Saturday, March 22, 2008

"Good Night, sleep tight" said my mother. The man sheepishly nodded and backed away. I closed my eyes just long enough to hear the door of the only legitimate bedroom close behind them. As the door swung closed my eye lids fled apart. It was dark, but my eyes adjusted quickly. We were on the second, and top, floor and above the streetlight that bathed the parking lot in light. Though just enough light worked its way through and around the thick nicotine dyed drapes as to make it possible for me to see my toes. They were long. I wiggled them almost as a chore. Two were crooked because they had already been broken. My long feet and long toes along with my unremitting plague of day dreamery had given me the reputation of being clumsy. I did trip a lot and stumble into walls or doorways often but not purely out of clumsiness but more my inability to pay attention to much of anything except what was going on in my own damn head.

I wiggled my toes again. Someone walked by the window my couch was pressed up under. Their shadow skimmed itself under the drapes seemingly too slow. My heart fell into my toes. Did he find us? My breath stopped. I think my heart did too. I felt that any sound I made even if it was necessary to my survival, would confirm that he had indeed found the place where we were hiding.

I came upon the understanding that this had been going on in my head for a few moments longer that it would take my father to burst into my newest safest place. I checked again the placement of the shadow. It was swinging side to side. I managed enough terrified gumption to peek between the drapes. There before me stood a young black woman. She was big in all the areas I feared I never would be. She stood with all her well distributed weight on one leg. The other cocked out making a wide tee position with her feet if you connected the space in between them. Her shorts were cut off light denim. Guess. I recognized the logo from one of my mother's pants. The pockets were sticking out of the bottom and were painted to her thighs. A maroon tank top hung from her shoulders. The straps looking as though they would fall off if a bird breathed on them.

She was barefoot. I couldn't figure why. I noticed on her feet a lot of small darkened marks. Just then she tapped a lighter, that seemed to just appear in her hand, against the railing. A few flecks of paint fell from the rail.

I heard rustling and yelling next door. I could make out the an irritated "Coming!!" but not much more. A man, who i gathered was my now neighbor, appeared in front of the well trunked black woman. No words were said. He produced from his pocket a baggy, with what looked like pure white ash, a water bottle cap and a syringe. Even from where I was spying I could see that the needle of the syringe was badly bent.

The woman smiled in a way I had never seen a woman smile before. Her face may as well have been blank because I had no reference for what this sort of smile meant. Grabbing the baggy open with one hand she dipped the water bottle cap into it with the other. Then, spit into the cap on top of the ash she had lifted from the baggy. I became disgusted and intrigued at once. Swishing the cap slightly and carefully. At first glance this woman had not struck me as particularly careful, I had obviously assumed wrong. She grasped the needle and slowly stuck its severely bent tip into this new mixture. In my mind I thought of it as a potion! She filled the syringe half way up and handed the cap, still carefully, to the waiting man.

She bent down, I thought to pick something up. Instead she flicked her pocked foot the way I remembered flicking lint off my dress when I had been bored at church. Which always made me feel guilty. Boredom and guilty had somehow aligned themselves already in my idea of the word and what was expected. Then, to my surprise, amazement, confusion and sinister delight, plunged the needle into one of the dark spots on her foot. The foot that was still not holding her weight. I lost interest in the needle and focused more on the foot. Her feet were wide and plump and her toes looked short and stubby in comparison. All this, still, in a good way. I envied, at least the size and shape, of her feet.

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