It happened again. This time was more intense than the last. I got visited. I wish I could know when this is going to stop happening to me. I wasn’t doing any harm to anyone. Just chillin’, you know, mindin’ mines. Check it.
I was sleep at my mom’s house. I stayed over there for the weekend to try and escape the tangible things that normally haunt my life. It’s a sanctuary to me now, from everything except my parents’ scrutiny. But I’ll take that over the rest of my worries any day.
Yeah, so I was sleep, right? I don’t think I was dreaming. I never do. Just blackness beyond my eyes and a whooshing sound in my mind. Drifting in between sleep and consciousness. I turned over and grabbed the sheets and pulled them tightly over my head. My brother always told me that at night my sheets could be the shield to whatever may harm me in my nightmares. I never would have thought that would’ve been useful to me that night. And I was right cause it wasn’t.
Out of nowhere my half-alert senses sharpened on me. At least the ones that weren’t knocked out for the night like my eyes. Sounds became sharp and my heartbeat started to rush. Am I having an attack? No, I couldn’t be. I never did when I was asleep. So why was my heart steadily buggin’?
Then I heard it. It was far out at first and then got closer and closer. Dark heavy footsteps, their sound sinking through the nearly hollow wooden floor, the ceiling of my neighbors beneath me. Each step resounded through the ground with a horrid echo. Sounded like it was walking in from the rear of the apartment. I thought nothing of it as I stayed there struggling with myself to get back to sleep quick.
I cinched the sheets in my hand to assure that no one would snatch away my protective armor. One by one, the steps kept coming nearer and heavier. Then, at the opening of living room, they made a turn and walked in the direction of the sofabed where I lay, covering and trying not to care. That’s when it started. They came nearer and nearer and with every step faster and louder, almost as if they were mimicking the relentless pounding of my straining, breathless heart. Faster and nearer until they came to a halt at the edge of the sofa bed. Just waiting.
“It has gotta be mom. Who else would be awake at this time of morning, walking around the house?” I thought to myself. “Please let it be mom.” I went to take a look but when I tried to move my hand, it was glued to the bed. I tried to even jerk my body, but it was paralyzed in fear. I envisioned myself going through the motions of yelling out and kicking and biting. But my body remained silent and shivering. My eyes opened wide with fear behind my closed lids. My lips were trembling and I wanted to cry the tears that were welling up in my eyes that wouldn’t, that couldn’t, drop no matter how tightly I squeezed my lids together
There was a scream lodged in my throat that was choking off my air supply and some invisible weight that held me down so that when I moved, all I could feel was the cold, hard iron frame pressing through the weak, thin, sofa bed mattress piercing into my back.
Voices went screeching through my mind. “ Please move. Please take a look to see what that is. What’s wrong with you!!? Move dammit!!! Your gonna die!!!”
I finally swallowed my scream and it made its way to the pit of my stomach where it reemerged as a ball of fearful courage. I counted it off in my head. “Okay 1…2…3!” I sprang up like a button was pushed, as fast as I could without hurting myself to finally take a look at my antagonist. In an instant, my life flashed before my eyes while distorted voices and thunderclaps screamed through my head. At the end, there was darkness. I focused my eyes and there was nothing. Nothing, except the sound of my heavy breath and footsteps walking away from me hurriedly.
I jumped out of my bed and followed the footsteps to the back of the apartment to see if it was my mom playing a cruel joke on me. In hot pursuit of my mystery I reached my parents’ bedroom door. When I peered in, I saw them nestled together in bed, unmoved.
I opened my mouth to speak. “Maman?” I whispered, shocked that my voice came out at all. “Maman?” She stirred. “Did you or papy come by my bed just now?” “Huh?,” she responded in a sleepy daze, “What?” “Did you come in to check on me just now,” I repeated impatiently. “No. Why? Are you okay?”
I explained to her what had happened in choppy detail. She beckoned me over and put her arms around me gesturing with her thumb a cross against my forehead, mumbling some unknown sacred chant below her breath with her eyes still closed. Same as she always did when I was a kid and I had a nightmare. She escorted me slowly back to my bed where she carefully laid open a bible on Psalm 23. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” I thought to my self. I didn’t feel very safe until she kissed my forehead with one final benediction. Then I watched her slowly wobble away, grasping on to chairs and tables when she could until she disappeared from sight. And once again I was alone. Just me and the casing for my little soul on delivery.
I hope I didn’t scare him just now. He was pretty silent all night. Now he’s just poking about in there. When I sit real still and concentrate, I can see the push of his feet raise the stretch mark striped shell of my stomach. Swell up. Go down. I feel like I’m watching someone else even now and its almost time. I hope it will still be like a movie to me when my feet are hoisted up in those stirrups. I wonder.
I squint my eyes and watch the effects of the bright, revealing, fluorescent white light squeeze its way through the slits of the blinds and make a checkered print against the marks of my stomach. I really hate them. They make me look like some warped zebra or the victim of a mad slasher. My skin is replete with streaks of cafe au lait mixed with bittersweet chocolate on my otherwise even complexion of smooth burgundy brown. I just pray that when my little Majesty is born that with enough hope and cocoa butter, they’ll fade away and restore my cute little washboard stomach that I so prided myself on. Oh well. We’ll just have to wait and see.
I haven’t seen his face yet, but I know exactly what he’ll look like. My mother always said, “L’enfant est la somme de la moitie de s’est parents.” Children are the sum of half of their parents. So he’ll have chinkie eyes just like the both of us. Khiry has a Japanese grandmother and my mom just used to cornrow my hair really tight. He’ll have little wolf teeth just like his daddy and my thick puffy nose. He’ll have smooth, satiny caramel skin. For a man, he’ll be average height, unless my father’s traits kick in. I hope he has Khiry’s hair. That good hair. Oops…not “good”. No such thing. “PC, Zha. PC.” Khiry’s voice boomed through my head. He had this thing about being politically correct. Okay, I hope he has manageable, shiny, soft, thick, curly hair as compared to difficult, thin, dry, kinky hair like mine. But most of all, I pray he’s healthy and complete and doesn’t come out with any extra chromosomes. I heard somewhere that them chromosome jammies are something that you can get too much of. Unlike other things in life. I could never get enough of my sweet, special ‘K’.
When I first met Khiry, I was helping a friend of mine to give a four-part seminar on job skills and interviewing techniques at this community center in Queens Village. One day, I had to hand back some handwritten essay papers to the group. When I got to his paper, his handwriting was so atrocious that his ‘k’ looked like and ‘h’ and the ‘h’ looked like a capital ‘A’. So when I first called out the name, I struggled for a moment and said, “Hairy? Hairy Jones?” “No, no,” he said with a devilish grin on his face, “That’s Khiry. Okay. Ky-Ree. Got it?” His tone was gentle, but I was embarrassed in front of all those students. So I continued to blow him off and keep fuckin’ up his name. Everything from ‘Hairy’ to ‘Irie’ to ‘Smilee’. Finally one day after the course he stopped in front of me. He towered over me at 6’1″ (as compared to my meager 5′ even). He raised his hand and raked his slender fingers gently through his jet black, shiny curls fashioned in a low fro. I intensely watched his fingers dive, disappear and reemerge in that pool of darkness. Slowly he parted his supple, wet lips. I had to catch myself from drifting off into a daze as I imagined the feel of his lips float across the skin on my cheeks, on my lips, on my neck. He flashed his deep brown eyes that told of a door to so many secrets in his soul and gently asked that I unlock it. “Hi, Ha…” I couldn’t do it. He was so beautiful. Why was I shading this man?? “I mean, Khiry.” “Right,” he hummed while carefully he looked me over. “Don’t forget that ‘K’. Its very, umm…” He paused as he looked into my eyes and I could feel the warmth of his hand reaching towards my arm. He continued, “Its very special. Just like I could never forget a special name like yours, Yasia.” By this time he had encased my hand in his powdery grip and I started to melt on the inside. The click of heels and the dragging of tired feet away from the room echoed in the tiny, windowless, pea green classroom. It was just him and me in the room. Anything could happen, I thought to myself. And how I wanted something to. In my mind, I could feel his hands wrap around my waist and cradle me in his grasp and hold me close to his soul. I really wanted everything to happen right then and there. But I couldn’t go out like that, though. He just messed up my name. I couldn’t let him get away with that.. “ My name is not Yasia, Mr. Mack from Way Back. My name is Aiasia. I–A–Zha, GOT THAT?!!” I clumsily grabbed up my books and with a giant huff, I whipped around, my skirt twirling around my ankles and sashayed out of the room with my nose high up in the air. But, the whole time I put on my display of adamancy, I could feel his gaze locked on me; searing through me and tingling all over. I wanted to look back and see if he was still behind me when I got to the street, but I knew I couldn’t give up the chase. You jerk, I thought to myself as I shook my head with my eyes pressed close. What in the heck did you do that for. I guess I originally felt offended because I was already dating someone at the time. But all I needed was a taste of Khiry’s love, so sweet and unselfish. It made me realize how sour what I with Andres already had was. We were from two totally different worlds and we lied to ourselves and told each other it didn’t matter. We lived that lie for a year and a half. Then finally, like a prayer answered, Khiry appeared. Within a matter of weeks, Khiry put an end to my nightmares. Andres was out of the picture and Khiry stepped into my life.
K lived in the “ghettos” of Hempstead and had that bad-boy-bad-ass-fuck-you-attitude that made me want to smooth out his rough edges. To make him more cultured and “civilized,” whatever that is. But as time went on, I loved him with rough edges and all and I always will. We promised each other that no matter what happened our love would make the bridge over any waters that separated us. It was a promise we made the night we conceived Majesty.
It was our year and a half anniversary and he wanted to make it special. His way of making it special was to go slow and smooth, caressing every inch of my skin with his hands, his face and his lips, instead of giving in to all the passion surging through him and roughing me up. Don’t get me wrong, I never minded that because he knew we shared a freakiness in common. Anyway, he bought me this pink teddy set. It had a camisole made of silk and lace with spaghetti straps, cut off at just the right spot for my outie belly button to poke through. The bottom was in the French cut style that gently ruffled low at the edges to give a daisy dukes effect. But the inseam kept ridin’ up my butt so I was more than happy when that part came off.
“I love you, Yasia,” he breathed into my ear in between nibbles as he scooped me up and slid me effortlessly underneath the weight of his body. A weight that always made me feel safe and warm. Positioned correctly, it wasn’t heavy. I just felt like he was sinking into me and through me. In the wrong spot, I felt my life’s breath slowly leaving me just enough to say “Unh, Baby, get up!!”
But when I look into looked into his eyes, I saw myself seeing himself in me. That’s what was so special about us. We were one another. Like our soul got split on the way to earth. One landed in the Bronx and the other half fell in Oyster Bay six months later. We waited so long to be reunited. 19 long years, to be exact, just to be apart again. But it isn’t for long. We’ll be together again real soon. I can feel it.
“Damn! It’s cold in here!” I think to myself as the icy wind came whisking through the curtains. I caught one of those crazy chills that raises the goose bumps on your cheeks. I worked my way out of bed and got up to shut the window. This is always a struggle with these damn project windows. I finally coax it down and part two thickets of the blinds to see out into the street. There’s a half moon on the right side out in the sky. I always seem to notice the moon on nights that I’m really thinking a lot or when something special happens to me. I always told Khiry that the moon is my “bestest” friend, next to him of course. It’s always watching over me and guiding me through the darkness. The moon was full on the night when K and I decided to get married. I was like one of those mutual engagement thingies. It was cool. We asked each other and took turns getting on our knees and proposing. He said he felt funny watching me genuflect and take his large, powerful hand in both of mine and look up at his face. His face, poised there, standing against the royal sky dotted with sparkling pinholes to heaven, looked so gentle and ethereal. You could see the love on his face, in his eyes and feel it in the warmth of his hand. There was always so much equality between us. It wasn’t a man-woman thing. It was a best friendship. We had no one in the whole world who understood us the way we did each other. “Indivisible, Baby!!! We can never be apart. We share a soul.” he always used to say when I told him I thought he’d leave me. He had this sensual manipulation of this language that he used all the time around me. But his tone would transform when he was discussing the future of our people.
He would always be trying to influence me with this science of his. It was a cross between philosophy, physical science, history and civil rights. He had so many ideas to make the world a beautiful kingdom for our people just like he imagined it to be in the beginning, back in the “motherland.” He wanted to go to Egypt so bad and see where all this spirit and soul and madness started out. In fact, I was talking to his boy, Dawheed, who has connections on this airline. He said he was gonna hook us up.
When I told Khiry that I was setting it up and was going to be able to pay for it, he got so excited. “Baby, this is gonna be so fly,” he said like a child with a new toy, “When we get there, I know I’m gonna feel at one with all of our ancestry and the spirits of the rightful owners of the world.” He had a dreamy look in his eye as if we were walking into one of the pyramids as he spoke. All of our free time was spent looking at Egyptian brochures featuring bright pyramids against the dense blue sky making an indelible mark in heavens, lazy two-humped camels wasting the day away at a local oasis. The people pictured in the brochures, wrapped in long flowing colorful cloths to protect them from the sun, looked welcoming and warm (not literally). And Khiry’s expression the whole time is one of amazement and anticipation.
“Hey!! Lemme get a look already,” he teased as he loomed behind me when I was going through the brochures. I could feel his impatience sometimes dissolving through my back as he looked over my shoulder. “Would ya wait a second, K? I gotta check these prices.” I would say knowing full well I was only irking him. He snatched the brochures out of my hand. Just as I whipped my head around to reprimand him, he stuck his tongue out at me, with this mischievous look on his face and smacked me on my behind as he went darting down the hallway in my apartment. I ran after him and ended up chasing him around this glass table. We must have played cat and mouse for a good fifteen minutes, till he turned around, I tackled him down and he fell backwards on the loveseat in the living room. “Now, I’ve got you,” he said as he clasped his arms around me. “Whattaya mean ‘now?'” I asked coyly as he looked at my lips, “I’ve always been yours” I said as I snuggled in close and rubbed my nose against his. He breathed in deep and closed his eyes. The cool air whipping past my neck into his body felt soothing. He exhaled and smiled. I heard him rustle the brochure around and I turned to look at it with him. When I turned back to his face, I saw it had become a serious kind of intense. “I can’t wait.” he said. “I can’t wait.” he would say every time we opened up any Egyptian anything.
“4:00 AM” the clock in the dinette reads from here. “I need to get in bed,” I think to myself. I work my way into bed and slowly but surely making it to the center of the bed by scooting my butt over inches at a time. I sit and admire the sunken orb on my body and caress it with both hands, wishing I could bend over far enough to hug it close between my legs. I start to feel dizzy and my mind floats away in thought. I close my eyes and began what I thought was dreaming.
So many thoughts ran through my head before I could focus on one. It was dark outside and the lights on Hempstead turnpike were coming all over us, all around and above us. Surrounding us in white, green and yellow lines of light. The street lamps were making the floor have a soft, brownish pink hue that looked mushy instead of solid. The floor would give in when we stepped on it but we both acted like it was okay. We weren’t saying anything to each other but it felt like we didn’t have to because everything was understood.
We reached an intersection at a stop light and stood there waiting. There was a gas station across the street that seemed to glow an ethereal white and it stands out against the weight of the night. And its at that point I started to hear the music. It was muffled and sounded a lower tone further back and comes into focus as it comes up..
“Who shot ya?
Separate the weak from the obsolete
Hard to creep them Brooklyn street
It’s on, Nigga, fuck all that bickering beef…“
So now the car was right next to me. Khiry looks in front of me to see whose in the car. He tilts his head to see through the tinted window to find out if he knows these passengers. I roll my eyes thinking that it might be his friends. I hate his friends. They never get him into nothing but trouble. He keeps trying to convince me not to question ‘our own’. “Deep down, we all realize that we belong together. We just need to give each other the benefit of the doubt sometimes.” I heard his voice speaking in my mind.
Just as he’s analyzing the window, it rolls down. The only thing we could see clearly was the reflection of the white gas station. As the window rolled away, the lights from the station disappeared from view. Through the window, all I saw were the nose lips and chin of the passenger coming through the dense fog of darkness in the car. My grip on K’s arm grew tighter. He mumbled something to us under his breath as he bore his shimmering array of gold fronts, artistically shaped like wolf’s teeth and steadily adorned with diamond chips and diamond cuts. His reddish pink tongue peeked through the mass of his thick, mud colored lips as he licked his fronts. His attention was directed to Khiry.
“Yo, kid! I like your leth’a!” He had on this winter white and brown leather jacket that I had bought for his birthday or maybe I bought it for no reason at all. I don’t quite remember anymore.
Khiry was like “Thank you,” but not really caring. At that point, the light turns green and he pulls me forward to walk. Almost like he thinks I can’t do it myself.
“Yo man!” yelled the kid from the car, ” I think that jacket is butters, but it’d look better on me.” My sweet K, doin’ all he could to avoid any confrontation but not punk out responded, “Yeah, well, that’s your opinion.” Then I felt his gait start to pick up
“I can hear sweat tricklin’ down your cheek“
“Muthafucka, I said I think that shit’d look better on me!!!” This asshole did not give up. This time Khiry just picked up the pace a little more while shaking his head as if to say, “This pitiful brother.” He started to walk quicker and quicker and the lights started to flow around us faster and faster. I started to feel weighty and like I was sinking into the ground.
“Your heartbeat sounds like Sasquatch feet“
The car must have stopped, ’cause the music wasn’t nipping at our heels anymore. A rush of relief started to sweep over me only to be devoured by a wave of horror when I heard…footsteps. “Oh God, not this again!!” I thought to myself. They were rushing at us. Their pounding was taking over the rhythm of everything in my life right then. “Please let them stop, “ I mouthed to myself. But they didn’t. Every heartbeat of mine threatened to be the last, stuttering and skipping to the next beat. They get closer and closer and more urgent with every step. The music, accompaniment to the horrible angry signal they pound out
“Thunderin’, shakin’ the concrete“
I didn’t want to voice how frightened I was to him, because whenever Khiry would hear me start off, he’d cut me off in mid sentence and look into my soul with his deep, velvety brown eyes and say “Baby, ain’t nothin’ to worry about. As long as I’m here, you’ll always be safe and warm. I promise.” But this time when I looked over at him for solace, his eyes were glazed over with a icy coat of fear, masked by a macho front.
My eyes couldn’t focus and kept rolling around in my head. In one second, I never looked at the same thing twice. In desperation, I glanced up at the sky for some comfort. Where’s the moon? My moon!! I thought urgently. I searched for somewhere to go and cover my head and eyes. I cinched K’s jacket and pulled it to me. Then he whirled around, the footsteps ending, bringing the last one to a halt that echoed in my chest. My heart keeps pounding fear up into my ears. They’re gesturing and their mouths are moving but I can’t hear what they’re saying. There’s so much anger between them and fear surrounding us like a cloak in the night. Their voices warp through my ears making them dull moans in my mind so full of rage.
Before I could even realize what was going on, Khiry shoved me away hard. When his hands released contact with me, I still felt them pushing me, pushing me towards the floor. Like they were trying to crush me against the soft concrete. The other kid reached into his jacket. I went to scream, but all that came out were tears. My mouth filled with saltiness as I glanced over at Khiry’s crystallized face. Our eyes met one final time and I glanced down at my stomach. I went to hug my knees to protect my baby when I heard an explosion and a blast of lightning came right at me. I shot straight up in my bed.
Huffing and heaving, the dream drips from my forehead with a frightening intensity. “Wait, this is sweat, right?” I think to myself as I wipe my cheek and analyze the liquid on my hand. Relieved to find that it was colorless, I try to calm my breathing so my heart will stop racing. Just as I got myself to calm down enough to hear through my ears, I heard the creaking of the wooden floor from outside my bedroom. I froze in the middle of the bed. Just listening and preparing. But this time, the steps were soft. Like they were trying to creep near me. I spotted two bright white orbs staring at me in the distance. Shrouded in darkness, the voice came at me, “Baby?” he said, “Baby? Are you alright?”
“My baby is alive. Oh thank God!!” I thought to myself, realizing I was whispering aloud. “Of course I am, sugar lump. I ain’t goin’ nowhere without you.” he said as he was walking into the bedroom. His voice was so soft and tender. I started to cry just being able to hear him speak to me. He was holding a small porcelain tea cup from the china cabinet. It had pink and green tea rose designs on the side and a “24 Karat” gold rim. It is my favorite cup. “I went to get you some water. You were having that nightmare again.” He said worriedly as he bent forward to hand me the cup. Before he had the chance to breathe after finishing the sentence, I threw my arms up around his neck and pulled him to me. I felt trickles of water from the cup against my leg as he almost spilled the cup. I basked in the peaceful, warmth of his cheek and I felt tears still streaming down my face on to his. He sat down next to me and carefully handed me the cup. I cradled the cup in my shaking hands and drank a steady sip, all the while never letting him out of my sight. As he was sitting next to me, he kissed my forehead and caressed my face with the backside of his left hand. I felt the warm gold band smooth across my cheek, reminding me how much I love his tenderness, and I gazed vacantly into his face. I wanted to say so much. I wanted to make sure he knew how I felt about him and never forget. But I stumbled over my words and silence saturated the room. I knew he could feel my struggle and he looked at me with sympathy and said, “C’mon baby, c’mere.” He beckoned me over as he climbed into bed and lured me in to lay my back against his chest. As I nestled myself in his grasp, we looked out into the vastness of the room. The moon cast dreary shadows in the corners and bright streaks of blue white light on everything else. The high ceilings and white washed walls gave the room a never ending look. Over in the corner there were some half-packed boxes and some crates waiting to uncover their contents to the room. Khiry picked this apartment out himself for us five months before we got married.
His warm hands caressed my body; my stomach. I looked down and saw my vacant, abandoned stomach as his hand caressed and reached across the definition of the ripples in my skin.
He rocked me back and forth in his arms. “Shh. It’s okay, baby,” he crooned. “It’s gonna be okay.” There was a pause of silence. I think he could feel how tense and uncomfortable I was and that I was still thinking about this nightmare. He turned me around to look into his eyes “You know I love you, right? And I would give my life for you?” he finally spoke with tenderness and seriousness. “Yes. I love you and can’t live without you.” I responded in a weak reflective voice, but still sounding like a hurt child. “Can I get a hug, baby? Could you hold me?” He asked me. I turned and wrapped myself in his affectionate embrace. I nestled myself in that spot between his arms and his chest that was perfectly specially carved for my body and only my body. The rhythm of our breath in sync started to hum my senses to a lull. I could hear him whispering softly every now and then “I love you Yasia.” I slowly started to feel myself get dizzy and drifting and sinking into his heart. Sleep began to draw my eyes closed. As I felt my breath get deeper and my body begin to repose, I silently prayed, “I hope this isn’t a dream.”