In stories that are simple yet elegant, hard-hitting yet poignant, J. California Cooper writes about the search for fulfillment that propels people’s dreams and desires. In “As Time Goes By” a young woman named Futila Ways grows up focusing her dream of a better future on material wealth, only to discover that having everything she ever wanted cannot compensate for the emptiness in her heart. “The Eye of the Beholder” recounts the story of an unattractive young girl, Lily Bea, whose search for love leads her to embrace her own brand of freedom. And in “Catch a Falling Heart” a woman mildly crippled in a fall endures loneliness and solitude until she finds a man and provides a resting place for his love. Each story beautifully conveys the profound human need to seek some sort of satisfaction, just as a wild star seeks a midnight sun.
J. California Cooper’s insights into the hearts and souls of ordinary people and her irresistible storytelling voice have endeared her to fans and critics. As Ms. magazine wrote, “Cooper’s stories beckon. It is as if she is patting the seat next to us, enticing us to come sit and listen.”
J. CALIFORNIA COOPER is the author of the novels Family and In Search of Satisfaction, and of several short-story collections: Homemade Love, the winner of the 1989 American Book Award; A Piece of Mine; The Future Has a Past; Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime; The Matter Is Life; and Some Soul to Keep. She is also the author of seventeen plays and has been honored as Black Playwright of the Year. She lives in northern California.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. :
As Time Goes By
This story happened in this small town to a friend of mine named Futila Ways. The people here are the same as any people in any small middlin town anywhere in America, or the world, for that matter. There's a'many of them. Maybe a little poorer than some, with many things less accessible than in large cities.
There are churches galore and a few schools, clothing stores of the cheaper variety. People who happened to have money could afford to go to better places to shop. Womens here have to look out of town for a husband, sometimes, cause you can get sick of the people you grow up with. But, after all, it was a nice, quiet, clean, boring little place.
The town must'a had promising beginnings a long time ago. Large landowners had built large proud houses on their land. But, now, over a hundred years or so, their descendants had sold off most of the land to small developers in this part of the town. A few of the large houses remained and several rows of small houses had crept up to them.
Futila's family lived in one of the old, but neat little houses sitting in a row on Coulda Street with a younger sister, Willa, an older brother, Eddy Jr., a domestic-working mother, and a father who was a labor-mechanic at a gas station. He just kept the tools in order in the right places, didn't do much mechanic work on cars. He did his work well and kept a job so they had the bare necessities of life.
Mr. Ways (he doesn't know where his grandfather got that name from) did not have a sensitive turn of mind so he cut down the big, grand black-oak tree, and another tall beautiful tree I don't know the name of, in the front yard so he wouldn't have to rake leaves, umph umph. Then he covered the ground with cement so he wouldn't have to mow it. Just removed all the beauty and close bird songs. He wanted to do the backyard also, but his wife stopped him; she said she wanted to have a patch of land to plant a kitchen garden.
Mrs. Ways was tired and weary. Besides her regular working jobs she took care of her mother, Gramma, who suffered lifelong ills because she had struggled through the struggles. She was old and had even known people who had been slaves.
In this house Futila tried to dream about a future, her future, on hot sweaty summer nights as she threw off the damp sheet, or cold wintry nights as she pulled the wash-worn, threadbare blanket high around her neck. She was trying to see in the dark, beyond her here and now, to when and if. Just like most any poor girl anywhere in the world.
Her grandmother, sighting her grandchild staring off in some space, always talked about education. "Get that education, child, and be about thinkin your way out of here. Don't, and you gonna end up like me and your mama. Stead'a taken what you want, you gonna have to take what you can get! Where your books?! Get them books and bring em in here and teach me what you learnin in that school. Maybe I can learn somethin and get outta all this misery my own self!"
Futila loved her gramma, but didn't think Gramma knew anything about life. She would answer, "Ain't got no books! Just got some little notes I done made when the teacher was talkin."
Gramma, sitting in her rocker chair, would hit the floor hard with her knotty cane. "Bring them notes then, girl! Learn me somethin! Your sister, Willa, have books so why don't you? Put somethin in your fool-head sides of them boys!" Gramma knew her grandchild.
It was true; Futila dreamed of boys a lot. She was fourteen going on fifteen years old; her body was developing on time as it was supposed to. Had shoulder-length hair she was always fooling with, keeping it neat and near-styled. She had to wash her own clothes when the old washing machine didn't work so her clothes were not dirty, but not clean either. "Oh," she thought, "I just got such a hard time to make my future out of. I ain't never gonna get to be nobody." Then she would daydream in her classes about the man-boy "I'm gonna marry and he gonna take me way from here. He gonna work and buy me whatever I need and want! I'll help em. I'll work too! But not like my mama works. No domestic for me! Please, God, let him come soon!"
Younger sister Willa played on the junior basketball team (when they had a basketball) and volleyball team (when they had a volleyball). She was an active young lady. She didn't study hard because she thought she didn't like to read, but she made good grades anyway. She had to, because her friend Martha, a Jewish girl who lived in one of the grand decaying old houses up Coulda Street a ways, always made good grades.
Mrs. Ways worked for Martha's father taking care of the house and cooking for Martha. Martha's mother was dead and her father was often gone on some surveying job somewhere. There was many interesting things to do there, drawing tables, telescopes, microscopes, and books, books, books. Oh, all kind'a things for little girls to do. Martha wanted to be a scientist but knew her father's money was not so great all the time. She still studied hard anyway, even at such an early age, so she could get scholarships for college someday.
Willa told Martha, "You gonna have to study the rest of your life to be a scientist! That's too much for me. I don't know what I want'a do, but I'm ready to try to do it. I sure ain't gonna stay in this place and marry none of these knuckle-head boys round here!" Willa really liked her friend Martha and was often at her house whether her own mother was there or not. There were so many interesting things to do!
Martha was not a wild child, but her interest was in wild things, insects, plants, trees, and the like. They spent much of their time outside on the land that stretched all around. Willa followed Martha around. Sometimes they even crept out in the nights to study stars with the little worn telescope Martha's father had given her. Searching and collecting, studying, until Willa developed such an interest she began to find things to collect even when she wasn't with Martha.
Futila told Willa, "You all must be crazy! Walkin round in the dark with all them snakes out there! Lookin up at the sky like a fool!" Then she would smugly return to her thoughts of boys.
Futila was as popular as most girls at school because she had sizable breasts. The man-boy she dreamed of didn't show up to carry her away so, obviously, he wasn't at her school or anywhere in town.
A year or so passed as Martha worked hard on her scholarship, still planning to go to college. And now Willa had buckled down to study because she wanted to go to college; any college. Martha said to her, "No . . . You have to choose a college that excels at what you want to study, then you know you will learn what you need to know to be able to do what you want to do. Since we both want the same things you ought to try to come where I am going." So they were both working hard on their scholarships. Martha's dad provided them with extra reference books and catalogues from universities. Martha kept her specimens in drawers and long shelves; Willa kept hers in odd boxes she was able to find, under her bed.
Futila scoffed at them, laughingly teased Willa. "You ain't gonna be no scientist or nothing. You just copyin that ole white girl, Martha, and she gonna leave you in the dust cause you can't go where she go!"
That was when Willa hitched her dream to a moving star and started doing jobs to save money. She baby-sat, washed clothes, weeded gardens, cleaned some houses, and saved every dime. When there was time from working and her studies, she and Martha continued their searches for things to study in any pasture full of trees and "wild" things.
Gramma always took a few dollars from her little government check to divide among her grandchildren. Now she gave Futila only a third as much money as before, and added it to Willa's share. She didn't take from Eddy Jr. "He a man," she said without explanation.
Mr. Ways wanted to help Willa, he liked what she was trying to do, but couldn't spread his money any further than it was already spread. He began splitting firewood logs for people after his regular job. He added that money to Willa's savings. He wanted to see his children "get somewhere" in their lives. After two months of this he pulled muscles in his back and could no longer do even his regular job at the filling station unless it was lying under the automobile with his back flat.
Mrs. Ways tried to interest Futila in the excitement of Willa going to college. "What are you gonna do with yourself, sister? Don't you want to make some kind'a plan for your life? You see what I'm doin and how Papa and me are struggling round here. You not even gettin good grades in school. When you get grown and graduate from that school, we not gonna take care of you. We tired. We need some rest. Your sister is tryin to help herself. You betta try to do somethin to help yourself, too!"
Futila waved the words away, saying, "You ain't got to worry bout me. I'm a have a plan. Willa ain't so smart noway. She just follow whatever that white girl do!"
As she walked away with an armload of folded clothes, Mrs. Ways said, "She usin her own brain and everything she learn is hers. She ain't followin no fool, and she doin what SHE wants to do. If she get to that college and get a certificate and a job, her checks is gonna have HER name on em, not nobody else's, Miss Smartbutt!"
After graduation from high school Martha got her first scholarship and was sent away for higher learning to college. Willa hated to see her friend leave, and wished she had studied even harder than she had. But she kept saving even more of her money. She did without everything but pencils and paper. Letters came from Martha often, filled with references to their favorite subjects. Willa would take her letters into whatever room was empty and read them, over and over.
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Description du livre Doubleday. Hardcover. État : New. 0385511337 . N° de réf. du libraire AUD2135TCGG051017H1548P
Description du livre Doubleday, 2006. Hardcover. État : New. book. N° de réf. du libraire 0385511337
Description du livre Doubleday, 2006. Hardcover. État : New. N° de réf. du libraire DADAX0385511337
Description du livre Doubleday, 2006. Hardcover. État : New. N° de réf. du libraire P110385511337
Description du livre Doubleday. Hardcover. État : New. 0385511337 New Condition. N° de réf. du libraire NEW6.0181718