Down to the Core
by D. Magwood

Best friends Sayesha and Kayla are attractive young women who believe they have the world by the tail. Planning an evening is like mapping a strategy—not only what they are going to do, but what they want and how they’re going to get it. But it is the reckless confidence of youth, because everything is about to change for this pair of friends who share all and know each other better than they know themselves. Author Magwood excels in descriptions of urban street life. It’s not full-on ghetto but captured in the realistic tone and dialog. Moreover, portraits of home life are causal and delivered with confidence. This is a promising start to a story of friendship, challenges, and heartbreak, as well as a promising first novel from Magwood.


Chapter One

Sayesha MacMillan has always been the center of attention. She had the looks and the attitude. Being five feet six inches tall, with butter caramel skin, almond-shaped hazel eyes, a set of full lips, and curves to match, she was the shit, and she knew it. She didn’t need a nigga to tell her that she looked good; she knew it from the image that she saw on the daily in her full length mirror.

She walked from the train station to meet with her best friend, Kayla. Kayla Williamson was built like a track star, but still had curves in all the right places. Every nigga who she passed wanted what she had, and she knew it. Together, Sayesha and Kayla were a force to be reckoned with.

“So where to today?” Sayesha asked Kayla when Kayla opened the door.

“Well, I was hoping that we could hit up the mall first and then head out to get something to eat from Joe’s.”

“Okay, so let’s get moving. I want to get back so I could change my outfit and get ready for the club later,” Sayesha said.

“Well, damn, bitch, why are you rushing me and we ain’t even get anywhere yet?”

“Because I have someone that I want to meet with later before I get to the club, if you must know,” Sayesha said a little defensively.

“Well, damn, okay then, bitch. Let’s get the moving then, before you have a heart attack. Shit, I got a nigga to see my damn self,” Kayla said matter-of-factly.

“Who, that nigga Tae? Isn’t his nose wide the fuck open with that chick Jasmine?”

“No, it isn’t Tae, and I could care less what his ass is doing and how wide his nose is open for that bitch. She can have him for all I care,” Kayla said defensively.

“Yeah, sure, whatever you say. You know damned well that you want his ass. And from the looks of things, he wants you too. So both of ya’ll need to stop with the BS and get together already. Or do something wicked,” Sayesha said with a smirk.

Giggling, Kayla said, “Fuck you, and I’ll pass. He’s taken, and I don’t come second to anyone. I’m the number 1 bitch, and that will never change.”

Laughing, Sayesha walked with Kayla toward the train station to catch the train to downtown Brooklyn. As they were walking, they saw this boy named Travis. Travis and Sayesha had not gotten along since her early years of school. Now having graduated from high school, she still couldn’t stand his ass.

He looked at Sayesha and smirked at her as they walked past him.

“What is so damned funny?” Sayesha asked with an irritated look on her face.

“Nothing at all, Ms. Sayesha, how are you doing on this fine day?” Travis said with a hint of sarcasm.

She rolled her eyes. “I was doing just fine till I saw your damn face, and now I think that I may have to vomit,” Sayesha said while pretending to heave.

“Yeah, sure, so I guess there is no change in your damn attitude, is there?” Travis said and shook his head. “Enjoy the rest of your day.”

“Yeah, I’ll try my hardest,” Sayesha said and shook her head at him and grabbed Kayla’s arm and continued to walk to the train station.

Kayla busted out laughing once they were a block apart from Travis.

“What is so damned funny, bitch?”

“The two of you is what is so damned funny. Don’t you think that it is about time that you let all the unnecessary animosity go with him? I mean, it has been years since all that has happened. You were in junior high, for crying out loud. I’m starting to think that you two have a thing for each other,” Kayla said looking at Sayesha with a grin on her face.

“For one, I don’t have no thing for him, and two, I don’t have any animosity toward him. I just can’t stand his ass. What is the big deal on that? I’m not obligate to like him. And I don’t have to tolerate his ass either,” Sayesha said defensively.

“Yeah, sure, Sayesha, whatever you say,” Kayla said as they made it to the train station. “All I’m saying is that, you two can do something wicked, and then ya’ll won’t have to worry about being angry. All of the tension would be gone, don’t you think?” Kayla said sarcastically.

“Oh, so now your ass want to be funny? Just because I suggested for you and Tae to get freaky doesn’t mean that you can turn the shit on to me. The difference between me and you is you actually have feelings for Tae. I don’t have any feelings for Travis. And the feeling is mutual with him. He doesn’t want me, and I damned sure don’t want him. Now you and Tae, on
the other hand, is a whole different story. Shit, ya’ll two probably already fucked for all I know,” Sayesha said laughing.

“Ha-ha, very funny, Shay. Like I said before, I don’t come second to anyone, and he is taken. And even if he wasn’t taken, I don’t want him. End of story.”

“Of course you don’t,” Sayesha said and let the subject go."


* * *

“Yo, Jasmine, where you goin’?” Tae said, horny as hell, while lying on Jasmine’s bed.

“I’m getting dressed before my mother comes home. You get your ass up before you are a dead man. I do not want to see the look on my mother’s face when she walks her ass in here and find us fuckin’.”

“Fuckin’? Whatever happened to making love?”

“Is there a difference?”

“What do you mean ‘Is there a difference?’” Tae said with a look of disgust. “When you’re having sex with someone that is just a one-night stand, then it’s considered fuckin’. When you’re having sex with your man, it’s considered making love. I mean, from what you said, you love me, right? Or was that a lie?”

“No, it wasn’t a lie, Tae,” Jasmine said with a smile. “I do love you, and you know that, but you also know that my mother would have a coronary if she saw this. She is old fashioned. She can’t stand the thought of me fucking in her house, even though I’m nineteen.”

“Wow, and here we go again with that damn word. Anyway, I will get dressed then,” Tae said, shaking his head.

“And you know that she doesn’t really like you that much either. She tolerates you.”

“Wow, thanks for the FYI. And if that’s the case, then she will be tolerating me for a long time then.” He got up off the bed and wrapped his arms around her from behind, gently caressing her breasts, using his index fingers to make circles around her nipples. “Because I love you, and I’m not going anywhere.”

“Don’t start, Tae, you know what I said. My mother is on her way home. She should be home within the next twenty minutes,” Jasmine said while pushing his hands away.

“All right, Jasmine, I’ll leave you alone then.” And Tae got his clothes off the floor, where they had thrown them an hour and a half prior, and started to get dressed.

For some reason, he had a feeling that she was cheating on him. Each time he wanted to have sex, she would first say no. Was it him, or was she just interested in someone else? “If she’s cheating on me,” he said to himself, “I’ll beat her ass.”

He took a look at her from the side and saw her rushing to get dressed.

She noticed him looking at her and walked over, kissed him on the cheek, and said, “I do love you, you know that, right?”

Squeezing her tight, he whispered in her ear, “Yeah, you better.” Her mother got home a half hour late, which pissed him off.

She came rushing through the door, hands full of bags. “Are you guys going to help me or what? These things are heavy.” She threw the bags on the floor, walked into the kitchen, and sat down on the chair.

“What’s in the bags, mom?”

“Some much-needed groceries. Reach in one of them bags and hand me a soda. It’s seventy-five degrees out there, and it feels like eighty-five.”

“Mom, I’m going to the store, and then I’m going to walk him halfway home. I’ll be back in forty-five minutes.”

“Yeah, we’ll see.” Jasmine left the house with Tae and went first to the corner store and made her way toward his house. On the way there, they passed by one of his boys named Clarence.

Looking their way, he made a face at Jasmine, looked at Tae, and said, “What up, nigga? Haven’t seen you in a while.”

“Shit, just chillin’ wit’ my girl, on my way home now. Got shit to do.”

“Well, I’m goin’ to the Mariah Carey concert. Are you goin’?”

“Yeah, it’s at nine o’clock right?”

“Yeah, I’ll get there at about ten, you know, be fashionably late. Get all the bitches. You know the usual.”

“Yeah nigga, the usual. Well, let me head home and shower and shit. I’ll call you later and see what’s up.”

“A’ight nigga, I’ll see you at the concert,” Clarence said, and walked in the opposite direction of Tae and Jasmine. Tae and Jasmine continued walking toward his house. He grabbed her hand and kissed it, looked her in her eyes and said, “I will love you till death do us part.”

“And I feel the same way, babe,” Jasmine said with a wide smile, showing her pearly white teeth. She stopped and gave him a hug and a kiss.

The two of them walked a few more blocks and stopped.

“Well, let me get back to my house before I have to run from that crazy person. And you know that she’s crazy,” Jasmine said with a giggle.

“Okay then. I’ll see you at the concert.”

“All right.” At that point they parted and went their separate ways.

Back at home, her mother was starting dinner, making curry chicken, red rice and beans, and biscuits. Jasmine walked through the door, and her mother called her into the kitchen.

“That boy called here, and I told him that you had just walked out,” Cheryl said, looking at her daughter at the corner of her eye, expecting some sort of reaction.

“All right,” Jasmine said coolly and walked toward the kitchen chair and sat down. “I’ll call him back. He can wait.”

“Honey, why are you playing with that young boy’s heart like that? He’s a sweet boy, and I wish you would just tell him that you don’t want to be with him.”

“First of all, it’s my business, and I cannot be faithful to a boy who is interested in someone else. I know that he is interested in someone else, Ma. Her name is Kayla. Apparently, they’re just cool, but I don’t trust him, and I sure as heck don’t trust her.”

“So you think that it’s best to cheat on him, instead of leaving him alone? From what I see, he loves you, and frankly, I don’t think that I can keep up this charade of not liking him because I do. Just leave that boy alone, girl, or you will be the one that ends up hurt. I just hope that that boy is not one of Tae’s friends because that will hurt that boy even more than just finding out that you’re cheating.”

“Oh well, I don’t care.” At that point, Jasmine walked out of the kitchen. She walked into her room and closed the door behind her. “He’s gonna see how it feels to be played. And if I find out that he’s playin’ me with that bitch Kayla, he will find out the worst: that I’m fuckin’ somebody else. Take that, you bastard,” Jasmine said while smiling in the mirror on her dresser.

“Fuck love, love brings nothing but heartache. I refuse to be the bearer of that.” Jasmine picked up the phone in her room and dialed the other boy’s number. “Hey, baby, I missed you.”

* * *

“Damn, Shay, you can’t speak. What did I do to you now?”

“You know, when someone doesn’t want to be bothered with you. Why is it so hard for you to get that through your head?”

“Damn, Shay, I thought that by now all of that anger would have subsided. I guess not. But I’m not worried. I will have you one of these days. You wait and see,” Travis said, smiling and shaking his head at the same time.

“Sorry to burst your bubble, but you will never have me. I don’t care if you are the only boy on Earth and the only way that I would survive was to say that I was your girlfriend. I would rather die first. Kick rocks, ugly,” Sayesha said and walked the rest of the block down to Pitkin and cut down Hemlock Street and walked through the door.

“Mom, are you making dinner right now?”

“Yes, baby, why?”

“Because I’m going to the concert tonight and I wanna eat before I go."

“Of course you do. You should be cooking for me. You’re nineteen, Sayesha, not fourteen. But dinner will be ready in an hour,” Angela said to Sayesha with a giggle because she knew that her child wouldn’t lift a finger to cook anything even if her life depended on it.

“Okay, well, I’m going up to my room to start getting ready.” Sayesha ran up the stairs and half walked, half ran in her room. “Yes, I am going to look the best at the concert tonight, baby.” She walked over to the closet and pulled out her outfit for the night. It was red and white. Her shirt was a tank top that stopped midcenter of her stomach, and it was white with red trim. And she had her miniskirt to go with it. It was red with white trim and was tight as hell. She then pulled out her red-and-white pumps to match.

Laying the outfit on the bed, preparing to iron it, she left out the room to go take a shower. She couldn’t wait to get to the concert. Fuck being fashionably late; she wanted to be there on time, from when Mariah first hit the stage.

Twenty minutes later, she was out of the shower. It took her an hour and a half to get dressed and do her hair. By that time it was seven thirty, and she was ready to eat. The phone rang, and it was Kayla. “Yeah, heffa, whatchu want?”

“Are you ready yet?”

“Yeah, I’m about to eat. Then I’m gonna meet you at the concert. Unless you’re gonna meet me at my house, and then we can leave together.”

“All right then, I’ll meet you at your house. Wait till you see what I’m wearing.”

“No, you wait and see what I’m wearing,” Sayesha said with a giggle.

“Anyway, I’m gonna eat dinner, and by that time, you should be here.”

“All right, I’ll see you then.” And they hung up the phone.

“Well, look at what the cat dragged out. I guess you’re trying to get backstage, huh?”

“Yeah, hopefully I could get back there to meet her. Or I’ll just sneak back there,” Sayesha said with a sly grin.

“Um-hmm, don’t get caught. You know what happens when you get caught sneaking backstage, right?”

“What, I’ll get some husky man to carry me out?” she said laughing.

“Yeah, I bet that would be up your alley, huh? Maybe they’ll let you back there, you never know.”

“Yeah, Ma, I hope so. I need to get her autograph.” Fifteen minutes later, the doorbell rang and it was Kayla.

“Hi, Mrs. MacMillan, how are you tonight?” she said, giving her a hug.

“I’m fine, Kayla. I see that you’re looking nice also. I hope that the two of you have a nice time. And don’t come back with no babies,” Angela said, wagging her finger at the both of them.

“Seriously, Ma, we are not going to come back with no babies,” Sayesha said with a giggle.

“Yeah, sure you won’t. I’ll see you when you get home.”

While riding the number 4 train, Sayesha and Kayla ran into a boy named Rayshawn. He looked their way and walked over to say hello. “Well, well, well, what do we have here? Are ya’ll going to the Mariah Carey concert?”

“Yeah,” Sayesha said while eyeing him from head to toe. He was wearing brown and beige. A brown and beige fitted, a brown and beige short-sleeve shirt, and brown pants. What made it all come together was the fact that he had hazel brown eyes. Damn, he looked good! “I see that you’re all dressed up.”

“Yeah, Mariah Carey is the girl, man. She could hit them high notes like it ain’t nothin’. I hope that I get her autograph,” Rayshawn said, looking at Sayesha the same way that she was looking at him.

“Well, we have front-row seats to the concert, so we are gonna be able to smell the type of perfume she have on,” Kayla said laughing at her own joke.

Rayshawn sat down next to Sayesha and nudged her in her side playfully and gave her a half hug from the side. “So when are you gonna call me, Shay?”

“I don’t even have your number, Shawn, so how am I gonna call you, through the window?” Sayesha said, making a gesture with her hand as if she were calling someone from across the room.

“Oh, all right, no problem then. Where is your phone? I’ll put my number in it for you. I mean, you do have a phone, right?” Rayshawn said sarcastically.

“Yeah, I have a phone, smart ass. You’re trying to be funny?”

“Not at all, just trying to give you my number,” he said, looking at her that same way again, but this time with a smile that showed all of his perfect pearly white teeth and brightened his hazel eyes.

“What the hell is goin’ on around here? What did I just miss in a matter of minutes? Don’t be trying to flirt with her now, and you ain’t been paying her no mind for the past year. Fly bird, fly,” Kayla said to Rayshawn with a giggle.

“Oh, shut up, Kayla, nobody was talking to you, so mind your biz. Continue talking to whoever you were talking to on the phone, and let me and Shay have our conversation, thank you,” Rayshawn said, making a girl gesture of putting his hand in her face from behind Sayesha and then slightly nudging her arm.

“Okay, the both of you be quiet for a second. Who said that I wanted your number? All I said was that I didn’t have your number to be able to call you. But I will take it just in case,” Sayesha said with a smirk.

The train stopped at their stop, and they got off. They reached the concert hall, and they casually walked inside. Of
course they didn’t want to seem too desperate like the rest of the people that were already screaming at the top of their lungs. They grabbed some hot dogs and sodas and went to grab their seats. Fortunately for Rayshawn, he was able to sit next to Sayesha because someone didn’t show up.

Five minutes later, Mariah Carey walked out onto the stage and began performing, starting with “Don’t Forget about Us.” And the crowd went wild.


book text © D. Magwood

Return to USR Home