“Well, sit down. Ain’t no use in just standing around.” She reached behind her and grabbed the box of tissue she kept on the table beside the old blue sofa and held it out for her daughter.

Belinda’s mother sat in front of her wash basket and folding the pile of clothes she’d pulled from the dryer moments before she saw Belinda on the sidewalk. She waited, folding patiently until her only child could get herself together.

When she could, Belinda dried her tears and looked at her mother. And her mother looked back. She knew when she’d made the decision to keep this baby; she was going to need her mother, at least for a little while. But she also knew her mother wasn’t going to make it easy for her.

“Mama...” She started, took a deep breath and then started again. “Mama, I need a little help.”

“What kind of help you need from me?” Her mother curled her lips and folded her arms across her chest. Belinda turned away from the look in her mother’s eyes. She knew it would be difficult to get her mama to let her move back in, but she never expected open hostility. She decided to try another approach.

“See my baby Mama?” Belinda got up and knelt beside the folded towels. “It’s a boy.” She uncovered his head and held him up so her mother could see him. “His name is Jackson, the Third. You have a grandson, Mama.”

Her mother looked at the baby. Her hands were itching to take her grandson in her arms, but she wouldn’t, she couldn’t. The last time she did, the last time she held her grandson, her daughter just up and gave him away. She never saw James, her Jimmy, again.

She turned her head and hardened her heart. “What do you want, Belinda?”

“I need somewhere to stay for a while until I can get myself together.” Belinda decided she may as well come right out with it. With her mother, it was better to not make her wait for any explanations.

“Why can’t you stay with his daddy? That’s where you been, ain’t it?” She snatched another towel from the basket, roughly folded it before throwing it on top of the pile of neatly folded towels.

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