Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Book II: The Mask (pt. 3)

“See, I was always the honor student, no matter what I did.” He faces her, black eyes frozen in her icy stare.
“And?” Her foot drums the floor beneath it.
“Getting there, don’t rush me.” His eyes become distant, staring at the wall before him as his hands rise, halting the distraction that threatens to derail his train of thought.
“My parents were strict and had high expectations for me. At home, I had to be the honor student. But, I was drawn to a world that didn’t readily accept me. If I said the wrong thing, or looked at people too hard, I would get jumped. It’s easy to target the only yellow kid on the block. I had to study people, observe how they gain acceptance, practice the slang, learn the swagger of the street. I studied black America, I didn’t look down on it.”
She shakes her head, “I’m so glad you were enticed by these American negroes, but it’s one thing to infiltrate a race, it’s another to have that race ascribed to you. No amount of changing my clothes and slang keeps people from seeing the black on me—”
“Is that a bad thing?”
“Kinda, when people think you the same as every ign’ant negro out there. My family works hard because everyone expects us to be crack heads and welfare cases. People expect Koreans to be smart business people. I’d trade stereotypes any day.” She turns away, her back arching as she continues to shake her head.
A smirk crosses his lips as he stares at her buttocks, peering out from beneath the tight red shorts. “But some stereotypes are scarier than others, so when my mom was robbed by some of the black kids on the block, the stereotype was justified in her and my older siblings’ eyes. Their experiences with black people were limited and what they knew frightened them. It wasn’t until then that we moved to Queens—”
“How exactly does any of that make you an authority on black people?” She again revolves to face him.
He becomes ensnared in her stare, “It doesn’t, but it sounds like your family thinks the same about black people as mine does—”
Her eyes narrow, “After all that you still don’t get it.”
“Get what?”
She pauses, inhaling a long, slow breath before starting, “Our families are different; My family hates what some black people do and wish they would change and do better. Your family is afraid of what all black people do and wish they could never be around them; they enjoy being full out racists among their people.”
He stands. Arms bracing against the windowsill as he peers at the snow and dust particles giving fullness to the beams of the light under the lampposts, before accumulating on the ground. “Nah, they’re just… they’re still learning—” he sighs.
She turns away from him, “And while they learn, I’ll keep my daughter away—”
“You know, I’m done fighting with you about breaking up, but I need to know—” he turns toward her staring at the wife beater clinging to her sultry form.
“I told you why. You just don’t want to accept it.” She stares down the hallway to the triangle of light piercing through the bedroom.
“No, I mean why you strung me along for two and a half years—”
“Huh?” Her neck snaps to meet him.
“Well, you’ve obviously been miserable since you met my mom two years ago-”
“I wasn’t miserable—”
“Don’t try to spare my feelings now, you let it out already. But did you ever love me?” His steely gaze locks on her black pupils like magnets, his voice rising.
“…” Green contacts orbit her corneas as she turns away.
“You’re lying, you can’t even look me in the face anymore!”
“Baby, don’t be ridiculous—”
The hallway light rushes in, repelling the darkness in the bedroom as the door creeks open. A chocolate figure emerges, round belly protruding beneath pink pajamas, a stuffed, brown rabbit obscuring the cartoon character that emblazons across her chest.
“Momma, why yall so loud?” She yawns, balled fists rubbing her eyes as she stumbles down the hallway.
“I’m sorry baby,” she rushes to meet the child, stooping to pick her up. “Daniel and I were just talking about grown up stuff.”
“Waddup kiddo, sorry we got too loud, you know how I get sometimes.” He walks over to the couple. The younger of the duo turn to face him, “Danew… aw you dwunk?” A smile parts her lips, revealing white baby teeth, before erupting in laughter.
“Now Randi, you know I ain’t drunk. I’m a supa hero and we need to keep dat a secret from your moms, so I act funny so she don’t suspect nuffin.” He rests his index fingers against his lips “Shhhhhh.”
Her bony index finger mirrors his as she duplicates his motion; “Shhhhh.”
“Alright, bed time baby girl.” She turns from him, walking to the bedroom door. “You can even sleep in mommy’s bed tonight, since we woke you up outta yours.”
“G’night Danew.” She waves, slender pink arm rising above her mother’s dark shoulder.
“Night sweety.” Retreating to the window, his body deflates. Back resting against the cold pane while looking down the hallway. Shadows enlarge and recoil in the light until the darkness occupies the room. The shadows cut across the light entering from the hallway.
“Good night baby.” She flicks off the light switch, filling the room with blue silence. Negotiating the darkness, she approaches the sofa and sits stiffly.
Silence lingers. He sits besides her, his jeans resting gently against her naked calf. “Faridah, remember that first night we laid together? Before everything happened with Randy, before I found the phone, before you made the call? That night, you made me promise to never hurt you.”
“I did.” Her body softens, head brushing his shoulder.
“You said if I could do that, you’d always be good to me.” He places his right arm behind her, drawing her to him.
“Sure right—” she shifts in her seat, moving closer, arms still tense beneath her breasts.
“And I kept my promise, even when I wasn’t sure about where you stood.” His left arm wraps around her stomach as he burrows his lips and nose into her hair.
“I guess so—” She straightens her back, pulling away a bit.
“So why?” He moves closer.
“Baby, we’ve gone over this. Why are you making this so hard for yourself?” She removes his hands from her waist.
“Baby, don’t pull away from me, we’ve been through so much already. Whatever it is, we can get through this together. Please don’t just end it like this.” He plants his head into her back, sobbing.
She frees herself and moves toward the light switch, “Doesn’t look like your cab’s coming.
“You can stay here tonight. I’ll have your things packed in the morning.” The warm yellow light darkens her swollen sockets, reddened eyes sparkling in its glow.
“I’ll make sure you can see Randi, if that’s what you want.”
“Baby I love you.”
“We will always be friends—”
“Baby I need—”
“You can’t convince me to keep working at it, I’ve already decided.”
“You’ll be okay.”
“Don’t I satisfy you?”
“You mean are you big enough? I told you, the sex was good Long Dong Silver, ‘mi love you long time’.” A smile parts her lips, revealing her white teeth.
“No, did I satisfy you?”
“I told you the sex—”
“No, did I satisfy you emotionally,” He approaches her, his palms gripping her shoulders, black eyes commanding her attention, “All those nights on the phone, all the time I spent listening to you complain about him, even after we started cheating on him. Did you love me during any of it?”
Her upper lip quivers as she focuses her stare at him, “You was what I needed you to be. But you was obsessed with the interracial thing.”
“How the fuck you gonna say—” his black eyes narrow, lips becoming tense.
“You loved bein’ the bad li’l Asian. The wayward son; showin’ ya parents that you can succeed among the fuckin’ minorities, do it with talent, not intelligence.”
“Wait… nobody cced me on the memo. When did we become the majority?”
“Ha, ha, ha. Keep jokin’, but I think sometimes you wanted to be the interracial couple for so long that you forgot ta work on the couple part.”
“You wasn’t listening to me before I guess. This is who I am—”
She shuts her eyes, before re-steadying her vision, “This is who you choose to be.”
“I didn’t choose the culture I grew up in.”
“But you choose which to embrace and when to do it. When we first met, you were articulate, funny and intelligent. As soon as you found out I was from the hood, you started getting neggerish on me.”
“The more time I spent around you, the more comfortable I felt being the real me.”
“And which real you was that? The honor student or the Chigga?”
“Wow! I exposed my emotions to you, showed you the real me that no one else is privy to, Randy understood that.”
“Randy underwhat?!?” Her black eyes widen in mock surprise as a smile parts her lips, “he ain’t never liked your ass neither, he thought you was a dick rider tryin’ to be like him.”
“You’re just saying things to change how I feel about my boy.”
“The way you act, your jokes—”
“So when we cheated on him, when you seduced me, you thought I was trying to be like Randy?”
“I thought you were disloyal to him, talking to his girlfriend all the time, telling me about the girls he would have over there.”
“So because I was looking out for you—”
“Nah, I appreciated it, but I knew the kind of people he kept as friends—”
“You just trying to say hurtful things so I won’t try to convince you no more.”
“I’m not, Daniel,” her bust rises, heaving as she sighs, “it’s just that you started wearing blackface around people the moment you had your black girlfriend from the hood.”
“How could you say that?”
“When no one’s around, when you drop the façade, it’s not nigga dis and nigga dat. When you’re comfortable, you show me your intelligence, you never resort to slang.”
“I’m bilingual like that—”
“See, it’s a joke to you. You actin’ like a Korean Al Jolson and you don’t give a fuck that nobody else thinks that’s cool. It ain’t you, it’s a front you put to act down wit’ black people. Randy saw it. I see it.”
“I know you’re just talking out of anger right now. We loved each other—”
“Did we?”
His forehead wrinkles while he releases his grip, withdrawing from her presence, “The fuck you mean?” Her lips stiffen, stance becoming more rigid as she locks into his eyes, “When was the first time I said I loved you?”
His eyes travel a high arc in his corneas as his head sways impatiently. The black eyes shoot swiftly back to hers, “Not this shit again.” With steady steps, she stalks him to the living room, “Every time I mention it, you dismiss my feelings.”
His body collapses into the soft black leather. His face is aslant, eyes dancing around objects on the floor. “Your feelings—”
She orbits the couch, kneeling before his vision, “Say what you want about us being together for so long without me saying the words, but you don’t force—”
His curious eyes focus their gaze on hers. “I never forced you—”
“What do you call it?” Her stare is sharp.
His gaze softens, caressing her high cheek bones, as tears gather at the base of his eyelids, “Trying to make you admit your feelings after a year.”
She raises her rakish figure, her dry, green eyes tethered to his watery stare, “That’s not how you make someone admit their feelings. Not during something that intimate, not after what I had just been through. I was conflicted, feeling guilt, remorse, anger, responsibility. We were responsible, but it felt good when we were good together, that should have been good enough!” She oscillates toward the long hallway, staring at the beige door enclosing the room that encases her baby.
He rises to meet her, gripping his fingers on her shoulders, “We are good together, I just needed to hear you say it then. I mean, I gave you her phone, told you to call. After it happened I wasn’t sure if you was only talking to me because you felt guilty, or was lonely, but—”
She slides free of his embrace, “I could call you another cab if you’re uncomfortable here.”
He readies himself to reintroduce his embrace to her soft skin, but her algid stare suspends his rush. “But—”
“Sleep on the couch, buses will probably be running in the morning.”
“Baby, I’m sorry.”
“I’m not your baby anymore.”
Her stance loosens, head hanging in fatigued resolve, “Good night Daniel.”
Finger lake tears ripple along his scarlet cheek, “Stay with me tonight.”
She rotates toward the door again, her voice trailing her stride, “Good night Daniel, get some sleep.”
“Faridah, I need you.” His arms collapse, body deflating.
“Good night!” The closing door punctuates her exit, silencing the living room.
His body crumples to the floor, arms circumscribing his knees, drawing them to his chest. His eyes suffocate beneath a tsunami of withheld tears.
“Tell me you love me!

That's it for this entry, if you like what you read, you can purchase Listen... Volume 1: death at or on Featuring artwork along with the stories (Check out the trailers for a preview of the artwork).Use discount code: TG469U93 to save 15%.

Coming Tuesday, March 17:

Coming Wednesday, March 18:
Book III: Undying Love (pt. 1)

1 comment:

  1. I wrote a blog entry about racism in writing and referenced your blog. You can read the article here: