Ruby

By Cynthia Bond; Published In 2014
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Literary Fiction
Ain’t nobody ever gone answer you cries. You can fill a well with tears, and all you gonna get is drowned. You sit there long enough and the crazy man find you. You weep too long, your heart ache so, the flesh slip off your bones and your soul got to find a new home. You wait on answers ’til the scaredy-cat curl up in your belly and use your liver for a pin cushion. And that’s just how you die. Ascared and waiting. And death find your ghost wailing for help. In this life, if someone promise you aid, they a lie. If someone offer they hand, check five time ten to see where they hide the bill. You ain’t nobody but alone. And God come to those with the fight to find It. Ain’t nothing easy. Not for the likes of you.

Ain’t nobody ever gone answer you cries. You can fill a well with tears, and all you gonna get is drowned. You sit there long enough and the crazy man find you. You weep too long, your heart ache so, the flesh slip off your bones and your soul got to find a new home. You wait on answers ’til the scaredy-cat curl up in your belly and use your liver for a pin cushion. And that’s just how you die.O

Ain't nobody ever gone answer your cries. You can fill a well with tears, and all you gonna get is drowned. You sit there long enough and the crazy man find you. You weep too long, your heart ache so, the flesh slip off you bones and your soul got to find a new home. You wait on answers 'til the scaredy-cat curl up in your belly and use your liver for a pin cushion. And that's just how you die. Ascared and waiting. And death find your ghost wailing for help. In the life, if someone promise you aid, they a lie. If someone offer they hand, check five time ten to see where they hide the bill. You ain't nobody but alone. And God come to those with the fight to find It. Ain't nothing easy. Not for the likes of you.

As Ephram waited for the pain, he saw Ruby as she used to be, the first time he'd seen her. The sweet little girl with long braids. The kind of pretty it hurt to look at, like candy on a sore tooth.

But the eyes of men were too strong, and the continued spitting and snickering of Gubber Samuels anchored him against the tug of mercy.

Don’t let him take a pickax to that treasure in your soul. Remember,

Don't let sorrow steal 'way truth.

Don't let sorrow steal 'way truth. Don't blaspheme who we is.

Ephram took her hand, “But I’ll tell you what. I’m most interested in the woman you have yet to be.”O

Ephram watched as Miss P went to give the girl a hug. Ruby bristled and inched back, shaming the older woman into converting her gesture into straightening Tabasco bottles on a nearby shelf.

Fucker-mother, bitches of sons.” Until the whole porch laughed. In the end after Ephram won, folks talked about how he walked from the porch in a kind of daze.

Girl, you a miracle of nature.

He wanted to tell her that he had seen a part of the night sky resting in her eyes and that he knew it because it lived in him as well. He wanted to tell her about the knot corded about his heart and how he needed her help to loose the binding.

Hope was a dangerous thing, something best squashed before it became contagious.

If you brave enough to live it, the least I can do is listen.

It was the wrong Liberty.

I was going to make Supra Rankin some of my fig preserves for her husband’s great-uncle’s funeral on Monday if you was going that way … Lord knows it’s a shame that family don’t believe in getting they people preserved right. And how they think the man will keep fresh while they waitin’ on them Mississippi Rankins to get here I don’t know.” “Shephard’s Mortuary lay folk out nice, Mama.” “Shamed Mother Mercy last year with them red lips and rubbed-on fair skin.” “Mama …” “Woman look like a peppermint stick, Lord know.

John Imig, Damon O’Neil and Jason Parker of Swork Coffee, for the life-sustaining elixir, and for allowing me to rest, type and weep for hours into months into years.

Lately, he’d felt like his bones were God’s kindling. That God must be awfully cold to set so many fires.

Maybe crazy was a cold you caught.

maybe devilment was catching. Maybe crazy was a cold you caught.

Remember, baby, don’t never let a man mine you for your riches. Don’t let him take a pickax to that treasure in your soul. Remember, they can’t get it until you give it to them. They might lie and try to trick you out of it, baby, and they’ll try. They might lay a hand on you, or worse, they might break your spirit, but the only way they can get it is to convince you it’s not yours to start with. To convince you there’s nothing there but a lump of coal.

Ruby knew then that a lie could only control a person if they believed it.

Ruby saw the walls of her own soul, saw things sparkling there she had never thought to look upon. Pictures of women, old, ancient with eyes like eagles, hands with love burning. She saw Maggie. There were sparkling lights lining the walls, gemstones gleaming.

She’d smelled like sweat, ammonia and Tootsie Pops.

She made it in that pocket of time before dawn, when the aging night gathered its dark skirts and paused in the stillness.

Those yellow eyes had seen the thing Ruby hid, even from herself. And when two people see a thing, for better or worse, it becomes real.

When she’d stepped from the red bus, the porch had crowded her with their eyes. Hair pressed and gleaming like polished black walnut. Lipstick red and thick, her cornflower blue sundress darted and stitched tight to her waist. Ephram had watched her light a cigarette and glare down at the crowd on the market porch in such a way that made folks feel embarrassed for breathing. Chauncy Rankin had said later, “Not only do her shit not stink, way she act, she ready to sell it by the ounce.

You know boy, I coulda been your daddy, but the fella in line behind me had correct change.

Your daddy and me named you Otha. It means 'wealth'. You were your daddy's treasure from the time you were born until he died. He used to say there were rubies buried deep inside of you. Remember, baby, don't never let a man mine you for your riches. Don't let him take a pickax to that treasure in your soul. Remember, they can't get it until you give it to them.