Of Colored, Dignified Tongues Conference:

Two Prompts:
"Mischief" and "Trauma"

Marie Artap


Mischief

It was the easiest thing in the world to do, reaching over for the heavy textbook I had no intention of purchasing, and slip it into my bag, my hands doing all the walking and I none of the talking. 

It was the easiest thing to do, to think it could be like a library. I would slip back in again, next Tuesday, smile at the manager, my co-worker, and then to myself. I could always return it, and nothing had to mean anything. And anyway, there was no money to be given, the transaction merely a temporary state, and my palm wrapped around the binding, fingernails pressing to the cover page. I needed it now, but not later, never later. I had no money. My last paycheck had been a scrawny $87.51, not enough for me to straighten my back.

I would bring it back, I promised myself. I would return it. The weight of the book was heavy in my bag.

I did not come back.

Trauma

Give Me A Reason: Cher Musico; appeared in TAYO ISSUE 3.

She had said her hands hurt, and that they always hurt. My mother lay in bed, her body frail and inert, her breathing loud and labored. Despite the heat radiating from her body as I leaned in close enough to sweat, she was always shivering cold.

I picked up her hands, my fingers rubbing them, tracing over the map of her lifeline. Her hands felt so light. I worked over the knuckles too, holding each individual one between my thumb and index. Her eyes half-closed, she was malleable to my touch.

Her entire body still ached though, her voice a cracked whisper. My eyes swelled, but I kept my breathing even. What do you want me to do? I asked and moved my palms over to rub her pained legs. For a moment, I wondered if I could contain it, herd the damage into one location and excise it.

By now, she had fallen asleep, the labor of her breathing filling the room. I kept going till my own arms ached with tire, and once my shoulder burned long enough to stop me, I stilled.

Then, very gently, I brought my hand up to touch the baldness of her head, biting my lip to keep my breath in, as if that was enough to let her breathe easy again once more.


Marie Artap participated in the Of Colored, Dignified Tongues: Writing Conference in Spring 2013. She was an editorial staff member for {m}aganda Magazine and is graduating from the University of California, Berkeley.