Let me tell you ‘bout a hoe.

We was friends since kindergarten. Y’all know the situation when you the only two black kids and there’s hella white kids, so you link up. If she hadn’t got held back a grade, I woulda been the only black kid in that class. I didn’t look up to her, but I appreciated something in her. Lavisha came bounding in on that first day, loud as hell, stomping on all the white kids’ pride and shit. I liked it, and she liked me. But that was back then.

In eighth grade we were pretty close. I guess I’ll admit, we were best friends. She came to me in the middle of October and told me she got a boyfriend.

“He a ninth grader,” Lavisha said, lips smacking on a piece of gum. I hated the way she chewed, that shit was obnoxious.

“What’s his name?” I asked her.

We was at our lockers. I had to trade some weed to get a kid to switch lockers with me so I could have my locker next to Lavisha’s. She told me I shoulda just beat the kid up until he gave it over, that I shouldn’t be givin’ him nothin’ special and shit. But I didn’t want to fight and I was the one makin’ him move out of the way. It was cool though because Lavisha split the cost of a gram with me. Like I said, we was close like that back then.

“Cletus,” she told me. “Cletus Banks. You heard of him?” She leaned against her locker, breathing bubblemint air at me.

“No, I don’t talk to anyone in high school.”

“You should. They grown ass men over there. Cletus ain’t give me shit like the bitches here.”

“I already got a boyfriend. I ain’t tryin’ to talk to nobody else,” I told her.

“You right, you right.”

By November, Cletus and Lavisha were fucking. I didn’t judge them. Me and Tyrell were fucking too. It gave Lavisha and I a shit load of stuff to talk about.

“We should go ice skating,” Lavisha told me one night. We was doing homework at her house. She was on the couch and I was sitting on the carpet in her TV room.

“Really?” I asked. I didn’t look up from my notes right then because I had a thought going on about how Stalin was similar to Ivan the Terrible. That shit wasn’t in the textbook and Ms. Wilmington told us that history was all about connecting the dots on our own.

“What I mean is, you and me should go to Friday Night Skate at the Frosty Hawk this week.”

I dotted the end of my sentence and looked up at her. Lavisha was lookin’ right at me, twistin’ the end of her weave around her middle finger.

“Girl, don’t do that.”

“Doesn’t matter if it falls out. I have an appointment for a new one on Thursday.”

She stopped twistin’ it.

“How you gonna get your hair done for Friday and leave me lookin’ like shit?” Lavisha tried pullin’ shit like this all the fucking time. It’s one of the things that made her a bitch.

“Calm the fuck down,” she told me, laughing. “You ain’t gonna look like shit. Your hair is always poppin’ ‘cause you take care of it. I don’t. That’s why I gotta go to the hairdresser.”

“Whatever.” I was annoyed with her, so I turned back to my homework.

“Sabrina, how you not gonna answer my question?”

“What?” I asked. I genuinely forgot.

“Friday Night Skate this Friday?”

“Who else is going?”

“It’s just us.” She said that with a smile. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but she started smiling like that – with her mouth and with her eyes – more after our conversation.

“Just us?” I raised my eyebrows. Since Lavisha and Cletus linked up there hadn’t been no “just us.” Half the time I was lucky if I thought to bring Tyrell along for shit so that I wouldn’t end up being a third wheel.

“Yeah, just us. I promise. You and me gon’ have a girl’s night-”

“A girls’ night where we fall on our asses a shit ton!” We laughed at this and I agreed to go.

I don’t know why I believed her lyin’ ass. My mom dropped me off at the Frosty Hawk and I went inside to find Lavisha talkin’ to two guys. When I got closer I realised they were high school boys. Lowkey cute too. Lavisha saw me before I could text Tyrell that she was trying to pull some shit.

“Sabrina!” she shouted to me even though I was only a few steps away by that point.

“Hey,” I said, a little shy. I mean, these boys were so fucking cute and here I was, standing next to Lavisha with her makeup going and hair just did. I was dressed in yoga pants and a sweatshirt, you know, girls’ night shit.

“This is my best friend, Sabrina,” Lavisha introduced me. Then she turned to me and said, “This is Maurice and Will.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said.

“Nice to meet you,” Maurice said. We maintained eye contact a little too long. It made me feel weird, like this was all happening on purpose.

Lavisha probably saw gears turnin’ in my head because she pulled me aside right then.

“You said-”

“Will is Cletus’ cousin and that’s his friend, Maurice,” she told me, whispering.

“Okay?” Like, why the fuck would I care?

“Girl,” Lavisha said. She rolled her eyes at me, the fucking bitch.


“Bitch, we on a double date.” She said it like it was obvious. Like I didn’t come in here thinkin’ we was havin’ a girl’s night.

“Really?” I asked her, “Because that ain’t your boyfriend and that ain’t my boyfriend.”

“Yeah, that’s Cletus’ cousin who is way better at fucking-”

“You fuckin’ this nigga?” I gasped. Lavisha started laughing.

I glanced over. Will and Maurice were talkin’. They didn’t seem bothered by us taking our time. When he wasn’t looking I paid close attention to Will. I saw how he and Cletus were related; same eyes, same nose, relatively same build, only Will is more muscular. More attractive…

“Lavisha, what kinda shit are you tryin’ to get me into?”

“I’m trying to get you some high school dick!” Again, she said it like it was fucking obvious.

“Shhhh!” I hissed. I noticed then that my breath was fogging up in front of me. The Frosty Hawk was fucking cold.

“You ain’t gotta do nothin’ you don’t want to. Maurice is like… like a option.”

I looked at Maurice. He was a ninth grader. He had calm tea-brown eyes, and his hair was pulled back in neat braids. His nose was like a button and his lips looked soft… like, tantalizingly soft. He was tight too; his shirt clung to him, and I could see the shape of his biceps and his abs.

“What about Tyrell?” It came out so much weaker than it sounded in my head. Maybe by then I’d given up… given in.

“Tyrell ain’t here, how he gonna find out?”

I didn’t know Lavisha was such a snake. I guess this registered on my face ‘cause she leaned in and got real serious. She basically growled at me, “And Cletus ain’t gotta know either. You feel me?”

I got the message. I swore not to say shit about it. And to this fucking day, I never said shit about it.

That night at the Frosty Hawk was good. I’ll admit that. I liked Maurice. He talked about his classes and college and shit. Tyrell didn’t care so much about his grades as he did chasing ass. Nah, it wasn’t like that with Maurice. He didn’t mention no other bitches when we was together. Didn’t even look at another girl at the Frosty Hawk while we talked. Tyrell woulda laughed every time I lost my balance and fell on my ass. Maurice helped me up and asked me if I was okay. And I was.

It was good. The night was fun… Maurice was sexy.

Since Will and Maurice were in high school, Lavisha and I didn’t have to worry about passing them in the hall, and I didn’t have to act different around Tyrell.

“I wouldn’t want to be them,” I told Lavisha. We were studying in her room so her parents wouldn’t hear us talkin’.

“Why not?” She sounded offended. “They got two hot pieces of ass!”

I rolled my eyes and she started laughing.

“I mean, they’re side pieces. I ain’t ever gonna be no nigga’s side piece.”

I thought about it a lot. Lavisha met Will through Cletus. Knowing she was taken, Will still wanted her. Will told Maurice up front that I was somebody’s girlfriend, but he didn’t care either.

“We ain’t gonna be side pieces,” Lavisha agreed. “We gonna be heartbreakers, like those bomb ass chicks in movies.”

I thought about that too, how the heartbreakers never came out on top in one piece.

By Thanksgiving I’d fucked Maurice. I didn’t ask him about it, but I think he was more experienced or something. Or, maybe it was like Lavisha said. Maybe high school boys were just better.

It felt good though. I’d chill and fuck with Maurice on weekends. During the week, I could walk up and down the hall in school with Tyrell’s arm around my waist. He and I fooled around after school, before my mom came home from work. I had to make sure I was keeping him satisfied so he wouldn’t get suspicious or start asking questions.

Friday nights, I’d tell my mom I was going to Lavisha’s house. Sometimes I would and we’d go on double dates. Maurice’s mom or dad would drive us though because they didn’t know about Cletus. Without Cletus, there wasn’t nothing fishy going on. Like, Will’s parents were close with Cletus’, so they knew Cletus and Lavisha were together. Lavisha’s and my parents knew our boyfriends. So, at Maurice’s house we could all just be together without looking over our shoulders and shit. And when we did go out, we picked the movie theater out in Warrington because it was a good forty five minutes out. I don’t know what Maurice said to get his parents to take us out there because nobody else’s parents wanted to drive their kids that far.

“You been spending more time with Lavisha than your boyfriend lately,” mom said.

It was a Sunday morning and she was making breakfast so we could eat before church. She still had curlers in, and she’d slipped out of one of her house shoes to rub Carl’s, our cocker spaniel’s, back.

Dad looked up from his Sunday Philadelphia Tribune. “That’s how it should be,” was all he said, looking at me, not at mom.

“All I’m saying is it’s been awhile since I seen Tyrell ‘round here.” She raised one of her eyebrows and looked up from the eggs she was scrambling. They made the kitchen smell like allspice because that was her secret ingredient.

“I’ll bring him around,” I said. I decided to down my chocolate milk then, so she wouldn’t try to get me to talk anymore.

This agreement set some shit in motion. Dad told me to invite Tyrell over the next Saturday for lunch and an afternoon of board games. Tyrell and Dad had a friendly competition going with Monopoly, and we all liked playing UNO together. I liked having Tyrell over like that. It made me feel like we was grown, playing board games with my parents and Tyrell actin’ more mature. He knew how to put on a show when we was in front of them.

It was early December when Tyrell was supposed to come over. By then, Maurice and I had fucked four times; all on weekends, all on Saturdays. It was becoming a passionate orgasmic habit, so he was upset when I had to cancel. He was even more upset when I said no to Sunday. I don’t fuck on Sundays. I feel like God has his eyes on me after I been in church.

I guess that nigga told Will and Will told Lavisha because Lavisha came at me in school on Monday.

“Whatchu tryin’a do? You wanna pull out?”

“Shut up,” I hissed at her. We never talked about our cheatin’ shit at school because anyone could hear and tell Tyrell.

“Will told me you ain’t chill with-”

“What the fuck is it to you?” I asked, slamming my history textbook down in my locker.

This caught her attention; like it woke her up and made her realize the shit she was trying to talk in the place she was in.

“I just wanted to check up, see if you was okay.”

Bull. Fucking. Shit.

I told her anyways, “My parents asked me to invite Tyrell over on Saturday.”

“What about Sunday then?”

I stared at her.

“You still think Jesus be watchin’ yo ass?” She laughed. Hearing her say it made me laugh too. “Okay. Okay.” She calmed down. “So… y’all-” she paused to glance around. “Y’all still good?”

“Yeah,” I told her. “I can’t believe he snitched on me to y’all though. That’s some dumb shit.”

Lavisha just laughed at that. She didn’t agree with me. I thought about that later.

When Christmas break started, Lavisha invited me over for a sleepover. I almost asked if she was trying to play another trick on me, but then I remembered there was no fucking way her parents would let two boys sleep over (especially two boys that weren’t our boyfriends).

“What’s Tyrell getting you for Christmas?” Lavisha asked.

It was late, maybe one in the morning. Her parents were asleep, so we could talk in the living room and watch TV.

“I told him I need a new watch,” I said, not looking away from the TV. My parents didn’t want to pay for cable, so I had to catch up on my favorite shows at Lavisha’s house.

“A watch? Why you not ask for something nice?” She was smacking her gum again.

“A watch can be nice.”

“Mmmmmhm,” she hummed. “What about Maruice?”

“What about Maurice?” I was a little annoyed because Lavisha was talking over Tyra Banks’ critique of my favorite model on America’s Next Top Model.

“What he gettin’ you?”

I turned around and caught a whiff of her bubblemint breath. “I didn’t ask him for anything,” I told her.

Lavisha was texting real heavy and real fast. She didn’t look up from her phone. I almost turned back to my show.

“Whatchu mean you ain’t ask him for nothin’?”

When she did look at me, her eyes cut into me in a new way. I felt awkward, like I had dust or ants on me.

“He ain’t my boyfriend.”


“That would be, like, inappropriate.”

Lavisha scrunched up her brow and her mouth twisted into an ugly snarl.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

The bitch was taking it personally. I knew nothing good was gonna come, but my dumbass continued anyways.

“Why would you ask your side piece for a present?” I asked.

“Uh, I don’t know,” she said condescendingly, “More. Fucking. Presents.”

“What if Cletus asks you where it came from?”

“I’m not stupid, Sabrina. I’d say my parents gave it to me-”

“And,” I cut her off, “What if it’s romantic? What if he gets you something real nice and sweet that would be weird if your parents got it for you?”

Lavisha paused and I knew she’d done just that.

“Whatever.” She brushed me off and looked down at her phone.

I took her dismissal as a sign that I could turn my attention back to the TV. We didn’t talk for a while. My model didn’t get cut in that episode, but she did in the one after. I could hear Lavisha’s fingernails tapping her phone screen whenever the show had a slow moment.

Around three, I think, Lavisha slid down off of the couch and onto the carpet next to me. I could feel her watching me. I didn’t say anything until the show stopped for commercial.

“Hey,” I said, looking at her.

“Hey,” she said back, just as calmly and quietly. “I did something for you.”

She handed me her phone. It was unlocked and her screen was an open chat with Tyrell.

“Start here.” She pointed one of her chipped purple nails at the top of the screen. “And, read it to the end.”

I sat there, on the floor in Lavisha’s house at three in the morning, and read her telling Tyrell I’d been cheating on him. From the night at the Frosty Hawk, to sneaking around with Maurice on weekends, to what I told Lavisha about my first kiss and my first time with Maurice. She included screen shots of me telling her about receiving oral sex for the first time, how Tyrell never did that even though I’d “sucked his dick one too many times.” She included two pics of Maurice from his Facebook page. She ended by apologizing for not telling the truth sooner, how she thought he deserved to know.

This fugly hoebag bitchfaced motherfucker. Like, goddamn.

I wanted to scream, but I didn’t because Lavisha’s parents were asleep.

I wanted to cry, but I didn’t because I knew Lavisha wanted that.

I wanted to rip out her weave, claw at her face, and mark her in some way. No way would be as bad as she marked me though. People would find out that I cheated, and I’d be the cheater. Also, if we did fight, I’d be kicked out of her house into the 4 a.m. darkness to walk home alone.

I handed Lavisha her phone back and refocused my misty eyes on Tyra Banks. I focused on her and blocked out the sound of my phone vibrating beside me. I glanced down to see notifications from Tyrell, but I didn’t touch my phone because there was nothing I could say. I tried really hard to block out the overlapping images of Tyrell and of Maurice flashing across my mind. A wave of warmth came over me when I thought of them; the dates, the sex. Just the handholding alone gave me some flutter in my heart. With this getting out, I’d lost Tyrell. But that didn’t mean I lost Maurice.

Lavisha didn’t say shit to me, just accepted her phone and got back up on the couch. As much as I wanted to text Cletus and expose her too, I didn’t. I couldn’t. I was in shock, almost too shocked to move. I laid down on the carpet and watched America’s Next Top Model until my eyes blurred and stung.

I got up at six, waited for the sun to break, and walked home by myself.

RHIANNON RICHARDSON is an emerging writer from Oreland, Pennsylvania. She holds a BA in English from the University of Pittsburgh where she worked as an editor for Forbes & Fifth. She is currently writing a YA novel about a queer black teen’s experience grieving for her brother and feeling guilt over his death. Her writing has appeared in Across the Margin.