47.2 - Spring 2018

Page 158

The Christmases my dad had sent me gifts, he’d spelled my name wrong on the wrapping paper. All four of us kids had different daddies and different last names. Once I asked mom if she could change all of our last names to hers, so the message on the answering machine could say, “Spencer residence,” like how, on The Cosby Show, their message said “Cosby residence,” and she smacked me. My mother would have these years where she would just completely check out, and completely neglect us, and everything. There’d be so many roaches, they’d be wallpaper. Some crawled in my ears and were the causes of my girlhood migraines. Mice lived beneath the coils of our electric stove. They’d hang out on the stove until you came in the kitchen, and then run down into the oven. When mom got better and tended to the problem of roaches and mice, my classmates’ parents still wouldn’t let my girlfriends come to my house. Because I lived in Detroit. And because there were steel bars on the windows, fire hazards. When I was 16 my mother came to my school and beat my ass in front of my Physics class. I don’t remember what I’d done. I do remember glass beakers flying everywhere, horrified Ms. Mills. When I was 14, my mother pimped me out to a “family friend.” Everyone knew he was a pedophile, but she needed the money, and with the way the guys on our block were after me, she figured I was already having 150

PHOEBE


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