Untitled Assignments

by Dorienne Smith

Two English 565 Writing Assignments

*While based on some facts, both stories are fiction.



Again. It’s happened again.

Once again, I’m sitting in the choir stands of our small, stifling church, preparing to sing another loved one home to her Lord.

Others around me engage in tearful embraces as I try not to be noticed in the growing crowd. I don’t want the others to notice my spreading grimace as I stare at the varying shades of brown faces that are mourning together.

I know what they’ll never admit, especially today. Aside from the occasional smile and wave “hello” once MawMaw had fallen into their line of sight, these others never appreciated her, cared for her or loved her. To them, she was just the one woman in the wheelchair who sat in the back of the church, the one woman with only leg, the one woman who sometimes wore the fake leg and popped it off from time to time to offer the candy that lay within to jaded children who did not mind. To them she was just a person, an odd person, to be tolerated as we are all supposed to be Christians and supposed to tolerate everyone. They are all crying now, but they never really loved her; it’s almost as if they’re at the “homegoing” just to say that they had to go to one. They’re not like me.

She wasn’t my grandmother, but she was still MawMaw to me and I still love her as I sit knowing that a “goodbye” looms before me.

My cousin squeezes my hand as she passes me to her own seat in the stands. There is a question in her eyes: Have you seen her yet?

I shake my head silently. It was unnerving enough to see my friend, my role model, my spiritual leader in her casket, not a month earlier. I don’t think I can do this again, not by myself.

“Nita can take you now,” my cousin says.

I notice that she does not to take me to the casket herself; apparently one tear-filled “goodbye” look is more than enough.

My legs wobble as I descend from the choir stands to approach my friend standing in front of the casket with a visibly heavy heart.

For a moment I wonder if I even need to see MawMaw in her grey casket. Perhaps just knowing that she had gone home to her Lord was enough?

I shake the thought from my head as I come to the edge of the casket where Nita stands and take a deep breath. By the time I come around the corner of the casket to see MawMaw’s face darkened by makeup, tears are already blurring my vision and Nita pulls me into a hug.

“It’s okay, Babygirl,” Nita says. “Look at her. That’s peace right there. No more hurt, no more pain. She’s at peace.”

I try to nod in agreement, but my attempt at holding back my remaining tears is causing my body to simply shake and I know nothing more can be done. The shaking only begins to stop as Nita and I walk back toward the choir stands and I suddenly feel very foolish for not being able to complete my desired task.

Within minutes, MawMaw’s daughters are seated in the front row of the church and the choir director is leading us in a joyful song; “homegoings” are never supposed to be sad.

My tears dry as I sing the words to our church’s remix of “Rock of Ages” and my eyes catch a glint of light coming from the casket.

Goodbye MawMaw.




The red locker opened with a squeaking swing and Benjamin threw each of his books into the metallic container, each one falling with a muffled bang as they fell to the bottom of the locker.

Goodbye, Alegbra, he thought as he tossed the math book into the locker. I knew I never needed you in the first place.

A large green textbook escaped his fingers and missed the locker. Benjamin kicked it into the locker with a huff. So long, Biology. You bastard. I never believed in evolution in the first place.

“Physics?” he said aloud as he stared at the blue book with images of rockets overlaying simple schematics of ramps. “Newton was a retard. I say the apple that fell on his head knocked a few screws loose.”

The blonde freshman girl who stood gathering her own books for the day stared at him, confused for a moment and then hurried away from him as quickly as she could.

“History,” Benjamin continued. “All bull! I don’t care what Napoleon did. I don’t care that Americans locked Japanese into internment camps in the 1940s. I don’t want to learn this history over and over and over again. I doesn’t matter. I repeats itself no matter. December 7, 1941 or September 11, 2001. It doesn’t matter. It’s all the same.”

The thick history book hit the bottom of the locker with a dull thud and he stared at the last book in his hand. He squeezed the copy of The Great Gatsby for a moment, prepared to throw it too into the locker. The eyes that looked like Greek sculptures of women stared back at him from the depths of a blue face that served a background for a series of city lights.

This I’ll keep…for now.

With “Gatsby” stuffed in his jeans pocket, Benjamin slammed the locker door shut and walked with the rest of the students toward the school buses that stood waiting outside the building.

He walked past the preppy, popular kids grinning stupidly at one another as if everything in the world was made specifically for them, past the Goths who looked as if they were about to die on the feet, past the crowd of token black students who stood “rhyming” together to prove how different they were from the white kids. Benjamin was leaving all of them and, more importantly, he did not care.