Writer in Residence · 06/16/2010

Ready

Candy’s fingers streak along the tiles in a pattern that matches her jagged wails and acicular sobs. “Please be strong,” she whispers to the dirty squares, her face paper close. “For us…”

Her fingers trace familiar angles; thin lightning veins – a miniature electrical storm in the floor.

She counts cracks.

Fourteen. Still.

She knows the cracks will remain at fourteen; they have been this number for weeks. Yet her mind sways her with ideas that grip with a choke hold. They strangle any moments of rationality that might be fighting for air.

They’re getting longer.

Wider.

Spindling while you slumber.

She knows she can’t stay awake indefinitely. She has tried.

A loud breaking: the splintering of a thousand bones, then a buckling and that’s when they all go down – the refrigerator leading the way. Impaled, bleeding, broken.

She cannot shake this.

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Balloons. Birds. Their feathers. Strewn hairs. Daddy Long Legs. Sweat. Whispers. Weeds. Worry. A mantra, a prayer or perhaps an antidote, Candy’s lightest thoughts fill at the heaviest times.

Like when the darkness is at its tangible thickest.

The darkness crushes her to the mattress. The mattress threatens its weight against the floor. The floor won’t stop its taunting to give way. It laughs. She can hear it.

Her boy tosses restless in the sheets, her skin.

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Milk gallons dripping sweat on the stoop. Overripe cantaloupes. A jar of pickles. A case of Pepsi. 24 ounces of dish detergent.

“Mom…are we ever gonna bring in the groceries?” Her son taps his foot at the open door.

Candy winces and grits her teeth on what she wants to say and instead offers,
“Later…”

The part of her that balances a checkbook, goes to church and holds down a job knows that if she brings the groceries into the kitchen she can put them away without tragedy.

But the part of her that is crippling her says otherwise.

Her fingers grip the couch cushions as if they were parachutes. Ready.

xTx is a writer living in Southern California. You can find her writing in places like Monkeybicycle, Smokelong, decomP, elimae, Dogzplot and >Kill Author. She has a free e-book entitled, “Nobody Trusts a Black Magician” available at nonpress. She says nothing at www.notimetosayit.com.

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posted by Roxane Gay