printed copy

God Still Don't Like Ugly

Mary Monroe

ISBN 9780758231482
Publish Date 7/1/2008
Format Paperback
Categories Fiction, Dafina

New York Times bestselling author Mary Monroe’s heart-stopping tale about a woman who’s suffered too much to give up on herself, even if everyone else has…

Growing up, Annette Goode thought all men were as low-down as the father who abandoned her, including the boarder who abused her for years and the men she slept with to earn the money she needed to run away from her life. Now, after decades of heartache and severing ties with her dangerously unstable friend Rhoda, Annette’s real life has started to take shape…

But her dark past won’t let her go. When an old secret scares away her fiancé, Annette settles with Pee Wee Davis, her on-again, off-again sweetheart since childhood. Then her ex-friend Rhoda suddenly walks back into her life, forcing Annette to decide what she should believe—and what she can forgive—as she tries to salvage the one relationship she just can’t seem to let go…

“Mary Monroe is a remarkable talent.” —Chicago Sun-Times

Chapter One

I used to wonder what I would look like if I had been born white. Now I know.

The white woman standing on the steps of the wraparound porch of the shabby clapboard house could have been my twin. As far as I could tell, sandy blond hair and a narrow nose were the only things she had that I didn’t have. I had to repress a gasp. I had to remind myself that this woman and I shared the same amount of blood from the same man. Black blood.

Throughout my plane ride from Richland, Ohio, to Miami, where I’d originally come from, with the help of several glasses of strong wine, I had composed and rehearsed several speeches. I had no idea what the appropriate things were to say to a father who had deserted me when I was a toddler, more than thirty years ago. What I wanted to say was not what I planned to say. It would have been too much, too soon. Good to see you again, Daddy. By the way, because of you, I had to spend ten years of my childhood living under the same roof with my rapist. But don’t worry, my playmate killed him for me and we didn’t get caught. I had promised myself that I would say something simple and painless. But now my head was spinning like a loose wheel and I felt like I was losing control of my senses. I didn’t know what was going to slide out of my mouth.

Confronting my daddy was going to be painful enough. But having to deal with him and a white woman who looked like me at the same time was going to be another story. Especially since I’d hated my looks for so many years.

I sat in the cab parked in front of the house on Mooney Street that steamy afternoon in August, looking out the window at that ghostly woman standing on her front porch, looking at me. The makeup that had taken me half an hour to apply was now melting and slowly sliding, like thick mud, down the sides of my burning face. I had licked off most of my plum-colored lipstick during the cab ride from the airport. Warm sweat had almost saturated my new silk blouse, making it stick to my flesh like a second layer of skin.

When the impatient cabdriver cleared his throat to get my attention, I paid him, tipped him ten percent, and tumbled out of the cab, snagging the knee of my L’eggs pantyhose with the corner of my suitcase.

As soon as my feet hit the ground, I looked around with great caution, because this was Liberty City, the belly of one of Miami’s roughest, predominately Black areas. I had hidden all of my cash in a cloth coin purse and pinned it to my girdle, but I still clutched my shoulder bag and looked around some more. I would have been just as cautious if I’d just landed in Beverly Hills. As far as I was concerned, the world was full of sharks; no place was safe for a female on her own. Especially one who attracted as much turmoil as I did.

It appeared to be a nice enough neighborhood, despite its reputation. The lawns were neat and the few Black people I saw seemed to be going on about their business like they didn’t have a care in the world. In front of the house to my left, a man in overalls was watering his grass with a hose, while a gospel singer wailed from a radio on the ground next to his feet. The man smiled and greeted me with a casual wave. I smiled and waved back.

An elderly woman, looking bitterly sad and walking with a cane, shuffled pass me. “How you doin’ this afternoon, sister?” she asked me in a raspy voice, hawking a gob of brown spit on the cracked sidewalk, missing my foot by a few inches.

“I’m fine, thank you,” I replied, hopping out of the way as the old woman dropped another load of spit. “Sister,” I added as an afterthought, even though the old woman didn’t hear me. It was a word I had to get used to now. Especially because of the sister with the blond hair on the porch looking in my direction.

The glare from the blazing sun made the woman on the porch squint. Then she shaded her eyes with a thick hand that displayed rings on every finger, including her thumb. She stared at me with her mouth hanging open. She seemed just as stunned as I was by our matching features. I was glad that she was the one to break the awkward silence. “Honeychile, come on up here so I can hug you! I been waitin’ a long time for this day.”

For a few moments, I just stood in the same spot, looking toward the porch, blinking hard to hold back my tears. Words danced around in my head, but I still didn’t know which ones to release.

A limp, plaid bathrobe that looked more like a patchwork quilt covered the woman from the neck on down to her wide, dusty bare feet. It pleased me to see that blood wasn’t the only thing we shared. Judging from her size, she enjoyed food as much as I did. I couldn’t tell where her waistline was, but the belt to her bathrobe had been tied into a neat knot below her massive chest. Her body looked as much like an oil drum as mine did. I had been wearing a size twenty four for the past ten years. I couldn’t lose a single pound no matter what I did. To me, diets were a rip-off and exercise was too dangerous for people in my shape. An obese woman from my church had had a heart attack and died while trying to do sit-ups. Therefore, I ate everything I wanted to. I figured that since we all had to die eventually anyway, I might as well enjoy myself along the way.

I had been stout every day of my life. My mother said I’d been such a butterball of a baby, she had to diaper me with pillowcases. I was finally comfortable with being large, but it was more important that I was now comfortable with just being myself. With me, comfort and strength were one and the same. It had enabled me to do a lot of things that I had been afraid to do for years. Like tracking down the daddy I hadn’t seen since I was three years old. Unlike some of the other abandoned children I knew, I had refused to write my daddy off until I got some answers. I wanted to see him again and I wanted him to see me.

At least one more time.

About Mary Monroe:

Mary Monroe is the third child of Alabama sharecroppers, and the first and only member of her family to finish high school. Mary never attended college or any writing classes. She spent the first part of her life in Alabama and Ohio, moved to Richmond, California in 1973, and has lived in Oakland since 1984. Her first novel, The Upper Room, was published in 1985 and was widely reviewed throughout the U.S. and in Great Britain. She is a recipient of the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award for her novel God Don't Like Ugly.


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