AlvernoINK Spring / Fall 2017 - Page 76

“Excuse me, what rules are you talking about?”

Her back stiffened but it only added half an inch to her small stature. Slowly her head turned around. A weary smile spread across her frail thin lips. Her smile was sweet enough but her eyes said I didn’t belong here as they cut back to the floor. I know those eyes. I am not without experience. Being black, I’ve learned not to internalize it. Quickly, I grabbed everything we needed. Her eyes bounced around. She wasn’t even trying to hide it, maybe her old frame kept her from actually following me but it didn’t stop the hole from burning into my skull. She sighed from time to time which picked open a deep wound within my chest with every gust of air that was released.

“Hey baby!” Trey popped in. “Need some help?”

He met me at the counter. I slammed the basket down. I was relieved but still burning.

“How much do I owe you?” He pulled out his wallet as the old woman rang us up.

“That’ll be $34.94.”

Trey handed her the money.

“You people passing through?” she crackled as her eyes darted between us.

“Yeah, we might linger a little bit,” I gritted through my teeth.

Her eyes dropped and her thin lips became even thinner. She handed Trey the crumpled change and shoved me the bags.

“Quick is always best.”

I held my tongue until we got into the car. It took Trey all of ten seconds to calm me down; he had that effect on me.

“Baby! I’m sure she didn’t mean it, you know these country folks don’t see black people that often. You probably took her by surprise.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle. The sweet feeling of joy spilled onto those wounds and they became scars again.

“They only see us in those square boxes with the fat ass,” he laughed. His wide stretched smiled had a way of making me feel safe. He cupped my right cheek in his right hand and planted a kiss on my left cheek. “You’ll be alright baby. You know I have your back.”

“Since childhood.”

Dusk was rapidly approaching.

“We should find a place to park,” I said.

“Yeah, I’m getting tired.”

Up ahead we spotted sparkling lights and as we got closer, cars, tents and a mobile home were scattered between spacious trees.

“Is that a camp ground?”

“I don’t know but it looks like a good place to stay the night,” he turned into an opening and stopped some distance away. “I think we should introduce ourselves?”

I stared into his eyes for a few moments considering our options. The distant pain from the grocery store was swirling in my chest. I don’t think I could take any more if these people were the same way. I looked over at the group. However, we should announce ourselves so we can alleviate suspicion. We are intruding on them.

“Your silence tells me you want to wait.”

A smile formed on my face as my eyes drifted back into his. He leaned in closer. “How about we uh-”

“Nuh-uh.”

“Those people aren’t going to see us.”

I shook my head.

He shrugged it off. “What did you buy for dinner?”

“We can have sandwiches, I bought ham and cheese, your favorite just without the bacon and ranch.”

After dinner I grabbed the quilt from the back, we reclined our seats and while the heat blew on us he ran his fingers through my hair.

“You know, we really deserve this trip. I know things haven’t been easy and -I love you and will do anything for you. We’re in this together.” His big, round, full lips left a warm impression on my forehead.

Trey was the first to fall asleep, like always, I usually stayed up pondering but today was very exhausting that I fell asleep right after him. Sometime later I awoke. I turned off the heat and midway from lying back down rapid movement caught my curiosity. There were two men hunched over a fainting fire eagerly whispering. They kept stopping to raise their heads to look around. It was clear to me they were having a disagreement. The tall red headed man shot up in frustration and stomped into the mobile home leaving the blond haired man to sit before the growing ashes. Eyes stinging, I laid back down slightly alarmed. The night did not go smoothly for me, it seemed like every twenty minutes or so I was jolted out of my slumber because the branches on the tree next to me kept cracking. It always seem to be in the same area. Annoyed, I figured it must be the owls. I was hoping the branch would just snap off. Why did they have to be by my window?

The next day, the suns light shot its beams in the corner of my eyes and through my grogginess I crept out of sleep. But what creeped me out was about a dozen people standing in front of our car staring at us with expressions of curiosity, uncertainty and exasperation. I quickly nudged Trey. He didn’t open his eyes but he answered me.

“Tavia,” he moaned.

I nudged him again but harder.

“What?” he croaked.

“You said you wanted to meet the neighbors.”

His eyes fluttered open. “What the hell?”

I pulled the handle on my door but it only opened an inch. A thick branch was lodged in between the door and the tree.

“Crap!” I slammed the door shut and climbed out the driver side behind Trey.

“Hey, what’s going on ya’ll? I’m Trey and this is my girlfriend Tavia,” his huge hand engulfed mine and brought me closer to him. “We got here last night and-”

“When last night? We didn’t see anyone pull in,” a short but well-built man with tan skin and short curly black hair stepped forward. He looked us both up and down.

“Just after it got dark and-”

“How did you get here?” A tall blond woman asked from within the crowd.

tribulations