Each Friday on WrittenVoicesBlog.com, we will be featuring guest authors. Our theme for this month is “A Taste of Romance.” Today, Linda Hargrove, author of Loving CeeCee Johnson and The Making of Isaac Hunt, joins us. Linda also provided the story in audio for your listening pleasure.
by Linda Leigh Hargrove
From my window, I see her. With my fingers splayed in mid-thought across some dry plat drawings and my bare forearms aching from drafting all day, I lean closer to the window pane and long for the sensation of her breath, soft against my ear, whispering to me.
But she’s whispering instead to Sara, the sister-in-law I never really wanted. She’s good to my brother though, even in her emptiness. Many times I wonder about her motives.
Like right now. Sara leans toward the woman, strange and strangely beautiful, then she covers her mouth and laughs at the the woman’s whispered joke. I puzzle at what Sara’s trying to prove to the woman, to the onlookers even, by parking my brother’s Porsche on the street. She could have easily left in the garage. And that stupid handbag, for goodness sake. All of it – that car, that handbag, and my mindless sister-in-law, standing out like a flaming beacon from two buildings away and two stories down.
# # #
I see Sara’s beautiful friend everywhere. There she is now walking from the fruit vendors market. It’s Saturday. Early November and very warm. Too hot to be out walking in her condition. Her belly is big now. I can’t continue to lie to myself. She nears a small tree. Red leaves cling to its spindly branches. A breeze showers her with leaves. She stops. Even from my perch at my window I can see her smile. She clutches at the air and catches a leaf. For a long time she stands under the tree, the leaf pressed to her nose. Such an amazing smile. Oh, that I could smell the leaf too. And then to trace its veins with my finger as I press it against her palm – happy with the gift of a leaf and her smile.
# # #
I call Sara and ask her about her mysterious weekly meetings at the café, a stone’s throw from my office, a stone’s throw from the ‘hood. "Oh," she says, "So you’ve seen me with Diamond?" "I worry about your safety," I half-lie. "Loosen up, Seamus,” Sara says.
She thinks I’m a bigot. She’s told me as much before. "Diamond and I are helping each other,” she continues, "I’ve helped her get accepted into the crisis pregnancy center. She’s made an adoption plan and …" I let Sara’s voice go unchecked in my ear.
I can see her down there now. Diamond. She has come to the café alone this afternoon. She’s sat in a corner and has started writing in a small black book, the captured leaf pressed to her nose. She’s smiling again. I cradle the phone on my shoulder and push my work aside.
Sara’s voice on the phone softens. She speaks of the grace of God and rebirth. Words I’ve never heard come out of her mouth. Words that would spark a happy curiosity in my heart on any other day. But today I can only sit and watch the sun play across the tender curves of Diamond’s face, along the throat, and down across her fullness to where a man like me should never go. But go, I do. And I don’t feel bad.
I pretend she is mine. My Diamond. I let myself fly two stories down and two buildings away. I go quickly like a leaf on a rush of air to that wonderful place in my heart where it doesn’t matter that I’m white and she’s not.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Linda Hargrove blends suspense, humor, and faith into compelling stories about race and class in America. Her published writings include two novels: The Making of Isaac Hunt (June 2007) and Loving Cee Cee Johnson (September 2008).
The former environmental engineer currently resides in Greensboro, North Carolina with her husband and three sons where she operates 1721 Media, LLC, a graphic design company catering to small and medium sized nonprofits and small businesses. Visit her online at www.LLHargrove.com.