NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 65

SUMMER Soon as the weather broke, Stella and Tony were the only ones to help me pack what Marlon left behind for me in June: almost everything. Marlon’s sped-off Durango left the garage free and open for my sales. My little balloons and construction paper signs get me much more traffic than I had thought I would. Much more. I can work hardest, now, on keeping my hopes up. It is Stella who collects dollars for paperbacks, five dollars for dishes and picture frames, ten dollars for a mahogany leather photo album, twenty dollars for sealed Grenadan rum. She pulls me from my realtor’s concerns with water spots in the office. She takes me to a surprised customer I vaguely recognize. A round-faced woman beams when I approach. I am lost, until she speaks and I remember her voice and her cries and her tears. But now she smiles. She holds out ten dollars for a set of twelve neatly-boxed, hard-spine Virginia Hamilton picture books. “Well golly I’m just driving by, and…” she laughs. “Oh! You didn’t say you had a daughter,” she says. “Well, now I know why you never had time for the writers group. I was so hoping you’d come. It’s been good!” “I don’t have a daughter.” I grab her money. I roll her purchase as neatly in white tissue paper as I will certainly miss doing for the stems of flowers. “She died.” The woman stands quiet and somber until I finish. I hand her her purchase. “Thank you,” I say. I smile for a sec. She stares at me, as the realtor comes out to the yard to circle my house once more, to make more notes without me. “It’s my fault, really,” I admit. “I was working full-time, in graduate school, running my own sex toy business on weekends, interviewing celebrities, trading stocks. I just didn’t make time to investigate her day care center well enough. An assistant there had a dui past. She was hung over one day and taking a nap. My daughter slipped between the mattress and bars of her crib. She suffocated. I never bothered to sue.” The mourner admires my expert wrapping of her package, turns her attention to and from me. She slips it into her tote bag and pulls out her car keys in one quick move. “Well, like I said, I’m so sorry to hear that,” she sighs. She turns to walk away. “I know,” I say after her. “So am I.” n “Wow, you make me feel miniscule,” she says. “You just seem so, so strong. I cry like a baby, every day, still, over Mum. Nothing solved, yet.” “Oh no,” I tell her. “I used to be just like you. It’ll pass. But my daughter was killed long time ago.” “Killed?” the woman stutters. She gives me that look I remember so well, like all the friends and teachers and students and colleagues and co-workers and even strangers on trains, buses and planes. She asks me: “Well, er…I’m so sorry. Who killed her?” 63 She holds out her arms to hug me. We jiggle into a short embrace. “These books belonged to my daughter,” I say. The realtor is waving me over. Stella is strutting past somebody. The birds in my trees are chirping. The phone is ringing. And it is probably Daddy. He thinks (when I said “I’m coming!”) I mean right now. BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE There is an apartment complex near my father’s senior living community in Boca Raton, as well as a few recommended psychologists who specialize in African-American women and grief. I’ve already contacted them. I have to confess I killed my mother and most likely her grandchildren as well. They will tell me what to do from there. BRN-SPRING-2015.indb 63 3/29/15 11:41 AM