Sellout

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Book: Read Sellout for Free Online
Authors: Ebony Joy Wilkins
Tilly’s apartment. On our way, I bought a new cell phone case and a pair of house slippers from a street vendor, because I had forgotten to pack my own. Once we unloaded our bags in her apartment, we headed to the bodega on the corner to stock Tilly’s nearempty refrigerator. The store was right next to an adult video store and a small KFC.
    “Did you remember my list, Tash?” Tilly asked, pulling amini-sized shopping cart away from the others. “We don’t want to go at this all willy-nilly. We need a plan.”
    The store was four aisles wide. I was sure we could manage without it, but that was an unnecessary argument.
    “I’ve got the list,” I said, following behind her. Tilly is the kind of grandmother you prayed would not embarrass you in public. I had to watch her like she was the child. She was liable to say anything to anyone.
    Our cart was half full and the list almost complete when Tilly’s favorite song came on. Anthony Hamilton blared through the speakers and Tilly started having flashbacks of her nightclub days. She shook her oversized behind to the beat. I covered my laugh with my hand and looked around to make sure she wasn’t scaring away any of the customers. When she finally stopped dancing, she grabbed my arm and pulled me toward the back of the bodega.
    “Come on, Tash, I want you to meet my favorite meat guy,” Tilly said, loudly enough for the boy around my age behind the counter to hear. He winked in our direction when he saw her coming. All of a sudden, after seeing how cute he was, I couldn’t think straight. All noise around us faded—no more Anthony Hamilton, no more squeaky carts, and no more Tilly. I tucked my hair behind my ears and straightened my clothes.
    “Looking good, Ms. Tilly, what can I get for you today?”
    Tilly’s meat guy wore his black hair cropped closely to his head. He had beautiful large brown eyes and smooth skin. I thanked God for making such a gorgeous boy. The name tag on his apron said AMIR. He smiled widely at Tilly, like shewas his best customer. I wanted to be his best customer and I didn’t even know him.
    “Same as always, baby,” Tilly told him, “but add a couple more pieces of chicken breast for me. We’re celebrating tonight.”
    Amir went to work wrapping pieces of meat in white paper and placing the packages on his weighing scale. His muscles bulged under his white polo shirt.
    “What’s the celebration?” Amir asked me.
    I saw his mouth and watched his eyes. In fact, I’d caught his every move since we’d walked up to the counter. So I knew he wanted me to respond, but my mouth wouldn’t budge. Somehow, I’d lost my voice. My lips opened, but no sound came.
    “Tash, baby?” Tilly was trying to help me out, but I still couldn’t move. He was gorgeous.
    I backed up when Tilly nudged me, right into a display of canned beans. The whole display toppled like bowling pins. This might have been worse than causing a collision onstage at the dance center.
    “Girl, what has gotten into you?” Tilly asked, stooping to clean up my mess.
    “Uh…I’m…so…sorry,” I said, finally finding my voice.
    I looked back across the counter but Amir was gone. The meat lay neatly wrapped on the scale, but I definitely scared him off. He was probably ducking behind his counter laughing hysterically or gone to grab his camera phone to snap the new girl who spilled the beans.
    “Are you okay?” a deep voice asked. I felt strong arms move me out of the way of the teetering display. He wasn’t behind the counter laughing at all.
    “Um, yeah, I’m okay,” I said, wishing I could crawl inside one of the spilled cans.
    “Amir, this is my NaTasha,” Tilly said proudly, despite the mess I had just made in front of her friend. She winked at him. “She’s staying with me for a couple of weeks.”
    “Nice to meet you, NaTasha,” Amir said.
    “Thanks. I mean, you, too.”
    “Maybe I’ll see you around sometime?” he asked.
    Was he asking me out?

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