by Malon Edwards
This story was originally published in Underground Voices, November 2005.
Interestingly enough, the world doesn’t warp for me in June, July and August. The shimmering, dancing vortices of heat obscure the flick of her sun-sheened, ebony ponytail as she turns away from me. If it’s late September, she allows me only to glimpse how brown her forearms have gotten during the summer because she knows I want to stroke them and feel their fine black down. If it’s early December, she laughs in my ears when I’m dreaming because she knows I’m too afraid to peel back the world and chase her through the worn, brown-patched sickly green fields mined with dogshit.
When I was in middle school, I was sure if I peeled back the blurred edges of the world and stepped into the expansive fields to search for her I’d get lost. Lucky for me then I was more chickenshit than Curious George. Now that I’m married with a seven year old daughter, I gaze indirectly more and more at the muzzled world most people can’t see. Good thing I’m more faithful husband than libidinous prick because her forearms get lovelier each August.
Anisa was the girl I was too frightened to kiss on a heat-wavy July afternoon in my parents’ garage. She was the girl all the other girls envied because of her St. Thomas skin, she was the girl all the boys wanted because of her St. Thomas tongue, and she was the girl her crazy St. Thomas-patois-mumbling father raped and murdered one night because a bottle of Jack Daniels made him believe his daughter’s room was the room of a Cherry Lane Motel whore.
The world warped for me long before Anisa died, though. I remember watching Transformers after school at my god brother’s house on the south side of Chicago near the decayed steel mills and trying not to look at the scribble-drawn, gray-hazed cat things flit back and forth across the undulating demarcation lines. If I happened to be alone when I saw them, I would chase the cat things to the edge of this world and no further, ignoring their slit-eyed mewls of what couldn’t be anything but mocking laughter.
Soon after Anisa died, I was more likely to see her brown forearms than the twitch of murky shapes I thought to be curved cat tails. More recently, however, Anisa has taken to whispering angry things to the darkness just before I drooled sharp, sleep-scented effluvium into my pillow–things which let me know she has just watched my wife and me breathe, touch and taste one another.
If it wasn’t June, July or August, and if I didn’t peer through the darkness of my bedroom to see exactly where the world warped, Anisa would follow me into my dreams and do things to me which made me question my fidelity to my wife and the possibility of a world behind this one.
But then last summer Curious George got the best of me, and so on a Friday night in February when my wife was on a ski trip in Aspen with three of her closest girlfriends since third grade and my daughter was at a sleepover with three of her best friends since the week before, I peeled back the world and stepped into dogshit.
Anisa allowed me, for a long moment or two, a glimpse of her not-so-brown-but-now-golden skin, her long, not-so-brown-but-now-golden legs and her lustrous fourth-vertebra-length ponytail before she rewarded me with the kiss I’ve wanted and dreamed the past twenty-five years.
And then, without a word (or even that erection-inducing laugh of hers), but with a flip of her hair not unlike that of a gazelle’s tail, she dashed away on those wonderfully long legs of hers and bounded over the dogshit marinating in sunshine too warm to be from a February sun.
I was apparently supposed to chase after her, and so I did, slipping and falling in dogshit. At three bounds, her laughter floated over her left shoulder; at eight bounds her golden skin was tinged indigo and she was camouflaged against the horizon.
It took me much longer than I liked (as I stood there with the sun hanging low, pregnant and orange) before I realized this world didn’t shimmer, dance and blur like my world. So, I did the only thing I could have done in that situation—I wiped shit that wasn’t mine off my ass and hoped the horizon wouldn’t run from me as I ran to it.More stories like this by topic: African-American authors, Authors of color, Black authors, Characters of color