NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2013 - Page 157

“I wanted to like your story so much, Kwame,” she whispered, eyes caressing his face. “I’m sorry…I just didn’t.” Flashback! Kwame saw himself spread-eagled on the floor of a Chicago newsroom—guts ripped out and left for dead—betrayed by good ole Dan, the one person he’d been stupid enough to trust with his life, his career, with everything he’d worked for. No, not again! Not Anyika! “I tried to like it Kwame...I really did….” Her words fell on him like daggers lacerating an old wound. Abruptly, she moved to the edge of her chair as one hand groped for the strap of her basket, her eyes fixed on his face.“Anyway…I don’t think this is a good time to talk about it,” she said softly. “We can always do it another time...if you still want to.” Her hands stopped short of the basket. She drew them back into her lap. She pressed out a wrinkle in her bright tie-dyed print. “You know, we really don’t have to talk about it at all if you don’t want to Kwame,” she said, glancing furtively at his face which had tightened into a dark opaque mask. “I’m sorry, Kwame,” she said, her hand curled round the handle of her basket as she rose to go. “Kwa-heri!” she sang a sweet goodbye as she headed for the door. “What didn’t you like about it?” The brass in his voice arrested her. She turned to look at him. BRN-FALL-2013.indb 155 “What didn’t you like about my story, Anyika? I want to know—whatever it is—I want to know, okay?” His voice was flat, cold. She marched obediently back to her chair and sat down. “Oh, wow!” she said, shaking her head. “I guess I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for. I had no idea that this would be so… heavy.” She toyed with her wedding ring, a golden pyramid, deliberately avoiding his eyes. She was struggling to recoup the veil of New York sophistication that she’d carelessly let slip away since migrating to East Africa. She cast furtive glances at him, her face sober as she twisted the ring slowly round on her finger. “Kwame, I like your style a lot,” she began. “I hear a lot of music in it. And I really love your adjectives—a lot,” she braved a smile which fizzled in the face of his stone stare. “I know that must sound like a small thing to you, but it’s not. It means that...” “What didn’t you like about my story, Anyika?” Kwame interrupted. She sat up startled. “I’m going to get to that,” she said softly. “But I have to do this the only way I know how, okay?” She was silent for a moment. “I liked one of your characters a lot—the old woman—yes, the grandmother. I could see her. No! I could feel her…I know her,” she nodded. Suddenly, her face tensed up. “The white guy in the story, well…he was real white. He almost walked off the page at me. But that’s all I got from him, and it…it just wasn’t enough,” she laughed nervously. “But your adjectives…!” She looked at him as if she actually was about to nominate him for a Pulitzer. “Your descriptions in certain places are fantastic. The way you captured the moon hanging down over the children playing in the cane field, the games they were playing, even the clapboard houses and the weeping willows. The southern night came alive for me.” She had become animated now, her hands attempting to pantomime the rush of feelings. “Kwame, I know that’s where your real beauty as an artist…” The rude squawk of Kwame’s chair punctuated her sentence as he lunged forward gripping the butt of a letter opener—a carved Masai spear—with which he soundly rapped the desktop. BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE She drew back suddenly. She had never seen him like this—sweet, gentle Kwame. “I mean…that’s it…? You didn’t like my story! Are you serious?” He flung at her, eyes searching her face. Maybe she was only teasing he hoped desperately—and instantly he began to sprout a small, hopeful smile. “Well...” she attempted a smile, “I really don’t think I should say anymore, Kwame. I mean...I’ve only been writing a few years myself...what do I know?” she shrugged. “I was lucky. My husband knew someone and a few of my poems got published. I was offered a book contract. Big deal! I just wouldn’t feel right trying to evaluate your work,” she said with a wave of her hand. 155 “Just what the hell are you saying?” Kwame gaped at Anyika. 9/13/13 12:48 AM