Valerie Has A Wiggle in Her Walk
Valerie gazed out of the window and smiled. She lived for Saturdays and loved watching him wash the car. He always took his shirt off, just for her, he would always say. Those other girls, the ones who smiled, gave a little wave as they passed, jumping effortlessly over the puddles of soapy water, had nothing on his Valerie.
His Valerie, he claimed to anyone who would listen, had a smile that shone so bright, it made the sun wish it had shades. His Valerie had a glow to her skin and a wiggle in her walk that he adored. More than that, his Valerie liked to watch him as he washed the car.
She didn't care that his six-pack was now two packs short of stud or that his flat stomach had become a huge wrinkle that flopped over the top of his pants. She watched him with the hunger and adoration from their courting days.
Valerie moved to stand squarely in the middle of the picture window, so he could see her. And he watched, her steps were slow, no longer able to run and jump into his arms when he walked through the door. Chest dripping water and he smelling of the outdoors, an odor she said turned her on like nothing on earth, and for years she would prove it for hours after the Saturday morning car wash. Her skin was no longer smooth, nor a glide to ecstasy. Beauty and life, a life well lived was etched into her sweet face. Lines of love, strength, and the burden of knowing she never carried her own bundle of joy, were scored into the flesh of her arms.
But none of that mattered, he didn't care if she didn't remember what day it was - most days. Or that she she rarely smiled at the things he said. He only knew, his Valerie came alive on Saturday mornings and the wiggle would be back in her walk, even if it were caused by the weakness in the metal of her geriatric walker.
Valerie Loves to Dance
Valerie loved to dance. It was as ingrained to her as dust twirling in a sandstorm. She would swing her long thin arms in the air as she twirled like a graceful ballerina. That is, until she heard them snickering behind her. Saying how she was all coltish with arms the length of her legs which would probably wrap around her neck and kill her.
The words stopped her cold in her tracks. Placing her hands on her small hips, she turned to look at those critiquing her, and studied their insolent poses with equal derision.
"For your information, my arms happen to be the perfect size for my body height. Which is a helluva lot more than I can say for the size of your head on your tiny assed body Calhoun or your long assed feet Donny, and I'm not gonna say anything about that hot air balloon Jimmy James uses for a stomach."
She knew those were fighting words for each of the three boys, but refused to back down. Instead, when they straightened their position to aggressive, hurt male pride; she moved her body from casually dismissive to a thirteen year old with a black belt and seven years of practice behind her.
She'd already fought each one of them privately and beat the hell out of them, it would be incomparable to what she would do to them in public. She had no fear, the one thing everyone knew on campus was - Valerie bothered no one and took no mess. Out of pure discrimination for her Asian race, many had tried and each had failed. Fighting and winning was a pride to her, even if it were stereotypical.
"Are you guys sure you want to do this? I have no problem smacking you around, actually, I'll probably enjoy it." She smiled a little as she secured her waist length black hair into the elastic band taken from her wrist. "It will be like the last time." The look of ashamed shock that passed between each of the boys, spoke volumes. Neither had told the other she had whooped them before. "Listen, that's in the past and between us. Let's let it go. Y'all go away and let me finish my dance practice or I can kick your asses in front of the entire school."
Gesturing with her head, she indicated the gathering crowd of students who'd given up their boredom of recess to hopefully watch a fight. "Which will it be?" She looked from one to the other. "You guys should know me by now. We've been in the same school for how many years? Go away and leave me alone."
For a second she took her eyes off of them and looked around the school ground. It was gorgeous, she liked it there-the majority of the time. Teachers were nice, most of the students were friendly, except the few who always wanted to challenge and be the first to best her. Wasn't going to happen. She absent mindedly waved at one of her friends in the crowd.
"Okay, so what's it gonna be? Let the little Asian girl beat the life outta your little butts in front of everyone or am I gonna dance?"
Jimmy James, flopped his fat ass on the ground, huge puffs of dust escaping to the air in a rush for survival.
"Shit, girl go on and dance. I'm not in a mood for fighting. And just so you know it," he rubbed his stomach. "I'm into weight training, now. One day, you gonna want this body."
Falling to the ground laughing, his two friends punched and tussled him while she continued dancing. Ignoring them all.
Wrapped in Satin
"I don't want to play with them anymore, Mom." Deborah tightly wrapped her five year old body within the dusty material of the drapes. "They say, I'm a thief, and I'm dirty." The thickness muffled her voice, but couldn't smother the sound of her weeping. "I never take their things. I wash myself hard, every night, but the color never comes off."
Jane paused, her motion frozen by the words. Where she was thinking to comfort a little girl suffering from a childhood misunderstanding, she was now lost for words at the implication of what she'd just heard. Was she jumping to conclusions? Was it possible that her little girl was facing her first taste of racism? Reaching for the drapes, she was surprised at the frantic struggle from the child. "Honey, come out. Let me talk to you."
"No, don't touch me. The color will rub off on you. Then your friends won't play with you either."
"Sweetie, come on out. I don't care about my friends. If they don't want to play with me, I'll find new friends who will. We'll find you new friends."
Jane reached for the tiny hand clinging to the folds of the drapes, intertwining their fingers. Long, trembling, thin white fingers, squeezed between plump, brown, damp with tears, baby ones. Bending over, she pressed her lips to them. A tradition of comfort, since the day Deborah was adopted and brought into the home
"You are a queen little Deborah and don't you ever forget that. Anyone who sees you differently is blind, mean and jealous."
"I'm a queen, Mom?"
"You will always be a queen. Those little girls are just jealous." She peeked behind the curtain and whispered. "They're too mean to even be princesses."
Deborah giggled."And you don't care if I'm dirty?"
"Only if you're covered in chocolate. Then I'll have to tickle you and lick your face all over."
Pulling the little girl from her hiding place, Jane tickled the little girl until she fell to the floor and they rolled around laughing joyfully, trying to forget the hurt.
The right arm to her brand new, third pair of glasses in a month, snapped as she quickly pushed them into the side pocket of her purse- at least that’s what she believed she was doing until she noticed they’d caught in the gap between the opening of the desk and it’s lid.
Oh well, she dismissed what was sure to be the beginning of an argument with her mom when she got home, in order to absorb the magic of covertly watching him.
The expanse of space between them seemed to shrink as she squeezed her eyes slightly shut. Taking note of the way he studiously kept his head pointed towards the teacher. The slow slight tilt to the right betraying him and letting her see the undeniable cut of his eye as he looked back at her from their corner.
Her heart thumped hard, forcing an unexpected rush of air through her lips and before he could see the infatuation in her eyes, her lashes fluttered, one- two times before lowering quickly. In an act, both as a lie to herself and as a foil to him, she pretended to be rapt into the deep scaring line on the surface of the desk. Her finger tracing and retracing the tiny heart she’d given life too, over and over for days, with the now worn tip of her multi-inked pen.
When he looked towards her she smiled. Barely moving her lips, peeking through the extra long hairs of her store bought lashes. Hoping the slow roll of her eyes beneath looked as sensual as they felt. She’s practiced the move in the hand mirror damned near an hour, the night before until she thought the balls would fall to the floor.
Each individual lash shielded her love from his eye. He was looking at her the dance had been going on for a while she looked up he looked down . Lowering her lashes she drew small circles around larger heart thinking about imprisoning their names within the larger, but what would it prove to show this to the world.When he didn’t see it himself?
He watched her. Pretending like she never saw him a little to the right of her shoulder. She was all he ever saw. He loved the way her lashes trembled in excitement when their eyes met. It was as if they danced... slowly. She tried not to let him know she was looking at him, but he knew. The way they fanned on her beautiful cheeks, the shadow of a smile that only he could see on her lips, concealing her feelings, but he felt them. Could almost feel the heat.
Valerie completely lost it when a shadow fell across her desk. Hadn’t noticed when the bell rang or the noise of classmates scurrying out of the room. He lowered his height to her level.
“I noticed you broke your glasses, again.” He held a roll of tape out to her. The one he’d kept in his pocket for days, just waiting. “I can walk with you to our next class.” He fluttered his lashes and smiled.
Signs of Luck
"I just wanna say FUCK YOU. FUCK you and your entire goddamned family. Fuck you and the sorry assed ground you walk on. Fuck you and the rotten, putrid air you breathe. After today, I'll never speak to you again. If , and it better be a huge damned “if...” if I never see you again, ever see you again in life... it will be too goddamned soon. You rotten, thieving, lying, no good bastard.”
Valerie, shouting to the her empty surroundings, slammed cabinets, threw dishes against the wall, scattered remnants of food from the refrigerator to the floors of the apartment in blind, raging anger. Refusing to see the chaos, but feeling an immense pleasure at the slimy feel of the crushed grapes and strawberries, smashed and smeared across the marble floor and thick piled white carpet. If only it had been his head, either of them. She'd had it, had never been so angry in life. All she could feel was the urge to hurt, the way she had been.
Pulling out drawers and emptying their contents to the floor, she rammed everything of value, every piece of jewelry or cash he thought he'd hidden from her, into the gaping opening of her small backpack. The larger, designated for clothing, stood ready for departure by the wall adjacent to the front door.
Finally, one more look around and a quick rush to the bathroom, one to vomit away her anxiety and the other as necessity, Valerie was ready to leave. She paused at the odd gurgling sound coming from the back of the toilet and reluctantly stepped back into the room to investigate. Lifting the lid, she jumped back at the swollen black object that popped up, to float at the surface. On closer examination her fear turned to astonishment and she danced around in excitement. The urge to plunge her hands in the water and grab the bag out was staled by her OCD and her reluctance to touch anything gross.
Using the hook handle of the shower brush to fish the plastic bag from the water, she carried the dripping mess into the kitchen, stuffed it into a dry garbage bag and then into a reusable grocery bag before stuffing it into the backpack. She grabbed her belongings, practically ran from the apartment, without looking behind her or shutting the door. With good luck that had never been with her one single day of her life, she made it to the bus stop and jumped into the approaching bus. The sight of the pair of green birds sitting atop of a fence, giving her a sense of peace. She took it as a sign life would be better from then on.
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