had always been a petite young lady, but being underdeveloped was definitely a major issue for her. The boys often joked on her because she lacked breasts and her hips were almost non-existent. All of the other girls seemed to have breasts and hips for days. This always made her green with jealousy when she had to undress in front of them, so she grabbed the gym clothes and went to the back of the gym and changed in the stall.
For the rest of the day, Kiah tried her best to avoid Tawny and her crew. Ramiah was a different story. They shared the last class of the day together, math. Kiah got to class first. She made it a point not to meet Ramiah at their lockers. She was sure Ramiah would know something was wrong when she didn’t see her there.
Ramiah barely missed the tardy bell. She fell into the seat beside Kiah. “What happened to you? I waited for you as long as I could at the lockers. I didn’t know you were already in class. What’s up with that? Since when do we not meet at the lockers?” she asked.
Kiah looked at her and rolled her eyes. “I trusted you,” she whispered.
The look on Ramiah’s face was priceless. “What you talking about?” she asked with the dumb look on her face.
“You know you told Tawny about what happened with my mom and dad. She told the entire gym class. How could you do that?” Kiah said louder this time.
Mrs. N, as she liked to be called, turned away from the dry erase board and asked, “Who is doing all of that talking while I am trying to teach you how to solve multi-step equations?”
Kiah and Ramiah both shut up and continued to work their problems.
Ramiah looked over and whispered,” I was just trying to take up for you. I wanted to explain to them why you had the same clothes on. I am tired of you not standing up for yourself!”
Kiah rolled her eyes, “If I wanted them to know, then I would have told them.”
“Kiah, move your seat next to Mariah,” Mrs. N directed. “I will be calling your mother.”
Kiah yelled, “Call her! It ain’t going to matter!”
Kiah waited at the front of the school with the rest of the afterschool pick up students. She wasn’t sure what to expect. Her day had gone from bad to worse. She was kidnapped out of her bed by her mother and whisked off to one of her least favorite aunt’s house. The sleeping arrangements were awful. The roach infestation was so out of control that they even scurried around during the daylight. The mere thought of dealing with that another night made her nauseous.
After about forty minutes had passed, she saw a black Yukon truck that looked like the one her uncle drove into the parking lot. The truck stopped in front of her.
“Uncle James!” Kiah yelled as her uncle rolled down the window. “What are you doing here?” she questioned.
James was one of Kiah’s favorite uncles. He was like the black sheep of the family because he was gay. He got out of the truck and opened the door for his niece. “Hey baby. Get into the truck, and I will explain.”
James had a look of concern on his face. James was the oldest of all of her mother’s siblings. He was also the most stable. He owned a beauty shop in downtown Suffolk. He was considered the best in town. James lived in a luxury condo in one of downtown Suffolk’s newer developments.
“Where is my mom?” Kiah asked again.
James continued to drive without answering her question. Before Kiah could part her lips to ask again, he said, “Caroline sent me to get you because your mother is tied up.”
“Tied up doing what?” Kiah asked.
“Don’t get me to lying,” he responded. “It’s crazy how them chicks can call me when they need something, but let me need something, it’s a problem.”
“So where are you taking me then?” Kiah questioned as she noticed her uncle driving in the opposite direction of her house.
“Honeeey. I got clients waiting on me. I don’t even have the time to be taking you all the way back to Caroline’s house right now,” he explained.
They continued to drive down 58. Kiah just stared out the window. James noticed his niece’s distant look.
“What’s wrong chile?” he asked.
“Nothing.” Kiah avoided answering his question.
James continued to drive for another twenty minutes or so. Finally, they arrived at his shop. He turned to Kiah and said, “Look, you are my favorite niece. I know when something is wrong with you. You can talk to me. If you can’t talk to anyone else in the family, you know you can talk to me.”
Kiah looked at him with hesitation. “Even if I told you what was going on, you wouldn’t know how to help me.”
Uncle James sat up erect in the driver’s seat of the car. “Try me, sugah.”
“Well, I am being picked on at school. These girls keep calling me names. They are so bold that they talk about me right in my face!” Kiah cried out. She burst into tears. “I found out my best friend can’t be trusted. Life is messed up!”
Uncle James pulled into the parking lot of his shop but didn’t get out. He grabbed Kiah by the chin and said, “Baby. Life is never messed up. You control your own destiny. Do you think I would be where I am right now if I listened to all of the naysayers?”
Kiah shook her head and responded, “No, but you are a lot stronger than I am.”
James smacked his mouth. “Strong. That’s an understatement. Do you know how many times I considered committing suicide? I can’t count them on one hand. Kids picked on me because I was different. Boys called me faggot and punk. I was always getting beaten up.”
“I didn’t know that, Uncle James. I am so sorry to hear that,” Kiah said.
“Don’t be sorry. It only made me stronger,” James replied.
James got out of the car and opened the door for Kiah. “The first thing you need to learn is to value yourself. Do you see how I am opening the door for you? This is what you should expect from all men.”
Kiah and James walked into the salon. There were a few customers seated in the waiting area for James. “Hey James. I was about to leave,” a woman said.
“Chile. You a lie,” James laughed. “Go to the wash bowl so Jennifer can get you washed,” he instructed.
James grabbed Kiah by the hand and guided her to his chair. “Sit down. I am about to give you a much needed makeover. You are about to be fifteen. When you go back to school tomorrow, they are going to want to drink your bath water hunty.” James spun her around in the chair and began to work his magic.
“Look in the mirror. From this point on, I want you to always remember that you are a queen. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Don’t let anyone steal your joy. If they try, then you let them know that they didn’t give it to you, so they can’t take it away.”
Kiah looked in the mirror and couldn’t believe what she saw. The person in the mirror was new to her. It meant the world to her that her Uncle James, the black sheep of the family, showed her something that her own mother and father never did. In one brief session, he taught her to see the beauty inside of her.
After James finished with is last client, he had one more surprise for Kiah. He opened Kiah’s door and let her get in first. James went to the back of the car and popped the trunk. He grabbed a package and got in on the driver’s side of the car.
“I have one more thing for you. Happy birthday, Kiah,” James said as he handed her a Macy’s bag.
Kiah opened the bag and there was an outfit and a pair of shoes to match.
“Now, let’s see what they have to say,” he laughed.
“Thank you Uncle James. You are the best.”
Today, started off as the worst day of my life. I let Tawny, her crew, and Ramiah steal my joy today, but tomorrow is a new day. Thank you God for my Uncle James. You sent him to me today. He helped me to see me for who I am. He helped me to find the beauty inside. Tomorrow, I will no longer be the Kiah that people will make fun of. Tomorrow, I will show everyone who the real Kiah is. A brand new day. A brand new me.
I love you, Diary.
If you want to know more about Kiah’s story, watch out for the release of Barely 16. In Barely 16, Kiah prepares to celebrate another birthday, and she’s once again at the center of more chaos and confusion. She continues to long for the perfect family. She soon finds out that wants don’t often get needs met. In Barely 16, she longs for acceptance from her parents and peers. Will Kiah find what she’s looking for? Or, will she become another pawn in the game called life.
Author Nikki “Ni’Kay” Rountree, a Chesapeake, Virginia native, is the author of I Am She: Woman to Woman, Cash Rules Everything Around Me and The Cheater’s Wife series. She is a graduate of Norfolk State University and Old Dominion University. Nikki obtained her Doctorate of Education from Nova Southeastern University in Instructional Leadership. She is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated and The Order of the Eastern Star.
Author Ni’Kay has always enjoyed writing and hopes to continue to share her talents with the world. Aside from writing, she loves traveling, and spending time with her husband, Brian and three daughters: Briana, Kimari, and Laniya.
Ni’Kay’s Book Links:
My book purchase links: http://authornikay.weebly.com/buy-my-books.html
I Am She
Cash Rules Everything Around Me (2/14)
Barely 16 (follow up to Anthology-coming soon)
Ni’Kay’s Rountree Contact
Author Ni’Kay Website: http://authornikay.weebly.com
Kiah is a fifteen-year-old girl who is dealing with what seems like the pending divorce of her parents. Although her parents are in an abusive relationship, she doesn't want her family to be torn apart. All she wants is for her mother, who seems to blame her for all of their misfortune, and father to love her--to love each other. As she deals with the trials and tribulations of home, she is also confronted with being bullied at school and on social media. She takes much comfort in writing in her diary, who seems to be the only one willing to listen to her. Kiah is barely 16 and life is already throwing her curve balls. Will she get the loving home that she so longs for? Will she learn how to combat the ignorance that she is confronted with at school? Will her diary be her saving grace?