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I'll be leaving to get my hair cut and colored for the big day tomorrow as soon as I finish typing in this entry. My day wasn't great or anything -- just okay. I'm glad we had a half day at school, because I still have a lot of stuff left to do before sophomore prom. I can't believe it! I'm going to my first prom!
My aunt designed my dress. Well, maybe she didn't exactly design it -- it's her version of a Valentino knockoff. Although I go to the prestigious Stony Hills Preparatory School in Pacific Palisades, we don't have benjamins like that. I attend the school on scholarship, and I'm perfectly okay with that. All I want is the end result -- a good education so that I can get into a good college.
Okay, I have to end for now. It's time for me to go to my sister's house. She's doing my hair for me as a gift. I'll upload a picture later.
I log off my online journal and shut down my computer while humming to Alicia Keys's new single.
"I'm on my way to Tameka's," I yell as I rush toward the living room, my footsteps thundering across the hardwood floor. My aunt's in the tiny laundry room near the back of the house but acknowledges she heard me by responding, "Okay..." Then she adds, "Rhyann, I have to take Phillip to track practice, so I won't be here when you get back."
I grab my hair magazines and zip out the front door.
My sister lives two blocks from our house. Just two blocks in the other direction is the Jungle, where gun deaths are nearly a daily event. My B.F.F.'s Mimi and Divine used to be afraid to come anywhere near here. I used to have to meet up with them at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, but now that Mimi is driving and has her own car, she doesn't mind coming to pick me up. I've told her which streets to take and stuff so that she's not caught in the middle of gang violence.
We don't even go to the grocery store that's right down the street. My aunt would rather go all the way across town. Bullets don't know any names, she says. A stray bullet killed my uncle when he was coming home from work. He made it to the house only to die in her arms. This happened a few months before my mom died.
"Tameka, girl...you gotta hook me up." I hurry through the front door of her apartment with my arms clutching the magazines that are my lifeline to a diva hairstyle. "Do me right because I gotta be fierce when I step up in the prom tomorrow night."
I make myself comfortable on the red leather sofa in my sister's living room, then lean forward to spread the magazines on her glass-op coffee table. Tameka's twenty-one years old and has had her own place for a year now. She keeps it nice and clean -- more than she ever did when we shared a room. She used to be such a slob.
"Come help me find the perfect hairstyle," I say to her. "My dress is strapless, and I'm wearing this really cute rhinestone necklace Auntie Mo bought to show off my neck."
Auntie Mo's real name is Selma Elizabeth Winfield. My brothers, Tameka, and I came to live with her five years ago after our mother died in a car accident. She is not just our aunt -- she has been a mom to us as well, so that's why we call her Auntie Mo.
"Tameka, I don't want to wear my hair pinned up like everybody else will be wearing theirs -- "
"Girl, you know I got you," she responds with a big grin on her apple-cheeked face.
She's wearing way too much blush, but I keep my mouth shut. Tameka's the sensitive type -- she takes offense at pretty much everything that doesn't line up with the way she thinks. Drama Queen should be her name.
"I learned how to do color last week at school, and Rhyann...girl, I'ma give you a fresh look. When I get through with you, everybody's gonna be like BAM! Who did your hair? When they ask you, tell them to come and see me at McCall's College of Cosmetology." She adds a little pitch. "I'll hook up all those little rich girls at your school. You know I wanna work in Hollywood, too...girl, I need to start networking."
I follow Tameka into a kitchen littered with hair products. Well, it used to be the kitchen. She can't be doing any cooking in here, because there's no room for the groceries. "If this is the salon, where do you keep your food?" I can't help asking.
I wouldn't be on my job as the younger sister if I didn't get on her nerves from time to time.
"It's in the pantry," Tameka answers. "I have all this stuff out here now because I have to do your hair, Rhyann."
I turn around slowly. "You're not planning on using all of this stuff in my hair, are you?"
She chuckles. "No, but I wanted to make sure I had everything I needed. I don't like having to run all over the house when I'm doing hair."
I relax. This is the first time my sister's cutting and coloring my hair. She's making decent grades in school, so she must be doing a good job. One thing for sure, Tameka has some skills when it comes to styling hair. She's sure had enough practice with her own head. Tameka is forever doing something to her hair. One day it's jet black, and then a few days later, she's got highlights. Right now her hair is a rich, glowing auburn. That's kind of the color I want but a few shades darker.
I remove my hat and put it on the table. "You should've heard all the girls at school bragging about how much their dresses cost. Humph! I don't need a thousand-dollar gown to be fierce. When I walk up in that prom, everybody's gonna turn around and say, Rhyann Hamilton has definitely arrived."
Tameka agrees. "Auntie Mo can just look at a picture of a gown and sew it."
"You should see my dress," I say. "It looks exactly like the one I showed her in that store window on Rodeo Drive."
"She was working on it when I went over there last week. I haven't seen the finished product, though."
I grab a hair magazine and settle into the chair near the stainless-steel sink, ready for Tameka to work her magic. "Beautify me, girl..."
Tameka laughs. "Sis, I'm 'bout to hook you up."
She colors my hair while I describe the fierce shoes Auntie Mo found at the Beverly Center. They match my dress perfectly. "Girl, I never thought I'd wear an orange dress, but this one is so pretty, and it looks good on me," I tell her as she gently massages my scalp. "It's not exactly orange -- more of a dark peachy-looking color. It's real cute."
"It sounds nice," Tameka states. "I know Auntie Mo worked it out for you. She made my prom dress -- wait, she actually made both of the gowns I wore to prom."
"I remember her sewing the black one you wore your senior year," I say. "It was pretty."
"You should come by here and let me see you after you get dressed," Tameka tells me. "I'd come down there, but I'm braiding my neighbor's hair tomorrow. You're going with Todd Connor's brother, right?"
"Yeah," I reply. "I asked Traven to be my date since I didn't ave any other real offers and he's real cute. You know I can't step up to the prom with just anybody."
"Sho' can't," Tameka mutters. "I had me a good-looking date when I went to my high school prom. You remember him. He was fine and all, but he turned out to be a real jerk. He got mad because I didn't want to go to a hotel with him afterward. I liked him, but I didn't like him that much -- I wasn't giving him nothing!"
Tameka places me under the dryer and sets the timer for fifteen minutes.
"How did the color come out?" I ask when she comes over to check my hair ten minutes later. There aren't any mirrors in the kitchen, and I can't locate the little one I saw earlier.
"I like it," Tameka responds. "But it's still wet. You won't be able to really tell anything until your hair dries." She leaves the room to make a phone call. Probably calling that no-good boyfriend of hers. I can't stand Roberto because I don't think he treats my sister right.
The timer goes off. I sit and wait for Tameka to return.
Five minutes pass and no Tameka.
I turn off the dryer because the hot air is stinging my neck and temples.
Tameka comes running out of her bedroom a good ten minutes later. "Girl, I'm so sorry. I was talking to Roberto and he was trying to start an argument. He must wanna hang with his boys tonight or something."
I'm not interested in her boyfriend drama, so I hand Tameka a picture and say, "This is the cut I want. This style will look good on me, don't you think?"
She nods. "Oooh, this is so cute, Rhyann. I'ma do it with a razor." Tameka rinses out the dye residue before shampooing me. Afterward she applies a creamy, moisturizing conditioner on the wet strands.
"I'ma leave this on for a couple of minutes. I need to go check on my laundry. Folks around here will steal your stuff if you're not careful. I'll be right back."
While she heads to the Laundromat, located in the next building, I read through the magazine on my lap. I'm so engrossed in my reading that I don't notice my sister's return until she's standing over me.
"I'ma rinse this out, then blow you out," Tameka announces.
I nod, hardly able to wait. I'm so excited about my first prom. It's been all that Mimi and I have been talking about. Divine went to her prom a couple of weeks ago and told us what a great time she had. She even sent us pictures of her and T. J., her date. Mimi and I miss her so much since she moved to Georgia. Her mom is the famous singer/actress Kara Matthews. Her dad, Jerome Hardison, is also a celebrity -- and not just for his acting. He's currently in prison for the accidental death of his mistress.
Talk about some serious drama.
I notice that Tameka isn't as talkative while cutting my hair, but I assume it's because she's focused on what she's doing.
Twenty minutes later, I turn around in my seat to face Tameka. The strange expression on her face prompts me to question, "How do I look?"
Without responding, Tameka passes me the hand mirror.
When I glimpse my reflection, I scream in horror.
"I don't know what h-happened," she blurts. ... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.