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Dandelions (A Short Story Based on The Bluest Eye)
Pecola walked. Seventy seven, seventy eight, seventy nine steps. She bent and picked a dandelion head, shredded its petals, and squished the yellow pulp in her palm. Eighty, eighty one, eighty two. She revel reveled in this power, able to pick a dandelion-pluck-and snuff it out. Eighty three, eighty four. There were so many to pick. The sap or nectar or pup or whichever bled under her nails. The fingernails on her pinkie were longer than the rest of her hands. Those nails were the only two spared from Pecola’s nervous teeth. Eighty five, eighty six, eighty seven.
(He covered her in a blanket.)
She stopped at the corner and reached through a chain linked fence. The back of her hands were dry. Her knuckles were red. Eighty eight, eighty nine.
Her mother. Her father. Sammy.
Pecola jay walked and didn’t care. She sloshed her feet in the gutter, again. Day by day she wandered the streets…looking for- she didn’t know- something. Maybe it was good to get out from that air in her house. That air stunk. It felt still, as though it was the same air they were breathing for years and years. It tasted like dust. It tasted like Cholly.
She wanted to cry. She wanted someone to see her.
‘Look there, that’s Pecola- crying.’
‘Poor girl…poor pretty girl.’
Like that. But it didn’t happen.
Pecola came home-quietly-and sat at the piano bench, staring mutely at the keys. What if she placed her hands on them and pressed, and heard music? Chord after chord after chord.
‘You don’t know how to play, anyways.’ That voice, it was Mrs. Breedlove. Well, Mrs. Breedlove was out, but Pecola heard her all the same. ‘Nasty, you can’t read music.’
She left the piano untouched. Pecola drifted into the kitchen and rifled around for something to eat. Whenever she bit- she bit and bit and bit- she swallowed, she felt something again. Whole. But everything she tried to eat repulsed her. The kitchen. Nothing was good. Everything was stale. It was rotted. A cockroach scuttled across the floor. Her stomach flipped. Was she hungry?
She rubbed her eyes. It smelled like dandelions.
The ghost of her father sung to her, telling her to eat. ‘Eat, Pecola, eat.’ It came from the sink. Drip. She used to wash dishes there…drip. The voices came from the blanket.
And she wanted them to say: ‘poor girl, poor pretty girl.’
But they didn’t.
“Daddy?” this voice came from the front room, “Where are the people that used to live here? What happened to them?”
“They’ve been dead a long time, son.”
Pecola ran for the only door. Something stung in her eyes.
“Look,” the boy said.
For a moment, Pecola’s eyes were locked with his. The boy tugged and tugged at his father’s hand. The smell of dandelions was overpowering. She turned to him and looked with blank eyes.
Pecola was gone.