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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

{TEASER TUESDAY}: The Impossible by Joiya Morrison-Efemini

Teaser Tuesday is back!! I'll be sharing snippets from my own books--both published and works-in-progress, along with inviting other authors to stop by and share exclusive excerpts of their own books.

Today, I have the lovely Joiya Morrison-Efemini sharing an exclusive excerpt from her book, The Impossible!

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Sofie’s skin was the color of a French baguette, and also 
the color of her Ma’s homemade bread, which her Ma 
called loafs, and so they gave her the nickname

They spoke it at first as teasing siblings, and then 
progressively, as witches, conjuring curses so vile that
if Sofie closed her eyes, her skin would actually sizzle 
like arrows, alight, arched
rained down upon her.

She was the lightest one in a place and a time when the 
color of one’s skin sent a message…
As if there has ever been a time when it didn’t.

She was impossibly light.
Ma and Pa were as dark and dry
and fine as the cocoa powder her Ma used to bake 
that rare chocolate something.

They were both long of leg and finger and neck; 
they sat and stood erect, even under the incredible strain 
of farm and family, and default.

Sofie often said that she always knew she could never be 
like the rest of them – 
working fields, enveloped by the scorch of Georgia’s heat,
hands and feet 
and scarred.
Bodies rail thin, burnt, and weary from slaving 
without ceasing.

Yet, ending up in more debt each year, paying for 
scraps for a lifetime, and never owning anything but
your name. Even that stolen long ago and replaced.

She could see, even as the smallest child that her people 
worked the land the white folks owned, and the white 
folks took all the money, rationing it out to her kin in 
portions so small they were forced onto their knees, but 
just enough to make them stay there, begging for more.

She would never beg white folks for anything…
It’s a poor dog that don’t even have his own bone!

And because she believed it so exhaustively, she made 
her Ma believe it too, 
and her Pa had no opinion; he didn’t ever 
seem to have an opinion when it came to Sofie.
She never did work like them, thus, more curses conjured.

Even after she reached six - the age when all the other children 
were sent to the fields - she stayed in the house with her Ma.

She asked her Ma question after question,
And Ma, who had spent most of her life being talked at,
took a liking to being talked to.
Up to a point.
And a wooden spoon taught
Sofie when to shut up.

In a household where no one could read, 
Sofie trained herself by memorizing the Lord’s prayer.
And having the preacher show her where it was in the Bible exactly
she matched words on packaging around the house
to what people called the items inside them.

At ten she started doing the cooking alone
Instinct turned her Ma’s once bland meals, meant to 
sustain, into feasts that filled and made them all flourish, 
despite themselves. 

She cleaned, and their stubborn little house with more inhabitants than walls, 
which had never held tidy,
reluctantly obeyed her.

Items previously left askew idled in their places; the
once steady stream of tracked-in red clay and rusty mud;
Kitchen grime,
reversed in their tracks.

Her Ma, 
whose autobiography was thought complete, 
was relieved to live out the rest of her life in direct 
contrast to how she’d written it. 
Now she could be found out in her garden, 
or sitting on the old rocker Pa had made her, 
feet up on the battered trunk that doubled as a whiskey table, 
mending some item of clothing and 
yelling to Sofie every now and then to 
see to some chore that Sofie had already seen to 
two chores ago.

Her Ma loved all of her children in the way of all 
life-guarding mothers back then
raising cream and brown and black children.
She hurled harsh words and 
painful insults at them in continuous waves, 
intending to smooth them like ocean rocks, to buff them so slick 
that the hatred hailed down at them 
from the world they lived in
would slip right off and not impale them.

She needed to pressure wash any defiance off them;
any audacity that might push back against the unjust 
and get them maimed, or killed.

Occasionally, between the tides, a painful gentleness 
broke through unannounced and unwelcomed; 
she struggled against it, thinking that it would harm them.
She had no notion that it actually resuscitated them;
preserved them against those brutal, relentless waves.
Gave them hope.
A bright light of promise just beyond the dark.
Perhaps. Possibly. Just maybe.
Within reach?

Their Ma was hard and impartial enough that the 
siblings concentrated on blending into their duties.
They were always safe in the camouflage of hard work. 
Not one had the energy to maintain rivalry. 
Except against Sofie, who was drenched by a steady 
flow of envy from all of them. 
Sofie, thrown overboard,
yet maintained her buoyancy.

In an attempt to stitch the gash that separated her 
children, Sofie’s Ma often remarked to herself, but 
loud enough for all to hear, of Sofie’s virtues. 
Her siblings preferred to see her as…
(whispered) Illegitimate.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Does God put discouragers in our path to create discomfort? Can the disquiet of not belonging be of Him, to spur us into forging ahead to places unknown? Can He use the illiterate to build empires? Can He restore broken hearts and enable forgiveness for the most crushing of transgressions? What could happen if we believed God was in the midst of it all? Once upon a time, a simple girl and a simple boy fell in love. This was back in the time when marriage did not succumb to suffering or unkindness. It survived pride and envy. It was not expected to be perfect. It bore and believed and hoped and endured. The girl  opened herself up to the boy and he propelled into her love. And they bound to one another and multiplied. They fled from a world of hate and settled someplace safer. But evil found them. And they fell. They forget for just an instant, about love. They couldn’t feel it, so they thought it was dead. They mistakenly understood it to be buried under the hate they’d tried to escape. It was still there. Merely disguised in pain and fear. The girl and the boy limped through life, defenseless. But He whispered… This is their story…  


Joiya Morrison-Efemini is a Christian wife and mother of four fantastic kiddos. She is the author of two other publications, a lyrical collection of short stories entitled THE NOTES THEY PLAYED (2017), and a Young Adult novel entitled PETRIFIED FLOWERS (June, 2020). She lives in Marietta, Georgia.

Follow Joiya on her website, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads