“I’m going out for a while, but I should be home before too late.” I kiss Onyx and Jet on their heads before leaving, ignoring their cries as I do. I drive to South Minneapolis where my sister lives and sit in the car after parking. I steel myself for the encounter, taking several smooth, slow breaths. I always have trouble interacting with normies, and my brother-in-law is definitely a normie. He does something in marketing, and he’ll drone on and on about it for hours if you let him. Coral is a pleasant woman who greatly resembles her mother, and she has the strong will as well. She has marched in Black Lives Matter protests for the past year and a half, much to her father’s dismay. She and her husband, Jamal Harrington, are prominent figures in the local chapter. Jamal is a teacher in an alternative high school, and despite being built like a linebacker, he never played sports as a kid. He’s a crack hand at chess, though. We’ve played it a few times, and he’s whupped my ass every time.
“I can do this.” I turn off the car, lock the door, and knock on the door to Jasmine’s house.
“Megan, come on in.” Jasmine grabs me in a hug, nearly taking my breath away.
“Auntie Meg! Come play.” Michelle and Ing-wen fly at me, nearly knocking me over in their enthusiasm to hug me. They’re wearing matching dresses, red for Michelle and orange for Ing-wen. They both have matching bows in their curls, and they look too cute for words.
“Hi, girls. How’re my babies doing?” I hug them with difficulty as they squirm in my embrace.
“Come play with us! We brought our Legos!” They pull at my hand, but Jasmine shoos them away.
“Girls, let her say hi to everyone else.” Jasmine leads me into the living room where her husband, Bob, is sitting on the recliner, and Coral and Jamal are on the couch. Bob’s black hair is slicked back, and he has a grimace on his face as Jamal and Coral chat with each other.
“Aunt Meg!” Coral springs up and hugs me. “It’s been too long!” She squeeze my hand. “I haven’t seen you in ages.”
“Coral. You’re looking great!” I look her up and down with a critical eye. She’s lost some weight while still retaining her voluptuous figure. Her curly hair is pinned up in a sloppy bun which suits her Madonna figure, and she’s wearing a brilliant red pantsuit which guarantees she’ll draw every eye in the room. “Your girls are lovely, too.” I look around for Smoochie, Jasmine’s calico cat, but she’s nowhere to be seen. She’s thirteen, has a touch of arthritis, and the only people she like are her immediate family, so I rarely see her.
“They are the best of me and Jamal, that’s for sure!” Coral leads me to the couch, and Jamal rises to greet me.
“Ms. Liang. It’s a pleasure to see you again.” Jamal extends his hand and engulfs mine in his.
“Megan. Please. It’s good to see you, too.” I eye Jamal covertly, not letting on how attractive I find him. He’s six-feet four inches of solid muscle, his dark brown skin looking deliciously edible. His dreads fall halfway down his back, and his tailored suit is just itching to be ripped off. “How’re you doing, Jamal?”
“Just fine, Megan.” Jamal says with an easy smile. “My kids this year are riled up about Phil Castilo’s shooting, so I’ve had my hands full with them.”
“That was such bull—crap,” I say, changing the word at the last moment. I’m keenly aware of my two grandnieces hanging on our every word, and I don’t want to be the one to corrupt them. Granted, they are playing with their ‘Legos’ (Duplos) on the floor and don’t appear to be paying attention, but I know better. The last time I saw them, I said something was shit, and the girls suddenly looked up from their plushies and said shit loudly and in unison.