Rialto Bridge – Grand Canal I wear a sweater and put my mother’s passport picture in the back pocket of my jeans. I do not take anything else. Beauty says I should start learning to wear sexy clothes, if I want to attract good customers later. “Beauty, I am not here to sell my body, I am here to go to a nursing school,” I stop and stare at her so she understands me well. We walk down a long stony street. At a side pavement a man is drawing Jesus on the cross. I do a sign of the cross. The weather is warm and many people are walking the streets with light clothes, but I am cold. We cross a small fruit shop and Beauty buys apples and gives me one. I am about to bite into the apple, but I see Matron’s face on it. I throw it away and Beauty starts laughing, thinking I don’t know how to eat an apple. “I want to see a beach,” I tell Beauty. “The nearest beach is too far from here we cannot walk to it, but let’s go through Rialto Bridge to the Grand Canal, you can see the water from there and also the Rialto Market where they sell good jewelry and leather bags.” The bridge is made of shiny white marbles that reflect like mirrors and there are big pillars on both sides. Where we walk it is high and below it there are small boats sailing from one end to the other. I remember Ipoba River Bridge that I crossed the day I went for my oath, though not this high nor this beautiful. “Those small boats you see below are called Gondolas,” Beauty’s voice sounds far away. We are in the middle of the bridge and I get close to the edge where a large banner hangs from the pillars. I stop to look at a red gondola; two men and a woman are paddling it. Beauty asks if I like the water and puts her hand on my shoulder. “Yes, I like it, it is cleaner than Ipoba river.” I keep looking at the gondola coming closer. I can see the faces of the people inside it now. Prince and Ohenlen are paddling. Matron sits in the back, she has a stethoscope round her neck and she is wearing a nurse’s white uniform. Now I remove Beauty’s hand from my shoulder and decide to tell Matron and Prince that I will never sell my body for them in Italy. And I jump. n BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE “Beauty stop crying, let’s go out and walk around. Is there a beach around here? Or else let’s just keep walking,” I tell her forcefully. “Ok o. Let’s go sha, we will not take a bus because sometimes police raid buses and you don’t have proper papers yet.” 15 Uyi comes home early today with shopping bags full of food stuff and fruits. I don’t say much other than welcome. My eyes are red and she goes straight to Beauty’s room and I hear her screaming and cursing. I go to the bathroom and close the door and start vomiting. Uyi enters the bathroom and sees me holding my throat; she says nothing, but slams the door. I wash up and look in the mirror and I see my mother’s face, not angry not smiling. My mother is just staring at me. I run out to Beauty’s room and she is crying again.