Did I feel claustrophobic? Yes. Yes, of course. My everyday life had become a constricted space saturated with a jumble of papers and hangers with nothing much on them, clothes on the floor and earrings under the bed. I felt that a nervous breakdown was coming gradually and certainly. I ransacked the whole apartment, cried in my high school notes of the Dative declension in Latin. I neither liked nor disliked Latin and had no particular nostalgia linked to the notes in question. Still, it had to get worse, a lot worse. My mother constantly calling me and proposing to come clean for me. That in itself, a proof I still had not achieved the autonomy I had longed for since I was old enough to understand the concept. I put on a brave face, that was my reflex, smile, head held high, hide it, from others, from myself. The panic attack came after one of those telephone conversations that lasted a lifetime. The moment I hung up, I started seeing spots, lied down on the kitchen floor, cold sweats, the whole familiar “shabang”. I crawled to my “in case of emergency” black chocolate. Deep excruciating breaths, all is well, I said out loud. Next day, I got up around 1 pm. The heat was excruciating, one of the hottest summers documented in years. I put on a Cher playlist, took one of those huge garbage bags that always make me think of burying a body and started throwing in all the emotional baggage and clutter holding me captive. I put on rubber gloves and started scrubbing the floor, using too much detergent, soaking with sweat and screaming to the song “I Walk Alone”, albeit with improvised lyrics. It never used to bother me before, my disorganised life, but as I smelled the disinfectant and looked around I understood, I was scared of what it would mean to start again, a clean slate.

Story by Gala


Sucy came in without a knock and announced that May’s brother was outside. Jamie rose with her and walked her to the door. They hugged each other like they kissed the elders during Sunday service then bid each other goodbye. Jamie cut the light and lay in her bed making out the glitter in her ceiling. She lifted her hand and drew loops and turns into the ceiling. She dropped her hand to admire the curlicues in the air. They fell onto her lips like light rain. So fine. So fine. So so so-o-o-o. In song she turned to face the window peeking through the squint of the curtain. She looked into cut of the sky behind the stretched roof tops and watched the clouds float by, counting them. She noticed pale shadows against the yellow light in the Robinson’s sitting room. They were dancing again, slow and close, like old love. Jamie sat up straight to watch them behind a daydream.
“You watchin’ that boy again?” Her daydream was interrupted by the checking voice of Sucy. She turned to see her sister standing at the door she knew she closed. Jamie matched her tone. “Can I help you?”

“Your mama said go eat.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Tell her yourself.” Jamie glared at the doorway. “You know he don’t want you,” she challenged. “He go with that girl Keasha…and Terri…and Sasha. He even mess wit that white girl Alex. You know he like white girls?” Jamie couldn’t think of anything to say. She cocked her head in a who-asked-you manner and snarled.

“I’m just sayin’,” Sucy responded before spinning about-face with the satisfaction of a willow in the wind. Jamie stood and marched to the door. She had half a mind to lock it but she knew better, and slammed it instead. Always comin’ in here, she thought plopping back onto the edge of her bed, and she never close my damn door. The shadows of her neighbors no longer danced and the clouds she counted floated far along. She laid down, thinking of things she could’ve said.

Story by Rodjyna Beauvile

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