CHAPTER TWELVE

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I was no longer a child, so even with the nerves running through my body I hit the door before pressing the doorbell. I wished I had dropped my bookbag off but remembered that Joelle had told me to keep some protection inside and knew that it was a good thing I brought it. I was wearing a simple gray sweater and jeans. They wouldn't like that I came to dinner so casually.

"Cyprus, my love come in," my grandmother said when she opened the door. She wore flowing silk shirt and pants that were all white and stood at the same height as me. Her hair had grown past her shoulders freshly dyed a coppery brown. Her skin was tanned as if she had just come from the beach. I could only see hints of her age; she was a regular plastic surgery customer.

She hailed from a small village in Brazil. She did her best to snuff the past out. She rarely spoke in Portuguese, though it slipped through sometimes. I had never heard her tell stories from her childhood. I only knew that she was poor and came to America after her first husband brought her here.

She brought be into a hug and I gave her a pat on the back like I would do in church. She was acting fake, and I had an idea why. We were never close. I learned Portuguese to impress her once, and she smacked me across the face. Even before I came out, she was never warm towards me.

"Hello." I kept an even tone that conveyed my disinterest in whatever she had planned.

"Come in, you're a little early but I'm glad that you made it," she said with a weird posh accent. I walked behind her as she led me around the house. It did not change too much. The decor remained contemporary. I remembered spinning around when I was a and watching as the neutral-colored furniture blurred together as I moved.

As we walked past a wall filled with pictures, I noticed that mine on the wall. Not long after I came out, they removed anything that showcased me near. They hung crookedly, so I assumed that they had just gone up. The frames were even different shades of brown. They definitely wanted something.

We made our way into the dining room where she sat me down telling me to sit in my old chair before she left me alone. The mahogany table was my paternal grandmother's most prized possession. It had been sanded and stained so none of the marks that came from plates scraping the surface. The chairs had a new gray upholstery, and the fireplace had new dark marble. That complemented the brown wood flooring. The place where a family would normally congregate felt soulless. The gray walls did not help the room feel less cold either. Even with light streaming in from the open window, the room that had once been a comfortable place to eat was nothing but a memory.

I pulled out my phone after placing my bag on the ground and texted my friends telling them that everything was okay since they texted me asking if there was an issue. Zion had not answered a text I sent him so I closed my phone. I was glad that he wanted to come and see me, but now wished it was not on a whim. If I had known that, I would be in a lion's den, I would have told him to come at another date. Especially since it was such an important moment in our budding relationship.

"Hey baby." A familiar voice rang from the entrance into the dining room at my left. It was soft and sweet enough to draw me from the anxiety that was mounting inside.My mother walked in and came over to me. We looked like twins except her nose was wider, here eyes were lighter, and lips a tad thinner. Her skin looked tan like my grandmothers, maintaining a roasted peanut color that complemented her deep brown hair. She wore a form fitting white dress that reached her knees.

When she got close to me she leaned down to kiss me on my cheek but I pulled away making it so she was kissing the air. She looked over at me with her eyes low and glossy. I wanted to feel bad but the patience to play whatever game my father had orchestrated had run thin. She stepped back and said nothing as I returned my attention on my phone. There were no messages to reply to, so I placed my phone in my pocket and watched my mother take her seat.

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