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FOUR LADIES ONLY
New Indie Novel
Sheridan Hawkins is a chain-smoking, former high school prom queen, trying to survive a marriage fraught with financial and emotional difficulties. Faye “Dimples” Davis is the first lady of a megachurch who desperately wants to have a baby. Victoria Williams is an elementary school teacher fighting for the love of her estranged husband and children. Danielle Wiley is a powerhouse attorney grappling with her sexual identity. These are the heroines of “Four Ladies Only.”
Their friendship began two decades ago in middle school and continued through high school. However, in their senior year, a horrific event took place that destroyed their relationship and belief and trust in one another. Twenty years later, the death of their mutual friend, Sabrina Brown, motivates them to try to reconcile. However, in the process, they are forced to tackle the secrets, lies, deceit, and hypocrisy that underpin each of their lives. But they soon come to realize that their biggest hurdle will be facing and reliving the one night that led to twenty years of separation.
I hate this part. Let me get the hell out of here. Why in the crap did I come to the cemetery anyway? The service was bad enough with all the sobbing, screaming, and people falling out. I’m just a freakin’ glutton for punishment and I have a black eye to prove it. I shove the sunglasses I bought at the carwash up the bridge of my nose, while Sabrina’s casket is being lowered into the ground. I stand on my long shaky legs, smooth my wrinkled black dress I got from the Swap Meet yesterday, and pray I don’t run into “The Others.” That’s what I call them now—Faye, Victoria, and Danielle. They’re “The Others.” Hell, it’s been twenty years. I probably wouldn’t even recognize them. And I’m damn sure they ain’t gonna recognize me. Truth be told, there are times when I look in the mirror and I scare myself. Time is a mother!
Startled, I turn at the sound of the whiny-sounding voice and give the dimpled-faced woman the once over, wondering how she got the drop on me. The burial ceremony ended thirty minutes ago and the people with good sense have already paid their respects to Sabrina’s family and are headed to the parking lot.
“I think you dropped your cigarettes,” she says, reaching for my Menthol Kools splayed out across a patch of grass. She scoops the two loose ones up and grabs the pack. She thrusts the tobacco my way, while staring at me with bloodshot eyes and smeared makeup. I take my smokes and give her a slight nod. She gives me a faint smile while she rifles through her small black clutch. She pulls out a crumpled handkerchief, covered in dried mascara, and dabs at her face. Must be one of Sabrina’s relatives. She looks like she took it hard. I cried too—inside.
“Thanks,” I say. I pause when my eyes lock on the ring on her finger. I notice 93 and Bradshaw. “Did you go to Bradshaw?” I ask.
She stops wiping her tears, squints and says, “Yeah, I did. I graduated in 93.”
“I did, too,” I say, stuffing my Kools into my purse. “How do you know Sabri—”
“Sheridan!” she screams, cutting me off. “Sheridan Hawkins? Lord, have mercy. Good, Lord Almighty. Is that you?”
I stand there dumbfounded, wondering how I didn’t recognize Faye “Dimples” Johnson. She was known for her big dimples and whiney voice. I’m even more mystified that she’s being so cordial, acting like we’re Bffs, acting like all the ratchet stuff that went down back in the day never happened. “Yeah, it’s me.”
“Sheridan, I’m Faye…Dimples…remember, the preacher’s kid?”
“I know it’s you…I mean I didn’t at first, but how could I have not known. You still have that whin…voice of yours and those pretty dimples. You haven’t aged at all!”
“Well, you know what they say, black don’t crack.”
Bitch please. She just had to go there. “And white ain’t tight?”
“Sheridan, you look good for a—”
“Almost middle-aged white woman?” I ask, snatching off my shades.
“Lordy no…you look good period. Look at your pretty blue eyes. And you still have all that pretty long blonde hair. You know you were the prettiest girl in high school. Every guy and male teacher wanted a piece of Miss Sheridan. It’s no wonder Gary… ”
We share knowing looks and tension-filled silence sucks up all the oxygen. I clear my dry throat and we both look at the cemetery workers repositioning the large wreath stand near Sabrina’s burial ground.
“Are you going to the repast?” she asks, interrupting the quiet.
“I hadn’t planned to,” I say, now desperate for a cigarette. “What about you?”
“Of course. You know my husband did the eulogy and New Hope is our church,” she says with a look of pride.
“No, I didn’t know that. I didn’t know you were married.”
“Yeah, I am,” she says, glancing at the class ring on her wedding ring finger. I just wore this today in honor of Sabrina. I can’t believe she’s gone. My, Lord, she was such a beautiful person inside and out.”
“I can’t believe it either. I guess I will be going to the repast.”
“Oh…okay, I’ll see you over there. I can’t—” The sound of a horn brings our conversation to a halt. Faye wipes the sweat from her arched brow and swivels her long neck toward the parking lot. “That’s my husband Mark. I better go. I can’t wait to catch-up. It’s been a long time. By the way, do you still paint?”
“Rarely,” I say. “Do you still make those dolls?” I ask.
She nods, the horn sounds again, and she takes off, looking over her shoulder one last time. I watch her sway her narrow hips in her long black dress while she picks up speed. Her shoulder-length weave moves like it’s really her hair. I wonder where the other two are. I wonder if they were here and I just didn’t recognize or see them. Not everybody came to the cemetery. Maybe they were no-shows. They were probably at the church and I just missed them. Now I wish I would have let Sabrina give me the 411 on the others. She tried, but I wasn’t hearing it. I didn’t wanna know nothin’ ‘bout Faye, Victoria, or Danielle. They were non-mother…let me chill.