Some Feet Not Meant for Shoes - Novel Excerpt
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“And how do you know it will speak to me?” I ask Falcon, staring at his dark face, lit only by the night sky. He doesn’t answer, just takes the spliff from my hands and hits it again. When he exhales, I can feel his breath on my shoulders, behind my ears, down my neck. It goes between my legs, and this stuns me.
“How old you are, Norah?” he asks. I can nearly touch his curiosity. It is thick, like a rain cloud near ready to burst.
I am 35, I answer honestly, proudly in fact. First time. My sister would’ve given anything to see 35. The day will come again when I won’t be quite so proud, but I will fight it. With awareness one can fight anything, it seems.
“Are you very wild?” he asks me, “cause you seem like you belong in bush. I&I belong in bush. When Falcon was in England to visit girlfriend,” he says, turning his body around and pointing his finger back toward the restaurant, “she didn’t much like I&I cause I&I not really Falcon. I&I have to wear shoe in England,” he says, lifting up his feet, showing me the calluses on the sole of first one, then the other. He takes my hand and rubs it along his foot bottom. There are spots on it that seem hard and rough and chalky like weathered old brick.
“Some foot not meant for shoe,” he says, hitting the weed, holding his breath and a cough with it, passing me the spliff. He blows the smoke out fast and hard, as if to clear it all from his lungs, as if to clean it all out. “Rastaman couldn’t stay very long in England. Nothing was alive in England. Not the houses, not the sea, not the streets, not even the people. Everything cold and damp and quiet quiet. Is America very much like England?” He takes his T-shirt off, sticks it in his back pocket where it hangs down as though it were a gang symbol. He looks real cool like this, real familiar like this. It is almost as though I have seen him this way before with his shirt hanging from his pocket, but how could that be?
I am very high, so high, dizzy and light and I can answer, but I don’t want to talk, don’t want to hear my own voice. I just want to touch him, his dreadlocks, his muscular legs, the hardness of his upper arms, his intense face. He smells of coconut and marijuana. And desire, he smells of that too in all its rankness. His body is a rock, and I want to hide beneath it, to bury myself beneath it. My sister died of cancer not even half a dozen years ago, while I was still very much in mourning over the death of my brother. And my life with Vincent has become suddenly muted since the baby came. He hardly ever reads a book, and watches so much television that he knows the characters there better than he knows me or even wants to know me. The dead are gone to dust, he says, no use crying over it anymore. You have got your own family now, he says. You are a wife and a mother yourself, he says. Get on with it, get on with it, he says.
If it weren’t for these trips to the West Indies that will become more frequent and longer every year, there’d be very little to grow me. And everything needs growing. If it doesn’t grow it becomes routine, like a habit. Even the company that makes Fig Newtons has got to grow. If it doesn’t offer strawberry, or apricot, the thing goes stale. You get enough figs after awhile. It doesn’t take any thought after awhile. You hardly even notice the yellow- striped packaging. You remember the flavor so well you don’t even have to eat them anymore. Fig Newtons with figs, that is. Mango, now that is something Nabisco might try. Tropical fruit, I imagine, watching Falcon’s back as I drag myself in closer behind him. I stumble and fall forward against him, feeling the hot of the skin on his bare back. It is almost like a dance the way we keep ourselves standing, the way I push, the way he holds himself steady against all of my falling weight. It is innocent, the fig leaf and all that, but for the mango.