Many days we passed Miss Daisy’s house and yelled hi. She would usually call us up on her front porch to visit. She would be sitting in her rocking chair fanning flies from her face and intermittently wiping sweat from her wrinkleless brown skin with one of the lace handkerchiefs she always tucked in the belt of her dresses.
When we sat on the porch, she always told us stories from her past, but today, the elderly lady asked us in for tea.
“Y’all children come on in and have some of this pound cake I made,” she said. She lived with her sister Bess; both were single with no known children and in their nineties.
I was the oldest, so it was up to me to decide. Since I was fascinated with the regal outside of the place, I quickly said okay to get a glimpse of the inside. “Okay Miss Daisy,” I said. And besides, it was the heat of the day and shelter would be nice before resuming our trip home.
Miss Daisy loved to talk. She had a million stories it seemed from older days that still manifested pain today for any Negro person. You could see the pain and fear in her eyes as she recounted tales from the past. She always said it was necessary for us to know, as this would be our life’s war. It would never end. It would always be, in some form.
“Y’all have a seat around the dining room table. I’ll cut you a piece of cake. Want some iced tea with it?”
We all nodded in agreement. The little ones followed her in the kitchen anyway.
The inside of the house was as regal as the outside, but it was very dim. All the shades were drawn. But, from what I could see the house was lavish; furniture like I had never seen in any Negro person’s home before. The table was already set. I noticed a curio with horse figurines of all sizes and materials; some delicate and glass, some handmade and wood, but nevertheless, horses.
But I looked down at the place setting after I inspected the room. There were spider’s webs in the glasses and an inch thick dust on the plates. Now, Miss Daisy told tales to make your hair straight and we all were appalled but loved to listen. I didn’t want to mess up that connection.
Miss Daisy lived in one of the most elegant and elaborate houses on the block. And even though it was the “cullurd” side of town, high-ranking officials wanted to take it away. The poor whites wanted to burn it down. But Miss Daisy had protection. In her younger years she had nursed, raised and loved the most influential and wealthiest man in town as if he were her own, and he reciprocated. This was her assurance, and she reminded us of it every time she told a story.
“Miss Daisy, I forgot. Momma told us to come straight home. Can we take our cake with us?”
“Yes, yes. I don’t want your momma mad at me, but y’all children come back when you have time. I got plenty more stories to tell and this old lady can’t hold on much longer. Ain’t got no great-grands to pass it on to, so I tell y’all neighborhood children. So you can be educated and know and watch out for yourselves. You know what happened to my little friend Minnie; they runned her out of town for asking two little white children to show respect to an old black woman. Y’all be careful swimmin, there’s sharks in the water.”
This last phrase would be the guiding force of my life. Miss Daisy repeated it enough as if we were going swimming in an ocean. But, I knew what she meant…
The remainder of “tea at miss daisy’s” is featured in our current issue, including short stories by 13 Black female writers. Contributors include: Christian Loriel, Desiree Evans, Avi-Yona Israel, Wandeka Gayle, L.M. Bennett, DiAnne Malone, Muli Amaye, Tatiana Taylor, Kourtnie Rodney, Jacquese Armstrong, Candice Lola, Preslaysa Williams, and Ilisha Nicole. Buy it today!