Free Sugar by Bernice McFadden

Book: Sugar by Bernice McFadden Read Free Book Online
Authors: Bernice McFadden
and she coughed.
    “I—I called out, but no one answered. I just wanted to try again . . . bring another pie for you since—”
    Her speech was cut short. The pie was airborne and spinning above her head. Sugar’s rage had overwhelmed her and triggered her hand to slap at the pie. When it landed, it landed on Pearl’s head. Sweet potato and crust slid down the sides of her face and onto her dress, made a home in her hair and clung to her lashes.
    Pearl didn’t move, not even to wipe at the pie in order to remove it from her head and face. She just stared at Sugar. Sugar was stunned, stunned at her quick act of anger, and her face showed her surprise and growing regret.
    “Sorry” tickled at her tongue but Sugar would not release it, so it moved into her eyes where Pearl interpreted it.
    She laughed at the pie on her head and her stupidity. It was a full-bodied laugh, not at all as rich as a good bottle of wine, but it was a laugh nevertheless, and she had laughed so little in past years. Sugar laughed too, unsure at first and then more securely.
    More than ten minutes passed before they got themselves under control. Sides aching and faces wet with tears, they knelt together to pick from the floor what had missed or left Pearl’s head.
    “Well, Miss Pearl, seems as if I’m never gonna actually get to taste your sweet potato pie,” Sugar said as she scooped pie from the top of Pearl’s head.
    “Sweet potato pie your favorite?” Pearl asked.
    “All-time,” Sugar said.
    “We’ll make the next one together then,” Pearl said, cementing her place in Sugar’s life, using words she had used with Jude years before.
    “I ain’t much of a cook, no less a baker,” Sugar responded.
    “Don’t matter, life’s ’bout learning new things anyway,” Pearl said.

Chapter Seven

    I DON’T need you!”
    Sugar woke up and the words were spilling from her mouth. Loud and obnoxious. She believed she must have been screaming because the words still bounced off the walls of her bedroom.
    They were bitter words, sour in her mouth where once upon a time they’d been familiar, tasteless things that were just a part of life.
    I don’t need you!
    The words stayed with her, echoing in her mind. She closed her eyes and squeezed them shut, placing her hands over her ears to block the words out completely. That didn’t help at all. They weren’t outside of her, sitting in the chair across the room or even standing over her trying to poke her awake. They were inside her head, living in her soul, and now she was holding them in, trapping them there for good by holding her hands over her ears.
    What had it been? A dream maybe, certainly not a memory of something that had actually happened. She’d never had to use those words in her real life. She never had to make a statement to anyone with regard to what she needed and didn’t. No, she had been self-sufficient for most of her life—not counting time spent with the Laceys and Mary.
    There had been no love to scrape away at her, leaving only crumbled bits of flesh where there once was a whole person—she didn’t have to pretend that she didn’t need him when she knew she did. No, that was someone else’s life.
    Mother, maybe? No, she had never had one to rebel against.
    Hmmm, strange.
    Perhaps it was Pearl. She was quickly becoming a part of Sugar’s life. It had started slow. The baking of the pie was the maiden voyage to their friendship, and then other things. Tending the garden that they both thought was dead. Turned out that it was just dormant. “What it needed was a little love and attention,” Pearl said when the first pink blossom flowered. Sugar wasn’t sure if she was speaking about the garden or something else. She wasn’t good at reading people without having looked into their eyes. Pearl never held hers still enough to allow that. They were always shifting here and there. Darting around like a fly, resting only for short periods, and then on the move

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