This Here House

by LaPorscha Rodgers

I'm gonna tell you a story. A story 'bout me and my kin, and our problem. See, my name is Betrice. Betrice Coleman. Me and my family: Mama, Daddy, and Sister Darlene, had a problem with the Golds. And the Golds have a problem with us...even though we died first. But the Golds thought too highly of themselves and claim this here home to be theirs. As soon as they realized they wasn't the only spirits here they almost died again. They was nasty to us. As soon as they noticed one of us, which was Daddy, they spittin' "nigger" at him.

Daddy said it was all right, though, 'cause the way they died. I saw it myself. Mr. Gold was nasty to the black folk who would pass these parts. He'd throw rocks and cuss at 'em, but one time he did it to the wrong one. An old man, didn't know his name, but he sure was brave. Mr. Gold had smacked the man's daughter across the face one afternoon. She was just gettin' her children off the lawn, but that was the problem. Mr. Gold didn't want no black folk on his lawn. His actions didn't sit right with the old man (I think the old man was crazy), 'cause one night he came with bricks and torches. He had his sons with him, and they burned the place down along with Mr. Gold, his wife, and his young daughter.

That was twenty years ago. We've been sharin' this burned down home for twenty years. Except now it's finally fixed up and a new family is suppose to be here soon. The problem is, none of us want to leave. Us Colemans want to stay because our family lived in this house for generations. Our family was slaves here; they were servants here. Our family inherited this home through sweat, blood, and tears. The Golds just didn't want no "nigger stuck to this good here house."

There was one thing us and the Golds shared: we weren't leavin'. No matter who the newcomers were, we were stayin'. Mr Gold vowed to scare off any black folk who might move in. He doubted it though sayin' "ain't no nigger affordin' this here home." That caused Daddy and Mama to vow to scare off any white folk. Daddy really hate white folks. I understand his reasons; mainly 'cause we died at their hands. Most of us, anyway. Sister Darlene died of illness. I think it's 'cause we were all gone, but Daddy, Mama, and I were hung —years before the Golds came. It all happened 'cause Daddy crossed a white policeman. The man was gettin' on me and Mama for bein' somewhere we wasn't allowed to be. He started yellin' and shovin'. Once Daddy saw, he blew up.

It was April when the new family arrived —two parents and a baby. Once Daddy saw them, he changed. He no longer wanted to drive them out. "Maybe things is different," he said. But seein' the new family enraged the Golds, especially Mr. Gold. Never in his day —any of ours really —had we seen a black with a white. Mr. Gold wouldn't have it. Now we had a new problem. We had to protect that family from those crazy white ghosts. And we did. We awakened the spirits of our ancestors and drove the Golds to hell. We protected the new family from the Golds, but couldn't protect them from the res' of the world. Their child was killed by a rock. The husband was beaten, and the wife went away.

The house is empty again. There are no new spirits; me and my family are the only bein's left. The husband, Earl, he didn't stay. I guess he had no reason to. He wasn't a stubborn white man, and he had no bloodlines attached to this house. The house, for him, was jus' a reminder of what could have been. But for me it became more than an inheritance, more than a home. It's what I thought could never be.

This Here House by LaPorscha Rodgers

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