AT MY MAMA’S KNEE

My name is Eden.

My mama was a wild child living on the wrong side of the tracks in the middle of Nowhere, USA. Her parents were AWOL most of the time and didn’t give a rat’s ass about my mama. She grew up faster than any baby girl should have to and learned at an early age how to cast a glancing spell at the male population.

By the age of 15 she was pregnant with me. My mama messed around with so many men, she couldn’t even begin to guess who my father was. The promise of a million dollars or the threat of a gun to her head and mama still wouldn’t be able to name my daddy. The guys she hooked up with didn’t hang around for long and none of them was man enough to fess up anyway. Mama had sex, not relationships.

Mama’s only friend was Faye, another lost soul who lived the same impulsive lifestyle. By the time Faye was 16 she already had two babies so it was only natural that she be the one to help my mama when she went into labor. Nobody else gave a goddamn.

Faye lived in an abandoned motel which was home to a few hapless drifters. She did her best to keep the place as habitable as possible. Two dresser drawers with thin cushions served as beds for Faye’s babies. Faye was no whore and never took a dime from her gentlemen friends, only accepting candy, stockings or a small bottle of White Shoulders.

There wasn’t much Faye could do about her bed – a discarded Petri dish of a mattress. Whenever she could do laundry, she’d wash the one and only sheet she had. In-between washings she’d just flip the sheet over. That’s where my mama labored with me for two long days. Faye told mama to grab the sides of the mattress. “I won’t lie to you about the pain, hon” she warned. “Hang on, this is going to hurt. A lot.”

My mama screamed and cried and cursed; Faye never left her side. A couple of curious women from the next room would pop their heads in but it was just Faye and my mama on their own. Finally, when it was time, Faye gently drew me out and cleaned me up before giving me to my mama.

The cops knew about the motel but as long as there were no illegal activities, they turned a blind eye. They even arranged for the utilities to stay on – better than having people living in the streets just because they were down on their luck. Every week the local pastor and church youth group would drop off food, toiletries, diapers and detergent. Thankfully there were some people willing to lend a helping hand.

Everyone said I was the most beautiful child they’d ever seen. My face and green eyes were identical to my mama’s but her hair was straight and blonde, her skin like cream while my hair was a cloud of dusky curls, my skin the shade of warm butterscotch. My coloring divulged my father’s race, nothing more.

We stayed with Faye until we started cramping her style, then we moved into an adjacent room. The adjoining door made things convenient; mama and Faye took turns babysitting when the other had company. Mama used a drawer for my bed, just like Faye did.

When you live in an environment like mine, it’s hard not to be influenced. I saw and heard things no kid should and before I realized it, it became ingrained in my soul. By the time I was 13, lots of mama’s boyfriends were checking me out and I liked it.

One steamy summer day, mama was next door putting highlights in Faye’s hair. I was alone resting on the bed when Hal showed up. I liked him; he came by often to see mama. Hal asked me where mama was and I told him. He sat on the bed stroking my hair. I smiled and gave him that look mama always gave her men. Hal slid the straps of my sundress down my arms, revealing my breasts. He gently touched one, then the other. He tongued one, then the other and I got a warm feeling down low in my belly. I arched my back and moaned softly. Hal slipped off my panties and sat me on his lap; there was a momentary sharp pain. I learned what to do at my mama’s knee and it was good.

There was one man who’d come around the motel; he’d sit in his big fancy car looking out the window. He never left the car except the one day he saw me sitting outside on the stoop. He came over, gave me a peppermint candy and said I was the most gorgeous thing he’d ever seen. He asked what I was doing living in that dump. He said with his know-how and my looks I could make lots of money, live like a queen in a big fine house and never want for anything ever again.

This man wasn’t telling me anything new. I smiled just like I smiled at Hal. The man smiled back and lifted my chin. He studied my face intently and said I’d do very nicely. This pompous ass actually thought I needed his know-how; he was mistaken. I already knew how. All I wanted was a ticket out of here, to live my life doing what I was good at and to make lots of money. Let this fool think whatever he wanted to think; he would learn soon enough that I knew exactly what I was doing.

Two days later the man in the big fancy car came back. He opened the car door; I slowly walked over and slid in. Glancing up at my motel room window, I saw my mama staring down at us. When Hal sidled up behind her, she laughed gaily, turned her back and fell into his arms.

Mama had set the stage for me and now I was ready for the show to begin.

NAR © 2022

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