S. Smith: Fitting Back Into My Life, 3

I went and looked at myself in the mirror before I left the locker room. I couldn't see what she was talking about. My hair is cut short in a cute little natural that Moms keeps stressing me to straighten. It ain't got no unsightly dips in it and it ain't whop-sided. I ain't hanging outta my blouse or anything. I look fine.

I stop by the snack shack and get a sandwich and a Coke. I think about going into the cafeteria but all them folks up in there stress me, so I opt for sitting on a bench outside. I'm sitting there, chilling. The sun is in effect, all warm on my shoulders. I feel drowsy. I sit there almost the whole period. Both my soda and my sandwich get warm. I think I can just make it through the day. Everything is like it was.

But, I begin hearing about it toward the end of the lunch break. Yolanda comes over to my bench and sits, breathless. Guuuurrrrlllll . they fount a baby in a dumpster behind the convenience store. Her eyes shine. Her tone of voice says she is ready for a good bout of gossip. She is almost squirming, about to burst with the gossip.

I peel back the plastic top from that white plastic triangle container my sandwich is in. The plastic pops and crackles. It tears crooked but I can still get at one half of the sandwich. It seems like I chew for hours on that one bite of turkey sandwich.

They say-she doesn't let my silence stop her-that it was a little girl. She was still alive when they fount her this morning! Yolanda is almost bouncing now. They say she was dumped there sometime early early in the morning.

I take a sip of soda. It is warm and flat. It can barely go down my throat past that bite of sandwich.

Who do you think would do something like that? Yolanda taps me on the arm. Do you think it's somebody we know?

The feeling of her fingers stays on my arm. I shrug. How should I know? I throw the sandwich back into the white plastic triangle container. My head feels light and I am circling up above again, looking down at our heads.

That's a shame. Grinning, Yolanda waves across the quad at some girl I do not know. That's really a shame cuz it was a little black baby, too.

I stare out across the lawn. Some students sit in groups, smiling or laughing. Others sit by themselves, reading or studying. The sun is bright today, but it isn't warm.

You know, Yolanda sighs real heavy-like. You ain't no kind of fun. Don't sound like you talking about fun to me, I say.

Well, come and sit inside with me and Mimi.

I shake my head and stand up. I can't look at Yolanda so I look at her feet. I look at the reflection of the sun in those shiny platforms she got on. Its light is muddy and weak. No, I say. I'm going to the library to study.

Yolanda stares up at me with her mouth hanging open. Study? She asks.

I don't say anything.

Alright, she says. She tsks as she walks away, shaking her head. In the library, in a far far corner, I sit. My bones feel cold so I can't stop trembling.

I make it through sixth period English. English is an easy subject for me, so Mr. Roberts don't call on me often. They were talking about the poet Emily Dickenson and how she didn't know nothing about life because she was kind of reclusive, but her poems were full of rich imagery.

All I could see in my mind was the curtain blowing in a breeze over his shoulder. It had small blue flowers all over it. They was faded. I thought it was strange that he had flowers on his curtains. I wondered if one of his college girlfriends made them for him.

I hate those curtains.

And I keep hearing the song that was playing. I keep hearing that song. The one where the singer is singing about how bad she wants somebody.

I hate that song.

Since then, this whole time I have been floating up above. It wasn't me. It can't be me. It is not me.

I'm so tired by the time I make it home. I'm glad that I have a couple of hours to myself before Momma comes home. I turn on the T.V. to watch Judge Judy. I don't understand what them people are saying. I just see Judge Judy, her jaws tight. My stomach is cramping bad now, so I go to my room to lay down. I curl up on my side and that helps the pain. It doesn't hurt any worse than it did yesterday. It is just a stomach ache, I tell myself. That turkey sandwich did have mayonnaise on it. It did sit in that sun for a long, long time, I say to myself. It'll pass. It passed the last time. It'll pass this time, too. I'm myself again. I'm alright. I'm like I was.

My head is spinning.

I'm whirling in my new skirt, running my hands down my body. My body. It's mine. And I'm not dumb. No, no, my Momma didn't raise no stupid child. And he comes out from behind those curtains with blue flowers on 'em. He comes in the room like Dracula or something. All of the sudden, he is just there. His eyes are smoky and he holds my hand. My hand tingles. It's creeping up all over me making my skin feel hot, making my stomach bulge. And I want to be like his other girl. He likes me. He holds me. I want to be close to him. I just wanna be close.

A girl steps up. His girl. She is taller than me. Pretty, smooth brown skin, I have to admit. She has big eyes, walnut-shaped eyes that see everything. She speaks. It is like I see her energy stealing over him in a pink haze. A terrible elastic snap pulls me back, away from his hand holding mine. His eyes, smoky and black look into mine. They are boring into me like black flames reflecting the light. But they are gone. Both him and that girl. They are gone together.

I'm by myself. Nothing happened to me after that. Nothing. My stomach cramps. Nothing happened to me last night. It hurts. I must forget about it. It comes in waves. It wasn't like the books say at all. It overwhelms me until I escape and watch from up above. It wasn't like those movies show it. I was watching it the whole time. From the time he first did it to me, from all those months of pretending until last night. All of it was messy and it hurt. I watched it all from above and it was not me. It wasn't even part of me. But now, I'm like I was before. I'm like I was.

My stomach cramps.

Moms is shaking my shoulder and the room is dark. The light from the hallway paints the carpet a weird gray color. The room is spinning around. I don't understand what Momma is telling me. I let her sit me up. I'm surprised to finally hear her say something.

She says, Shit, girl, what's wrong?

I want to laugh, because Momma hates cussing. The bed feels sticky and I'm embarrassed that I've had an accident on myself like that. My new skirt is ruined. You stay right there, she says pointing her finger and shaking it at me, like it will pin me where she wants me to stay.

Momma, I say and I grab her hand. I look in her face and her eyes look like I've never seen them before. They are wide. The whites look almost like they are blue. The hallway light catches her face for a moment and I can see tears rolling down her cheeks. I wonder what has happened to her.

I say, Momma.

I wanna ask her what has happened but all I can do is hold on to her hand. She comes back to me. She holds on to me. She holds on to me real hard. She rocks me. She rocks me.

* * *

Top of page