Forever Beautiful Excerpt

Men will not control me! 

Not Granddad. Not Daddy.   

Everett Mercer might be The King of Colemanville, but he ain’t the king of me. 

My referring to my father by a title others sometimes used occurred only when I was frustrated with him, which seemed to be increasing lately. His owning prime acreage and being the note holder on business loans for many in our community had earned him that moniker. But inwardly I knew he wasn’t a despot who paraded himself like a white god.  

Still, I was vexed, and determined to find a way out of this mess. But right then I was beyond exhausted and wanted nothing but to crawl into bed and sleep away the nightmare of my mother’s death. 

I stood intent on heading to my room after checking to make sure my brothers were still sleeping as peacefully as possible. 

“Flo.” 

My father’s voice stopped me midway.  

I turned to face him, finding the earlier heat caused by my announcement had fled his expression, leaving him draped in wisps of sadness. I felt myself soften. “Yes, sir?” 

He sank onto the plushness of Mama’s pale blue sofa, patting the cushion beside him. I wanted to decline but I was my daddy’s daughter and I needed the comfort of my sole surviving parent.  

He wrapped his arms about me as I sat beside him snuggling my head against his shoulder. No matter my experience—positive, negative—despite the oddity of my parents’ union, my father’s embrace was one of my favorite, most secure places. I needed that right then. 

“Your grandfather and I were hard on you earlier. And it likely seems unfair. But I vowed to Iva before you were born that you and your brothers would always be safe and provided for. I cannot have you going city to city, knocking on doors, in all manner of strange neighborhoods—” 

“Daddy, it’s not like that. We’ll visit Negro neighborhoods. Only! And it’s not just canvassing. It’s conventions, and conferences, and sharing at salons and churches. It’s a prime opportunity for me to see and experience the world God created.” 

“Daughter, that’s what I’m afraid of.” He shifted, removing my head from his shoulder so I could see his face. “You’re young. Lovely. And Colored. We both know the world out there isn’t Colemanville. There’re places you won’t be wanted or welcomed. What if you stumble into one?” 

I sighed knowing my father was right but thinking him overprotective as well.  

“There’re people who would hurt you for looking at them the wrong way, going in the wrong entrance, or drinking from the wrong water fountain. There’re men who think because you’re Colored they can…” 

He paused, swallowing hard, his jaw twitching angrily. He shook his head, stubbornly. 

“I can’t have you where I can’t protect you. We’ve lost your… mother… and that’s…” My father suddenly broke down sobbing as if his world had been viciously turned inside out. And it had been. 

I held his hand and joined his grief, unable to help him when I couldn’t help myself.  

Together, we wept. 

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