Lying there next to him, sweat slick shoulders and hips touching, she remembered wondering, “What am I supposed to feel now?” And song lyrics…Come and go in a heated rush.
That’s how it had been with him. They’d met outside the theater, each taking the opportunity to catch the last showing of Fresa y Chocolate before the letters and words on the marquee changed. They talked about Cuban cinema, about acceptance and tolerance, about strawberry versus chocolate. Within five minutes they’d been into each other; within five hours he’d been inside her. Just before sleep won over he’d licked her from collarbone to neck to mouth and stated, “Our tongues are the same color,” needing no reply.
She had wondered if she should feel shame or some sort of guilt after venturing into The Taboo with him but could never seem to muster any up, even for the sake of her family, friends, society…whoever…Don't care just what people say, if I should take a notion, to jump into the ocean, ain’t nobody’s business if I do.
Now, turning on her side she threw her leg over his hip and felt the ceiling fan drying the sweat from her thigh, astonished for just a moment that she wished that they could start again from the very beginning… I’m never satisfied, I want the frim fram sauce with the ausen fay, and chafafa on the side…but glad that he was asleep so that she could study him once again. The texture and color of his hair, his features, were different from any man she’d ever been with, so pleasing to her that it made her eyelashes itch.
The moon coming through the blinds gave their exposed skin slanted stripes, some darker, some lighter, that shifted rhythmically every time they made love… Gotta have a man who loves me like a real live Sheik, with a tasty kiss that lingers for a week.
Outside the drug store I heard someone say something about rain, about dense, dark clouds, and remembered the dust storm the day the news arrived. You weren’t coming back and I had to be the one to tell your folks that we’d never again hear the laugh that started in your belly and ended in your eyes, that the fire had been too hot and no matter how hard people tried they couldn’t get close enough to help.
I gained a reprieve that day, had to stay in town to help board doors and windows, search for the neighbor’s cat while watching that black wall of dirt roaring towards us. Waiting in my dark kitchen with a wet kerchief tied round my nose and mouth, I wondered if dust would smother a fire or if the wind that it rode in on would feed the leaping flames. I prayed for the farmers, prayed for rain and wondered if strangers had done the same for you as they paced helplessly, crying out as they watched the blaze.
When I got out to your folks’ house the next day your dad was outside the barn, carefully digging in a drift. He told me he was looking for your old dog Fox, that they weren’t able to get him to come into the house and the dust had surely been too much for his worn out lungs. I told your dad about you and the fire and watched the pain rise in his eyes like smoke till it clouded them. As we walked to the house together he told me it would be best to not mention Fox to your mom just then.
The day we laid you in the ground was a lot like today, with the smell of catfish river in the air, a day when no one needed dark clouds or thunder in the distance to know that rain was coming.
Flint Hills Girl
Golden and strong,
ripe as winter wheat, you lie
in the tall grass, press your hands
to the black soil and wait.
You feel the rhythm of life,
the prairie dogs and voles,
echoes of bison, black bear
that lie just beneath.
Like your ancestors, you choose
to rest here on this ancient
sea bed, as waves of prairie
flowers rock you to sleep.
Robin Lewis lives on the prairie but has never eaten a prairie chicken in her life. She once hitchhiked to Dodge City only to find that the boots in Boot Hill had eroded and disappeared with time. She writes poetry and short fiction, but mostly thinks about finishing her novel.