The judge gave me a stay of execution to make living arrangements for my nine-month-old daughter, Porshai. Then I had to report back to the courthouse to be transported to the Suffolk County House of Corrections.
Before I left the courthouse I used a pay phone to call a Latina friend. "Gina, can you call Danny’s grandmother on the three-way for me?" I needed her to translate for me because Danny’s grandmother only spoke Spanish.
"Tell her I need a place to hide from the police. Ask her if I can stay with her."
"Hold on," Gina said.
Danny’s grandmother answered, "Hola." We did the three-way talk. She agreed to help me. I don’t think she fully understood what I was asking. "Thank you," I said. My plan was to go to my mother’s house, bundle our clothes in a backpack, get my daughter, and run away to South Boston.
But then I bumped into Charles.
"Where you going," he asked.
"Home," I said.
"Can we chill?"
I desperately needed to get away from what was happening. I was hurting like my heart was punctured.
Charles came home with me.
We smoked weed while we listened to underground Hip Hop music. I was adrift. I sat on a milk crate, drawn in to the music. He stood in front of me, inviting me without a verbal welcome. I wanted it badly but my mother, little sisters, and daughter were in the other room.
Instead we walked to the beach. He talked. I watched the water’s waves wallop into each other. I wished I was someone someplace else. We smoked more weed. I wanted to stay as high as possible.
On the way back, as we walked up the hallway stairs he stopped and asked if we were going to have sex. I was high; my body was heightened and ready. But I couldn’t. Regardless of how reckless I lived my life, I refused to allow my daughter to see me with a man that wasn’t her father. "No," I said. He left.
Porshai was asleep in my mother’s room. I carried her into our bedroom and laid her across my bed. I watched her sleep. I kissed her cheeks and brushed her hair back with my hand. My high was used up. Sense smacked me in the face. I wept. I prayed, asking God to prolong the night, "Extend the twenty-four hours I have into forty-eight or seventy-two."
The next morning I woke, took a shower, getting ready to go to the courthouse. My mother was watching Porshai. I closed the door on my room. I lit the blunt. I inhaled slowly. I wanted to get as high as possible. Then it was time to go.
I went into my mother’s room. My mother, sisters, and Porshai were all sitting on the bed. I looked at Porshai. I couldn’t bring myself to hug her the way I wanted to because I really didn’t know how to say I love you and I am sorry that I have to leave you. Please forgive me, I thought, and if we can get through this I promise that it will never happen again.
I said "bye," turned around, and walked out the door. Toby drove me to the court house.