Some Feet Not Meant for Shoes - Novel Excerpt
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Now I had never thought for one moment about desperation, not when my brother was missing, not when my sister was dying, not as long as I can remember. Maybe it had come once or twice as a mood or an intense kind of desire, but it would pass as suddenly as it came about, and leave me with nothing really to show for it. It was always passive in a sense and not active. What would make me twist my hair and twitch my knees, and grind my teeth all through the night? And what would make me follow a strange young man with dreadlocks away from my safety, away from the stability of everything that I knew? I had followed men before, doctors, accountants, men with a bit of ambition and little imagination, most all of them white and middle class. Where I had gone with them had not been uncomfortable or disorienting or painful really, not in any earth-shaking way, except for the drunk. One place was pretty much the same as the other, except for the drunk. Like eating Fig Newtons all your life.
No I had never, quite honestly, never thought myself desperate before, except when I was with the drunk and out of control, but I was thinking it now. Oh yes, I was thinking it now, again. The metaphysician will be very pleased about this. In fact, he will be elated about this. Desperation leads to change, he will tell me. And change is very good, especially when it’s transformative. There must have been some valid reason then why I married the drunk. Some first-rate reason then too for all of that running in the very opposite direction. Restlessness didn’t have to be a lifelong affliction, I vowed once. With Vincent I would cure it. Cure it, I would, and not look back.
Closed my eyes, I did, to looking back. Threw most all of those stiletto heels away. Oh I kept the Charles Jordan suede ones though.
“Tomorrow,” Falcon says, “I&I teach baby daughter to swim in the sea, like St. Lucian babies, and tonight,” he says, coming nearer to me than I am suddenly comfortable with. “Tonight, Falcon make Norah music tapes for free.” He puts his shirt on and pulls his dreadlocks out from the back of it. They cover his shoulders like fraying ribbons.
I can feel my feet take every step, one in front of another, as I walk back toward the restaurant with Falcon close at my side. Our silence is lyrical–just the night breeze on the high tide to mark it. Neither of us has been missed, not really. Nothing lost and everything gained. If everything is what you are after, which I was, but which I didn’t know.
When you are desperate you are struggling, tossing things about, turning them over and rethinking them at least. And when you are desperate you are passionate at least. And you would do just about anything and you would do it frantically too. I would take desperation over emptiness any day. If that is what I am. If that is what I am. Did I say emptiness? Well I didn’t feel empty, not then, not just yet anyway.
“Did you have a nice walk?” my husband asks me from the center of a lively group of full and oh-so-happy tourists. He seems tipsy and bit loud but not altogether drunk. “Yes, I did,” I tell him, eyeing my baby asleep in the stroller and covered up to her neck with a thin blanket. “Yes, very nice.” He hands me a small bowl of sliced-up papaya and a fork. I take a piece with my fingers and let it slide into my mouth. “It’s good,” I say to my husband as the fruit melts into a burst of nectar on my tongue. He offers some to Falcon. The Rasta holds his hand on his heart and then takes one piece of bright yellow fruit and puts it into his mouth, sucks on it for a moment or two before he chews, swallows.