I pulled into my mama's driveway. The house still looked the same way. I had been gone for two years and hadn't seen or spoken to her. I didn't even know what I was going to say to her. What if she turns her back on me like she did when she threw me out? Well, it's worth a try. Mama, I'll back! I tried out a face and expression in the rearview mirror. Naw, that ain't gon' work. I looked in the mirror at myself and started a new one. Mama, I'm sorry. Now, can I come home? I put on a sad expression. Naw, that sounds too much like a command. Aw, **** it. Let me get up out this car before I change my mind. I looked in the mirror one finally time and made sure every hair was in place and every piece of clothing was covering me. Mama might have changed but I knew she was still into that bible and me nor anyone else was going to change that fact. My clothes had to be on properly or she wasn't even gon' talk to me. ****, she was like that when I was under her roof and I knew better anyway. I walked up to the door. I was about to knock. My hand was almost there but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I turned back around and headed for my Esclade. Before I was even off the porch mama opened the door like she was physic or sumthin'. I turned around and nervously smiled. "Mama." She looked at me with a sense of pride. "I thought I heard somebody out here." She curled her lips but it wasn't a smile. "Mama." Was that all I was going to say? Well, that was all that could come out my mouth. I walked closer towards her. She had gotten older looking within the two years I had been gone. Her face had started to go wrinkled and her hair had grown almost all the way gray. She had changed her dressing habits too. She looked like somebody's grandma or something now and she was nothin' but 44. She had on an appron with a flowery dress underneath. "Aw, baby." She met me half way and hugged me. "C'mere." "Mama, I'm so sorry." It was sincere. I broke down crying. "It's alright. Shhh, it's going to be okay." She held me in her arms. I had hurt mama so much over the last few years. I had totally disrespected her. I didn't realize it when I was doing it but it I finally realized now. Mama had only tried to help me over the years and I didn't even care. I step right over her to become what I (am/ was) today. Mama made sure I went to church every other day and twice on Sundays but none of it went into my heart. I had sexed and showed my body to all kinds of men throughout the years and no one really cared but her. Mama was holier than thou but she was my mama and somewhere along the way I totally forgot that. "Aw, baby. Come on in the house." She helped me in the house as I continued to cry. Once we were inside mama made me some sweet tea. She kept it warm just how I liked it. I smiled at the fact that she had remember that. "Now, what wrong baby? Are you okay?" "Yes, mama. I just wanted to apologize for all that I have done to you. I didn't mean to hurt you. It's just........" I started crying again. "It's just that I feel so stupid." "Aw baby, you're not stupid. You was just blinded by the devil. That's all." She came over to the love seat and cradled me in her arms. "Yeah but mama you don't understand. Somewhere between living with you and living on my own I forgot about the person who love me the most, you. I'm am so sorry mama." I hugged her as tight as I could without breaking a bone. "Nikki, you did what you did so you could learn. No one can judge you but God so that's the person you should be apologizing to not me baby." She said in her motherly tone. "I know." I settled in her arms. “Mama, can I....” I was cut off by a knock at the door. I looked at her, she looked at me, and together we looked towards the door. Who could that be? Mama ain't never had a visitor in her life not even from dem church folk. She walked over to the door smiling. She was smiling like she had won the Lotto or sumthin‘. I looked at her suspiciously. When she opened the door I saw why she was smiling. Mama had found herself a young man. Go mama! He had a bouquet of roses in his hands and he hugged her as he came in. Most people would be mad if their mama went with a man that looked half their age but not me. I was happy for her. She was going to be like Stella and get her groove back. Or should I say, she had already got her groove back. No telling how long they been bangin’ each other. She finally had someone to worry about instead of me. She smiled as she lead him into the living room. She stopped just before me. “Honey, meet Jeremy. He’s my.....” She trailed off as if she didn’t know what know what to say. She looked over at him before she continued for his support. He smiled at her. “ He’s my husband.” She finally said bluntly. Husband? What? Did I hear her right? "What?" I said out loud. Mama looked at me. "Yes, we met one day at church and we have been together ever since. He's a deacon at the church." "Oh, well that's great." I put on a feak smile. How could she? I was happy for her but I was sad at the same time. Mama was a grown woman and she could make her own decisions but I did't know if this was right. I had only been gone for two years and she had already forgot me. However, she had a glow that I had never brought her face. Maybe, she was happy. I was no one to break that up. Forget this! I got up. "Well, it's nice to meet you." I shook his hand. "I'm Nikki." "Yes, I know. You are all I hear about. It's good finally seeing you in person." Mama smiled with pride and happiness. "Yes, well I have to go. I just wanted to check on my mama. Bye. Ya'll be safe. " Mama's face turned to disappointment. "No, you just got here." "I know mama, but I have to go to work. I'm sorry." I lied. "Well, okay." She hugged me tightly. I took one finally look at her. "I love you so much mama." "I love you too." She kissed me once more and I walked passed them to the door. I walked silently to the my Esclade. They watched me in the door all hugged up. Once I had made it in the car a tear fell from my eyes. I waved to them and I drove off. I didn't make it far before I had to pull over to the side of the road. The tears that had started falling blurred my vision. Mama had finally gotten a life of her own. She was happy. I wasn't, that's why I didn't want to mess up her joy. She had a man to please her now. She didn't need me. But I needed her. However, I worried about her more and her happiness was all that matter. I sat there in the car under an overpass and cried my little heart out. This was my last time in my old neighborhood. My last time with my mama. I decided I wouldn't see my mama ever again. I had never made her happy and I would NEVER again make her sad. She deserved all the happiness that God had blessed her with and it was obvious I was not in the plan. I wiped my last tear and I drove off. I drove until I got tired then i drove again. I drove until I ended up as far from Atlanta as I could. That way I would be sure I would never see her again. I ended up in LA, Cali. I built a pretty good life there. I married a man named Marcus Gunn and I had two children. Stripping wasn't easy but without it I don't think I could have made the life I've got today. The money I saved from stripping I used to buy a two bedroom house in Berverly Hills. That was where I met Marcus Gunn. He's an actor and he makes a grip at it. Mama had found someone who made her happy and like her I did also. Monique got out the hospital and went back to stripping at The Nugget. She thought that they had forgot about the incident like she had. And for sometime it seemed so. Two weeks ago, I saw a report in the paper about her. She was killed and left hanging on top of an I-85 overpass. It made me sad when I saw it but after a while I decided that it was her fault. She was the one who told me that stripping wasn't easy but she hadn't believe her own words "Strippin' Ain't Easy." I ended up keeping in touch with mama for 3 years with letters after I met Marcus. He pursuaded me to do so. I didn't want to but he said that I was wrong. I told her about my life out in the "City Of Angels" and she told me about her love journey with Jeremy. Finally, I got up the nerve and I paid for her to come out to meet her g- children, Virginia and Marcus Jr. I named Virginia after my mama because I loved her with the same love. When mama got here I couldn't get her off from around me. She said she was making up for lost time. So, I ended up pursuading Marcus to buy the love birds a house in Berverly Hills also. Now, we can't stay off from each other. We go shoppin, eatin', everwhere together. She is my best friend. This story is dedicated to Monique and all the other girls out there like her. I hope you finally realize that the strippin' game ain't easy. It ain't filled with nothin' but drama. Keep yo head up Monique wherever you are. And remember I'm gon' hold it down for ya. The End.