Congratulations to Angela Daniels, the winner of the DFWCon #OwnVoices Scholarship Essay Contest! Angela was chosen from a field of strong writers with compelling writing samples and will receive free admission to this year’s conference.
Here’s what Angela had to say about why she writes: “Writing sustains me. When I don’t know what to say, when I don’t know what to feel, when I don’t know where to begin, I am writing. When you know my writing, you know who I wish to be, who I was, and who I am. I am an #ownvoices writer because writing is my voice when I feel stuck and unheard. Writing is my voice when there is no clear answer and I want to create a better future.”
Thanks to literary agent Serene Hakim for choosing our winner!
Here’s Angela’s entry, a sample from a fictional piece, “Love, Child.”
There must be something magic about the age of four. I became a social worker because I know what it’s like to be unwanted, to be misused, to be misunderstood, and to be left alone. To be the thorns on a rose, the one piece that no one wants and then cut away. Discarded. I remember the day that my mother left me. I remember her fussing and cussing as we trekked down the street to the grocery store. She fussed the whole way, shooting compilations of cusses into the wind that I had never heard before. Daddy had the car, and Momma was pissed. There was no food in the house and daddy was out in the streets yet again. The afternoon sun beat against us like we owed him money and my sweat would repay it. A million dollars worth of sweat dripped and pooled around my collar.
The automatic grocery store door popped open. Thankful, I rushed in as the cool air gushed out.
Momma grabbed a cart and the festivities began.
“Get on my last damn nerve. Ain’t neva around when I need him.” She started speaking to no one in particular. I listened and stayed quiet.
“I’m sick of this mess. I’m tired.” Momma kept mumbling in repetition while we walked down each aisle.
I noticed that we were not looking for food, so I began to play a numbers game in my mind. One. She didn’t put one item in the cart. It was empty. Two. Momma’s mumbling got louder on the second trip through each aisle. Still no groceries in the cart. Three. A woman and her two children moved hurriedly away from us. Four. By our fourth trip through the fifteen grocery aisles and momma’s mumbles now growing into yells, the clerks began to notice. Five aisles in the front of the store were positioned vertically, not horizontally like the others. We walked through those too. Trip number six, a manager slowly approached momma and asked her to leave the store. Momma kept walking like she didn’t hear him.
Momma strung along seven curse words to describe my daddy on the aisle. Trip eight, the police asked her to leave the premises.
Momma made a hard left onto aisle nine on trip number ten.
” I’m sick of your shit. You need to keep yo ass in this house.” she yelled.
I just kept walking behind her, counting in my head.
“I’m tired of this little nappy-headed girl. I didn’t even want to have this damn baby.” Her right hand flew up in the air for emphasis. “But no, you ain’t want me to get an abortion. I had her, and you gone.”
Momma laughed loudly.
A big corn-fed vanilla cop stepped in front of her cart. The other got behind me.
“Mam. I am asking you to leave. Now.” The police officer said with authority.
Momma stopped the cart. Finally i thought that she might comply. When a deep laugh rolled out from her gut and she threw her head back, I knew that nothing good would happen.
“You want me to leave Curtis?” She yelled at the cop, who looked nothing like my brown skinned father. “I ain’t going no where. Is you crazy boy?”
“Mam. You need to leave now.” The officer said again. I watched his arm move back like it was being tugged by a string. He rested his hand on the gun at his waist.
Momma’s smile fell to the floor as she belted out a banshee-style scream and sent the metal cart hurling at the cop.
“No!!” she yelled when the cop behind me stepped up and took her by the arm. He attempted to handcuff my momma, but little petite Mosel James became a bucking bronco.
I tried to go to her. I wanted to understand her. Understand why she was screaming, why all the people were crowding around us. I needed to know why she was crying. I needed to know why the tears wouldn’t leave my eyes, why her sadness was seeping into me. I needed her to love me, to hold me, to say that she wanted me. To say she wouldn’t be crazy anymore. I needed her to be there.
” Momma.” I yelled, as both cops began to drag her away. I ran behind them. ” Momma! Stop, just be quiet. Just be quiet, momma. Don’t make them hurt you” I had yelled the very same thing to her the night before, when my daddy barreled his fists across her body. I had yelled the very same thing the night before the night before when my daddy made the wind sing with the slap he placed across her face. I had yelled the very same thing for a very long time. My voice was weak. No one heard me, no one cared. Pieces of my heart escaped through the trickle from my eyes.
I sat at the police station through a whole 10-hour shift waiting for my daddy to come get me.
He got me out of foster care two months later.