Read an Excerpt
Not every bitch is a queen. Most chicks are just regular. Most of them know it and accept it, as long as nobody points it out. A queen is authentic, not because she says so, just because she is. A queen doesn’t have to say nothing. Everybody can see it, and feel it, too.
A bunch of bootleg girls been try’na come up. That’s what they supposed to try and do. But their borrowed, stolen style sucks cause it’s borrowed and stolen. A queen knows who she is, inside and out. She wouldn’t imitate anybody else. In fact, she creates original styles, waits for the bootleg bitches to catch on and copy, then switches, making their heads spin, eyes roll, and their short money pile disappear.
I’ma tell you what I hate first. Then Im’ma tell you what I love. Every word that I say is straight, cause I don’t have no time to play with you. The majority of my time is spent stacking my status and plotting to get back my stuff.
I hate conceited girls. They’re played out. You may think that I’m one of them, but there’s a difference between conceit and quality, or should I say conceit and truth. Matter of fact, some of the ugliest females I know are conceited. We living at a point where this shit is all mixed up on purpose. The ugly ones pretend they look good, when everything they got is cheap and fake, including their personalities. The pretty ones play themselves down, cause jealousy is more realer than the air we suck in and blow back out. I, Porsche L. Santiaga, am a real, real pretty bitch. I try my best to stay in my lane and mind my own business, to keep all the envious ones from talking shit, mobbing up and jumping me.
It isn’t easy being the sister of a queen. Naturally, I look up to her. But still, I gotta be me. Imitation gets no respect. I would never live my life trying to look like or be someone else. Regarding my sister, Winter Santiaga, every day for eight years I had my big brown eyes trained on her. She’s a queen, not because she’s beautiful, which is automatic, not because she’s a badass, with endless styles and personality, not because she’s my older sister, my mother’s best friend, and my father’s most loved jewel. None of those are the reasons.
Ricky Santiaga has four daughters. His firstborn, Winter, seemed to have occupied his whole heart. My handsome father was not to blame. Everyone loved her. When she was in a crowded room, everyone was looking her way or trying to stand or sit right beside her. Even in our home she soaked up all the love, as though she were the only child. But she wasn’t the only child.
Me, I’m the “middle daughter.” Maybe you know a little something about how that goes. Everyone’s eyes were either on the oldest daughter, because her young figure was ripe and ready, her eyes so mischievous, and her face so feminine and perfect that they were all scared she might get pregnant. Or, their eyes would be on the youngest, because they are the babies and they might get hurt.
The middle girl is too young to be fucking and too old to be falling down. So everyone forgets where she is and what she’s doing. I got mixed feelings about being invisible. There are benefits. I can’t lie. But sometimes, quietly, I was yearning for Poppa and Momma to pay more attention to me simply because their love for me was as true and as strong as my love for each of them. I didn’t want to have to beg them for love. I didn’t like the idea of having to be annoying to get attention or having to make a dramatic or phony scene. I hate pretense.
Winter was a queen in my younger eyes because she didn’t have to ask for love, but she was always receiving it. When she did receive it, no one cared if she returned it. They loved her whether she loved them or not. She didn’t seek attention. She commanded it. Winter had the best of everything without working or obeying. Her friends, who were coming and calling constantly, surrounded my sister. Even my young friends wanted to grow up to be Winter. My old aunties wish they could be young again only to try to look and live like Winter.
More than that, in my younger eyes, Winter was above pain and punishment and mostly no one else in the world can claim that. In the chaos of any crisis she walked in looking good, stylish, clean, and untouched. She’d shift her pretty eyes right and then to the left and come up with the swiftest plan, which only she knew the details of.
I was home when they arrested my father. Winter wasn’t. I was left at home when they arrested my mother. Winter wasn’t. I was home when the kidnappers, “social services,” snatched up me, Lexy, and Mercedes. Winter wasn’t. We three sisters were separated and trapped in the system. Winter wasn’t.
In fact, Winter and Momma came to check me one time at a “state-supervised visit,” where I was being held and watched over by the kidnappers. When they walked in, my beautiful momma’s head was shaved bald. Shocked for some seconds, I still wanted to hug her and have her hug me back tight enough to signal to me silently that she knew that this shit was all wrong. That she would take me back home with her.
Momma’s eyes were filled with rage and sorrow. Winter looked rich. She was sparkling and free, like she had a thousand little light-bulbs outlining her entire body. Her caramel-colored skin was glowing. Her hair was fresh, soft, long, and second only to her pretty face. She looked unbreakable, untouched, and unaffected. Then it was confirmed in my eyes on that exact day, that Winter was straight royalty, above everyone else who suffered on a regular, including now my momma and me. That so-called visit was the first time I saw my mother and sister after being tooken, and the last time I saw both of them together ever again.
I miss Momma so much I ache, like when you have vomited to the end and there’s nothing else to throw up. Only a thick yellow fluid comes out, that one nurse said is called bile. Have you ever been in the emergency room strapped to a bed, screaming out “Momma” 156 times, “Poppa” seventy-seven times, and “I want to go home” thirty-three times?
As for Poppa, six one, light-skinned, strong, and suave with not even a teaspoon of bitch in him, no man on earth is better than him. Momma is like a cup of hot chocolate on a freezing morning. Poppa is like a cup of black tea with a whole lot of heavy cream mixed in. Dark and light, they complemented one another.
Winter was the best parts of both of them, all in one. I love her, and fuck anybody else who doesn’t, no matter his or her reason.
Listen when I tell you, I am 100 percent loyalty. If you can count, you’d know that there’s nothing left over from that.
Unique, I know I’m different from her, but we sisters. We’re full blood related. So I’m royal. I inherited these looks. Like Winter and Momma, my beauty is undeniable, captivating, and offensive to many. No, I’m not light-skinned. Stop that silly shit, as if there is only one shade to be deeply admired. I’m honey-brown like an expensive Godiva that can only be purchased in a specialty shop. My brown-gold eyes are outlined with a thin black line that circles around the pupil, like an exotic bird. When people first notice them, they pause and look again.
Every day I fight. Not because of anything I did, just because of who I am naturally. I fight young angry bitches cause they wish they had these same eyes and can’t get comfortable until they poke mines out. My skin is flawless like satin, or an unaffordable diamond. I’m a dancer, not a stuck-up ballerina or a fucking stripper. Back on our Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, block I had an all-girls dance crew. We used to rock. We even won first place at our block party over some girls that was older than us. People were amazed at how our young bodies could bend and move, flow, bounce, and shake like we knew shit we couldn’t possibly have known, and experienced shit that none of us had experienced yet. We tore it up, moving to a Rob Base throwback titled “It Takes Two.” That night, Momma placed her hands on my hips and said I would grow up to be her “moneymaker.” I liked the feeling that I was doing something that made Momma look my way for more than a few moments, and believe in me.
My hair is black. It grew from my own scalp and lays on my back. Momma says it’s long because I’m loved. She says, “Other bitches don’t know or don’t want to keep their daughter’s hair clean, oiled, combed, conditioned, and clipped.” Back then Momma would say, “If you see a bald bitch she’s unloved. Or, she cut her hair off because she don’t want to be loved. Or, she cut it off because she ran up on some rotten love.”
Me, I know mine is real nice, but I don’t worship my hair. I keep it neat and never throw it in nobody’s face. Apparently that ain’t enough. In a two-year stretch, I had seventeen fights. Nine of them were brawls over hair, with half-bald bitches with homemade weapons. I fought a conceited ugly girl named Cha-Cha four out of the nine hair fights. In arts ’n crafts class, I grabbed the one pair of scissors shared by twenty girls and chained to the desktop, and cut off my hair and gave it to her, so she could stop fucking sweating me. She wore my hair braided into single box braids on her head the next day.
I didn’t say anything to her. I had gotten comfortable with my short cut overnight. Then she got mad cause I wasn’t mad. So she fought me again. The authorities, that’s what we call them, they locked me up in isolation for fighting. Every time they act like they don’t know what the fight is all about. Every time they act like we fifty/fifty involved in the fight when they know damn well that chick hates herself and is gonna fight till somebody kills her and puts her out of misery.
Even with my wrists locked and my ankles chained, headed to isolation, I don’t react. They release me into that little space butt-naked. Then I dance. Repetition makes my legs beautiful, strong, and tight. I don’t eat, so I don’t have no body fat. I taught myself to accept hunger, cause people try to use it against you when they think they got something you really need, even if it’s only a sandwich. I dance until I’m drenched. The music plays in my head, sounding crisp like it did back in Brooklyn. I stop when I collapse. Then, I wake up in another wing with a tube in my arm and a bad-breath nurse faking concern and whispering something like, “You could’ve died last night.” I close my eyes and wish I had enough fluids in my mouth to spit on her, just to clear my throat.
When they would bring me back into the population mix with the rest of the bitches, 522 of them to be exact, I’d see most of the girls from my section gasp like they seen a ghost. I know certain ones of them won’t be happy until they slit my perfect skin open, or at least put a permanent stamp on it. That’s why I plot.
In one of the monthly head sessions they make us have, one of my enemies told the therapist that she fights me because I think I’m better. I told her she fights me because she thinks I’m better. These regular bitches don’t get it. It’s not my hair or eyes or legs or none of that bullshit that makes me who I am, plain and simple. It’s that I’m Porsche L. Santiaga, born rich. My daddy was rich. My momma was rich. My sisters were rich. I’m not gonna act like a regular bitch when I was born royal. They never had nothing, so they don’t know no better. They got nothing to miss. I had a queen-sized bed when I was seven years old. Even before then, back in Brooklyn at my sister’s sixteenth birthday celebration at Moe’s, in the dead of the winter season, my whole family was styling. I rocked a three-quarter mink, and mink earmuffs, and a mink muffler instead of gloves.
I have a mother who taught me the difference between everything cheap and high quality. I had three sisters, all dimes living swolled in a beautiful Long Island palace. The last thing my poppa promised me was a pony so I could trot around our property. It’s the police who are the criminals, kidnappers, and thieves. The authorities know the deal, they all in it together.
That’s why I jammed the sharpened number two pencil in my caseworker’s neck as she was driving me in her state-owned vehicle. She tried to say something slick about my family, about Winter in particular. I don’t play that shit. “Family sticks together.”
If a bitch believed she could say something rude about a Santiaga out loud and in my face, I obviously wasn’t on my J.O.B.
Now I don’t know if I was trying to kill her. I just wanted the bitch to pay attention to what I had been telling her for many months. I am Porsche L. Santiaga, sister to Winter Santiaga, the twins, Lexus and Mercedes Santiaga. Brooklyn-born, we chill now in a Long Island mansion. Stop driving me around and dropping me off to the broke, broken, perverted, ugly-ass, foster-care providers and introducing me to strangers who wanna pretend to be my parents. I don’t pretend at nothing. I don’t like fake shit. Take me home. I have a house and a family. I told her clearly in a respectful tone. I recited to her my exact Long Island address.
“You shouldn’t look up to a girl like Winter, even though she is your real sister,” the bitch said one autumn morning when I was seated and trapped in the back seat of her state vehicle, where I had been seated and trapped many times. She must of felt good and big about herself with her files filled up with dirty talk about my real life, and her folded newspaper that must have reported some lies that she decided to believe. So, she started saying something foul.
“Winter,” my caseworker said, referring to my well-loved sister . . . .
My caseworker is paralyzed now. So she got a lot of time to sit still and think about all the lies she been telling little kids, about taking them to live in a better place, in better circumstances. She knew what the fuck was up. She’d say and do anything, no matter how evil it was as long as they paid her to do it. She’d drop me off anywhere, including hell, and leave me with anyone including the motherfucking devil, even if she knew for sure I was in serious danger. As long as that was the address printed on her paper, she’d leave me without looking back. So they got me locked up in juvy. It’s better than playing house. Everything is clear in here, the way I prefer things to be. No one is pretending to love me, or the rest of us. We damn sure ain’t pretending to love them or each other either. In here, there’s only friends and enemies, no in-between.