By: Shamar English
The room is the exterior of a muddy tan truck. The walls are a labyrinth of cracks, dirt, chipped paint, and protruding nails. The carpet is sitting underneath pounds of grunge, vomit stains, mildew, crud, hair, paper, and crumbs. The closet mirrors are dirtier than the inside of a dumpster. The gray dresser has more scratches than the walls in bathroom stalls. The radiator is under black and brown fungus with subtle white streaks. The baby blue lamp is dusty and missing its lamp shade.
Something miniscule, transparent, and wet patters like a metronome on my forehead. A slow, consistent drip drops from a large yellowish-brown stain on the ceiling. I awake with bloodshot red eyes, sit up, and gaze at the ceiling then the bed. My sheets are damp like a beach towel.
The ceiling is peeling like dry pieces of paper Mache. Thin pieces of scotch tape covering it hang from the ceiling like strands of spider web. The whole room smells like saltwater and seaweed.
I overhear pouring outside, depart from the waterbed, peer out the window, and see rain showering down like miniature meteorites. The yellowish-brown stain gets wetter, expands, and expands, the funky aroma gets stronger. “When it rains, it pours” I say over and over as drops of water continue to fall from the ceiling, like a leaky faucet, as the sky flashes and rumbles, another long dark stormy day.
The old woman roams through the house in her pajamas, house coat, and slippers. She never vacates the house and knows everything that happens to her neighbors’ like Jean Grey, but she does not possess any special powers. She only has secret windows: bedroom windows, bathroom windows, but her favorites are the kitchen windows.
She camps out in the kitchen windows for hours peeking through the blinds as a watcher even when the kitchen is a pig sty. The dishes resemble mountains sitting on the pantries, stove, kitchen table, and in the sink. The trash is running over like an avalanche.
She takes a bathroom break than returns to the windows. The woman stays in the windows more than she watches lifetime, MSNBC, and CNN.
She bounces from room to room for the best vantage point, cuts off all the lights at the twilight to peek through the blinds. Her kids are trying to break her nasty little habit, but they roll snake eyes every time. She always says, “I do what I want. Shit, I am your mother. You don’t tell me what to do.”
Nothing happens on her street without her knowing. Peeping mom has a problem. Peeping mom, a nosy old woman, knows all and sees all like omniscient force.
Sophomore year, the embarrassment remains stationary in the mind. I do not understand why she would do that to me. I really liked her, but I am not going to say love. It is too strong of a word to use for a fifteen-year-old boy. I am not Cory Matthews, yet my feelings were stronger than lust for her. I know this because I am familiar with the functions of me, my feelings, my mind, and my heart.
Her name was Shelby. She was petite with long black hair and big brown eyes that could make your heart melt. She had the warmest smile, which could make the coldest day feel like Tahiti. We had been dating for two weeks, exactly fourteen days, until she wrote me a love letter. I only read it once, not twice, just once.
My mother found the love letter with Shelby’s phone number written on it, in the back pocket of my jeans. What came next was not my worst nightmare, but my worst reality, an unbearable moment. She used the number to call Shelby’s mother.
I could not do anything, stagnated by the embarrassment and fear as I listened to them converse over the phone. Apparently, she wasn’t supposed to be dating either.
The next day at school, Shelby was cold like a polar icecap. She told all her friends, they told the whole sophomore class and she never spoke to me again. And just like that I experienced heartbreak for the first time, it hurt more than a punch in the gut. I can still hear the mean girls in class giggling and gossiping about me. I wish evanescent would devour this thought.
I loved my grandmother like my favorite grandmother, but I was not one of my grandmother’s favorite grandchildren, loved some better than the others, sad to say.
I loved my grandmother, but she was a habitual liar with a colorful imagination. She once tried to convince me that Michael Jackson was my cousin, though I was young and naïve, I still perceived the absurdity behind it, laughing it off without hearing the punchline.
I loved my grandmother, even though she hated my mother and treated her like a pariah.
I loved my grandmother, even though she celebrated family reunions without my family and me.
I loved my grandmother, even though she would spread horrible rumors around the town about my family.
I still loved my grandmother after she left offensive messages on our answer machine, calling us evil and wishing us misfortune.
I still loved my grandmother even though she never bought me anything for birthdays or Christmases.
I loved my grandmother even though she was color struck, did not think much of anyone with dark skin. She would put a little bit of bleach in her grandchildren’s bath water to make their skin tone lighter.
I loved my grandmother despite her vindictive and wicked tendencies.
I loved my grandmother even though she never acted like much of a grandmother to my siblings and me.
I loved my grandmother even though she never showed a slight concern for my well-being.
I loved my grandmother even though she never really loved me.
I loved my grandmother despite all her despicable acts, because she was my grandmother, but I loathed all her despicable acts.
I hear these words in my head, rattling around like spare change. To think someone is conveying words to me in a voluble tone is pseudo. Could that be the actual explanation? I can hear an inner voice, another inner voice, because it is not my inner voice. Those are the only times that I wish humming and buzzing would emerge in my head.
The voice will not give me peace, not a second, jamming insane-sane thoughts into my cranium. I do not know, purpose or logic, of the voice undermining my inner voice. It appears, disappears, but never for too long. The only time I find peace, most of the time, is when the migraines and headaches expand in my head. They are painful and excruciating, around and around the hypothetical pins and razor blades go inside my skull, maximizing my splitting headache, wishing there was some way to release the pressure, expel the pressure.
I do not recognize this calm, pitched voice in my head. The things it is says about my family, people, and me are heinous. My inner voice argues with it, the spars last longer than sixty minutes, for karma, who controls my fate. I do not want karma to hear these things and confuse them with my inner thoughts. Those are not my inner thoughts, those are someone’s inner thoughts. I do not know what to do. I need something, something bad, something like a divine intervention, or just a regular intervention. I do not know where the voice is coming from, but I do know it is not from a higher power.