Sho nuff they’s a big pink polky-dot box. Got cellophane across the front, and inside they’s the doll baby tall as Mae Mobley. Name Allison. She got blond curly hair and blue eyes. Frilly pink dress on. Evertime the commercial come on the tee-vee Mae Mobley run over to the set and grab the box on both sides, put her face up to the screen and stare so serious. Miss Leefolt look like she gone cry herself, looking down at that toy. I reckon her mean old mama never got her what she wanted when she little Cloud Computing.

In the kitchen, I fix some grits without no seasoning, and put them baby marshmallows on top. I toast the whole thing to make it a little crunchy. Then I garnish it with a cut-up strawberry. That’s all a grit is, a vehicle. For whatever it is you rather be eating.

The three little pink candles I done brought from home is in my pocketbook. I bring em out, undo the wax paper I got em in so they don’t turn out bent. After I light em, I bring them grits over to her booster chair, at the white linoleum table in the middle a the room.

“Cause most of em grown. Lot of em already having babies a they own.”

Lordy, she look confuse. She doing her figuring, like she be trying to count it all up. Finally I say, “You one of em, too. All the babies I tend to, I count as my own.”

I start washing the dishes. The birthday party tonight just gone be the family and I got to get the cakes made. First, I’m on do the strawberry one with the strawberry icing. Every meal be strawberry, if it was up to Mae Mobley. Then I do the other one hong kong services apartment.

“Let’s do a chocolate cake,” say Miss Leefolt yesterday. She seven months pregnant and love eating chocolate.

Now I done planned this last week. I got everything ready. This too important to be occurring to me the day before. “Mm-hmm. What about strawberry? That be Mae Mobley’s favorite, you know.”

“Oh no, she wants chocolate. I’m going to the store today and get everything you need.”

Chocolate my foot. So I figured I’d just go on and make both. At least then she get to blow out two sets a candles.

I clean up the grits plate. Give her some grape juice to drink. She got her old baby doll in the kitchen, the one she call Claudia, with the painted-on hair and the eyes that close. Make a pitiful whining sound when you drop it on the floor dekang .