And Your Veins, They're Not Fables

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Short Stories

   I look up at the sun; I can feel my face turn bright red.  I wipe my sweaty hair away from my forehead with my arm; it’s too hairy for a girl. I step away. I look at the dog house I made. I didn't need to make it; we don’t even have a dog. My ma made me go outside because she doesn't want me to see how much she drinks.

   I walk to the middle of the yard and sit down. I take my hammer and a left over nail and hammer it into the dirt. That's all we have in our yard. Dirt. Most people have grass and a garden and a fence to keep all their childrens in. All we have is dirt and dust and a metal gate that stabs your hands and legs if you try and climb over it. I run my thumb over a scar on my leg. I keep hammering the nail into the ground, taking it out and startin’ over. I hit my thumb with the hammer.

     "Damn," I throw it away from me and spit at it; it lands near the gate. A man is standing there. His skin is dark.

     "You alright?" He says to me. "I saw you hit your thumb with that hammer, there."

     "I'm fine," I say.

   He pushes the gate open and walks towards me.

     "Are you sure?" He says. He squats in front of me and takes my hand in his.

   I nod and take my hand away from him. He smiles at me.

  I hear the screen door with no screen in it open up.  It's my ma, in her dressing gown with a glass of something.

     "Hiya," the man says.

     "Hello there," my ma says. She loosens the tie on her dress and presses the glass up to her neck.

     "How old are ya, boy?"

     "20." He stands up. "How old are you?"

   I laugh once. He looks down at me.

   My ma raises her drawn on eyebrows and closes the collar of her dress.

   He holds his big hand out for me to take. I take it. I get up.

     "I'm Heathcliffe," he says.

     "What kind of nigga has the name Heathcliffe?" I ask him.

He shrugs. "I do." He turns away from me and walks back towards the gate.

     "I'm Lowery," I say to Heathcliffe as he closes the gate.

     "Nice to meet you ma'am." He tips his hat. I walk inside.

     "What did he say to you?" My ma asks.

     "Nothin'."

 

 

   I crawl inside the dog house I made. My dress snags on a nail I didn’t hammer in all the way. I see a pair of legs walk in front of the dog house hole. They’re a man’s legs.

     “Hello?”

     “It’s me, Heathcliffe.”

   I crawl out from the doghouse. Heathcliffe is holdin’ paint cans.

     “I got you some paint for that there dog house.” He holds the two cans out to me.

     “Set ‘em down over there.” I say and point my tool box.  I put my hair back over my ears. I don’t want him to see how red they are. My back is facin’ the house. I hear behind me the door open and slam shut.

     “Yoohoo! Heathcliffe, is that you?”

     “Yes ma’am it’s me.” He tips his hat.

     “Heathcliffe dear, I was wondrin’ if you know how to fix a broken sofa. The leg on ours’ come off.” She leans up against the doorway.

     “Why yes I do ma’am. I can fix that no trouble.” He looks at me and then walks for the house, taking off his dirty hat.

I get into the house last.

     “Heathcliffe sweat heart, could you fix the sofa outside?”

     “Outside, Miss? It’s awfully hot.”

     “You’ll be fine. I’ll even make you some lemonade.” She smiles at him.

     “Alright ma’am.” He nods and drags the sofa out the door.

   My ma sits down by the kitchen window to watch Heathcliffe.

     “Make him some lemonade, will ya?”

     “He’s got tattoos, sweet mercy.” I hear my ma say.

I walk over to the window and look. Sure as Hell he does. They’re nice ones too.

     “I hate tattoos.” She sips her drink.

I smile.

 

Ma keeps findin’ odd jobs for him to do around the house, mostly outside.

   I go outside to Heathecliffe to take him a cup of lemonade.

     “You don’t have to do this ya know.” I say.  I thrust the cup at him.

     “I know, but I wanna.”

     “Why?”

He doesn’t answer me but I see him smiling.

     “Hey, you know, I’ve been thinkin…since I first met you.” I cross my arms.

     “What about?” He says without looking at me.

     “Your tattoos.”

He straightens up. He turns around and smiles at me.

     “I want some.”

     “Do ya?”

I nod. I know he’s gonna laugh at me and tell me girls shouldn’t get tattoos. My mama always says you can’t catch a man if you got tattoos.

     “You got any money?”

     “Yeah, I got some. Not much. I could take some from my ma.”

     “You get a holda’ that money, and I’ll take you to a man; the same one who done this mess to me.” He moves his hand all over the places with tattoos.

     “I like ‘em.”

     “Thank you. So whad’ya say?”

I nod.

     “I’ll come by your place first and we can walk togetha’” he says to me as I walk away.

     “No, I can’t be seen with a nigga in public. Just tell me where it’s at.”

     “Sure thing ma’am.” He usually smiles when he calls me ma’am. He didn’t. I feel sick. I frown at myself.

As I walk inside I see my ma standing at the window, stirin’ her drink.

 

   I hear the radio announcer’s voice ramblin’ on. I keep lookin through the crack in the door to make sure ma isn’t coming this way. I finally find my ma’s emergency money. It’s not a big wad but it’s enough.  I leave her room.

     “I’ll be at Christine’s,” I say. I walk out the door, slamming the screen.

 I walk into town and I see Heathcliffe sittin’ on the sidewalk edge.

     “Hiya,” I say. I smile.

     “Ready?” He gets up, pattin’ his thighs. I nod. “Where you gon get it?” He looks me up ‘n’ down.

     “My side.” I start walkin’ towards the building.

     “Whatd’ya want?” He opens the door.

     “Virgin Mary shavin’ off all her hair.” I walk inside. Heathcliffe laughs hard.

     “Where in the hell did you get that idea?”

I shrug. “I had a dream ‘bout it.”

He laughs again.

     “Does it hurt much?” I feel sick.

    “Yes,” he says.

     “Oh.” I sit down.

A man walks out from the back.

 

Nothin’. I don’t feel a damned thing. Heathcliffe walks up from behind me and slaps me on my back.

     “That hurt.”

     “Sorry.”

We walk home. I’m holding his hand. I don’t care who sees me with a nigger. My ma sees us through the window. She walks out the door and walks up to him and I. She never leaves the house.

     “What were you two doin’ might I ask?”

     “I got a tattoo.” I walk right on past her.

     “You did what?”

I lift my dress up. Heathcliffe can see my panties.

     “Put your dress down, child!” She slaps me. She grabs my wrist and drags me to the house. “I knew being friends with a nigga was a bad idea. Go home,” she says to Heathcliffe.

     “No ma’am.”

    “Excuse me?”

     “Lowery?”

I turn ‘round.

     “Yeah?”

     “Wanna eat with my folks?”

     “Sure.” I shrug.

     “You’re not goin’ nowhere, Lowery.” She digs into my shoulder with her fingernails.

     “Yes I am and you can’t do a damn thing about it.”

  I walk away from her. I grab Heathcliffe’s hand and walk out the gate; it doesn’t close behind me because it’s too rusted. 

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SSmoothie's picture

my my, what a talent you

my my, what a talent you have!!! i WAS captured by this wonderful prose. I like the format towards the end it made it much easier to read. This was 'A-class'! not saying there arent things that need improvement but I DEFINATELY AM SAYING THAT WAS A DAMN GOOD READ! just enough grit and danger to make it compelling! great work! SS


Don't let any one shake your dream stars from your eyes, lest your soul Come away with them! -SS    

"Well, it's life SIMS, but not as we know it" - ¡$&am