Saturday, August 23, 2008

A lone star state

If daddy’s little girl has no daddy, then who is she?

It had been nagging her the whole flight. “You should call. . .you should call,” the nag nagged. But she didn’t want to call. Even if she was right, she didn’t know what she would say or how she would comfort him. Especially because of her father and his failing kidneys and his failing heart and how she was afraid that she would someday be in his spot taking calls of comfort. So she did what people do nowadays when they are afraid to speak, she texts. “R u ok?” He texts back, “No”. She texted back some other canned words not sure what to say. She didn’t know if this meant she had passed or not. It didn’t matter. He wasn’t ok. And there was nothing she could do about it. Being in a helpless situation is not a comfortable feeling for a control freak. But knowing this wasn’t about her, she plowed on with her day.

The week was full of working and driving and watching the Olympics. It was also full of boredom and rain and forced introspection. She checked the internet a couple of days later. She sees something that lets her know she is gone. She wonders how he is doing. Then decides that is stupid to wonder. How do you think he is doing? The nag nagged again. She texts, “I’m thinking of u.” and goes on to work. That was only partly true, she was thinking of him and how she wanted to hug him and nuzzle him and tell him it will be ok, even though she knew it would not be. But she also was thinking of her father and what she would do. She knew exactly. Get in the bed, curl up in a ball, and drink until she couldn’t feel a thing. The thought of that scared her. Maybe she wouldn’t. Who would take care of the boys? Then she felt a sense of relief that maybe she would be strong enough for them. But still the feeling nagged.

It persisted into Wednesday. She thought it was work stuff. It was hard being away the week before school starts. Not to mention getting her own children ready. School supplies, uniform pants, big boy underwear. So much to do. She called into work a couple times and shared with a coworker the feeling she couldn’t shake. She told her everything was fine at work and she should relax. But still the feeling nagged.

The next morning while reaching out of the shower to close the door, she fell. Hard. While sitting in the tub, trying to catch her breath, a thought came to her. If I would have bumped my head and passed out, no one would know. I am here alone. That’s when the tears came. She hated crying. She roughly rubbed her eyes, got up, got dressed and went to work. Midway through the pain the dull ache in her side grew as well as a grapefruit size bruise on the left side of her torso. She decided to be safe not sorry and went to the hospital. After 5 hours, 3 xrays, and 1 cat scan, the diagnosis: You are bruised inside and out. Thanks for that. She chose not to linger on the irony.

That night she was recounting the story about how she fell to her sister. She was complaining how she was in the hospital and no one would answer their phone. Her sister said, “Well you know we were dealing with stuff.” What stuff she wondered. Then her sister nonchalantly said that their dad had to go into the hospital. He was so swollen they couldn’t even use the shunt that had been implanted in his arm for dialysis for all the swelling. Ah so that was the feeling. She didn’t want to find out this way. There should have been some formal phone call. But maybe her family knew that she may curl into a ball and drink until she was numb, and they couldn’t have that happen while she was in Houston. The funeral for his mother was Friday, the day she came home. She exchanged some texts with him and she marveled how he worked earlier that day. He said it was good to keep busy. Yeah, that makes sense. She was glad that he had something to do that for him. She was sad to think of him at her funeral. She was sad to think of her father being in the hospital without her there. She was sadder to think that she would have to go see him. She didn’t want to. She got on the plane, did some much needed work, and looked out the window as she waited to land.

Her best friend picked her up. Her best friend, her boyfriend, and her dog. The whole crew to carry her back to her house. She didn’t tell her about her dad. She still didn’t want to talk about it. So she came home, checked for mice, mixed up a cocktail. She called her sister. They talked. She drank. They all were going to the hospital the next day. And by all it included her. She mixed a few more cocktails, curled up into a ball, and went to sleep.

Monday, August 18, 2008


This man is going be trouble
I do not want any trouble
I do not love him
I'm not sure I like him
But I can tell
That he will be, could just be,
This man might mean trouble
For me

He was in my house
in my space
in my bed
between my legs
and then I thought
about the next time
Thats when I knew that he meant trouble
Big trouble for me

I do not love him
I barely like him
But I can tell

He was at my table
talking to me
laughing with me
drinking with me
asking me about me
But I won't tell him
"What you see is what you get"
I told him
Because I could see
that he was trying to make trouble
more trouble for me

I do not love him
I like him just a little
We are just friends
But I can tell
that trouble, scary trouble
is on the way

I want him to come again
eat maybe
drink probably
talk definitely
provide distractions: a movie? perhaps
But just that I am planning a next time
Proves that this man
means nothing but trouble
for me

I miss his face
I look forward to his words
And have become dependent on his company
And I don't even like him
Yes, I'm in trouble
Deep, deep trouble
He is causing all sorts of trouble
for me.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Winter 1948


Winter 1948

He’s not coming.

The thought was colder than the February air that was numbing her fingers. Gloria’s eyes stayed transfixed to the bend in the road from where he should have been traveling three hours ago. She began to worry about his safety. It wasn’t safe for any coloreds to travel down that part of town this late in the evening. Not even a foreign one. It always seemed strange to Gloria that white people owned everything, even the roads, the dirt. It was impossible to even exist and begin your own life, love who you choose without their approval.

She couldn’t even bring herself to walk into the house to warm up. As if her presence on that porch on that chair was enough to will him to her. As if all he needed was her eyes transfixed on the road as his beacon to this place.
“Come inside, girl. You’re going to freeze to death.”
Yes, freeze to death. That is what would happen. Either he would come or she would die and she would be frozen.

Little by little her worry turned to despair. The reason behind his absence didn’t matter. The plans they had made would be of no use. The Spanish she learned, the job leads in Philly, the English accent he’d perfected, all useless without him.
“Don’t worry,” he’d told her. I will come for you and we will be together. We can be a family and I will take care of you. Just wait for me.”

She wondered if his family figured out his plans. They hated her. They hated the fact she was a negro. They hated the fact that she had no father. They hated the fact that of all the Mexican girls that had migrated with them or they had left in New Orleans, he chose a nigger girl with no family or culture to speak of.
It didn’t matter. Even if he had never loved her, even if it had all been a lie, even if he was lying hurt in a ditch on his way to her, the result was the same.

He’s not coming.

And so after four hours and 26 minutes on her porch in the dead of winter, she died. She waited until every feeling, organ, and piece of hope was frozen. And when that was done, she got up, gathered her things, and walked back into the house.
She was dead, every piece of her. Every piece except the one growing inside her fifteen year old belly.