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With Two Months Inbetween Them, I Only Remember One

My mother took us to Target to get black clothes. We were happy. New clothes. New anything was worth being happy about. I didn't feel sad then, even though I knew what the clothes were for. We chatted happy things through the dressing room walls. My sister told me I looked like a black witch. She was right, I had a thin, pinched face with rangy animal eyes and in all that black I looked quite ready for Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'.

The day came in heaving and gasping, blue as a robin's egg, the bluest sky I had ever seen. My uncle grabbed my shoulders tight and told jokes in his joking voice. I tried to laugh but it came out squished and thin like it had struggled through an trumpets heart and that was all it had left because I was flat-line scared. When we swam in the Nazi-eyed pool he held me under when my mother was inside. It was cold and dark with the white concrete chewing on my knees. I pulled water in and out of my mouth to pretend like I was breathing. His arms dug up under my collarbone, thick and hard, sun-tough like my fathers but they hurt me and my father's never had on purpose. I lay slack underwater until my head melted onto my shoulders and the fuzzy picture that sometimes raced across the TV screen danced behind my eyes and he let me up. I climbed out of the pool and padded up to my room and curled up under the covers, bare as the day I was born as my head moved slow as if it were trying to crawl through Jello. I slept deep and long like a wolf howl. I woke to my mother and the black clothes.
The sun blew sugar-sweet kisses on my face and I stayed outside with a cousin I barely knew, bouncing my heels up and down on the pavement. The cousin was a stupid boy, trying to tell me things I wanted to know nothing about. But I stayed close to him though, knowing in the winding cracks of my heart that I could not go back inside. Knowing that the second I stood unoccupied, the aunts would fly down like black crows, squawking and sniffling, tugging me inside to see what I did not want to. I already knew what color it was. Ivory. Ivory like an elephants tusk or a jar of flour. I already knew that the flowers bent backwards out of their vases with bosoms that spilt out of thin petal dresses. I knew that the chairs were off kilter and that half of his jail was open and his hands were waxy and his face was slack like a melted candle. I knew he didn't look like he had when I was with him, when his hand was in mine and it was warm. He didn't look like I knew him before. He always look like a candle under a glass, losing it's oxygen but still hanging on with everything just the same. I knew all of it. But I didn't want to.





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