Turquoise eye shadow, edged with black winged eyeliner, Loretta puckers her nude glossy lips, smiling in the bathroom mirror. Fluffing up her curly Afro, she twists side to side to capture the best angle of her beige, short-sleeve jacket and bell bottoms, a salmon top beneath, all held together by a stark belt. The same outfit they met in, open-toe heels and all.
The smile slowly fades as reality sets in: it’s not like Christopher would notice, he was either too tired, or caught up with some work from the office. It’s their nine-year anniversary, and yet somehow he’d botch it up.
She takes glances at the napkin beside her makeup set, a blueberry resting atop. Her saving grace. Out of all the French Quarter, she placed her faith in Crazy Al—albino negro-spiritual dread-head. He’d been trying to sell her this ‘magical blueberry’ at the neighborhood shop, always on and on about “It’ll make what you see in your sleep come true.” A berry to make her dreams come true.
Loretta bursts out in laughter. It’s ridiculous Louisiana voodoo. The only thing keeping the pearl ring on her finger was the longsuffering of the Holy Spirit. She plopped the berry in her mouth, humoring the ‘magic.’
Leaving the bathroom, she went to the spotless kitchen, smoky entrails of vegetable gumbo and an oversized leg of lamb wafting into her nostrils. Their favorite ever since they stood under that arbor in New Orleans. She grit her teeth, recalling the subtle glowers at her and Christopher, eyes putting a tag over them; negro and negro-lover. It’s probably why his side of the family avoided dinners at their villa.
The door creaked, a fatigued groan echoing down the hall. Christopher’s signature. Loretta called him in for dinner, but he passed the kitchen straight, giving her the same response as any other day: “Pack some up for me baby, I’m headed to bed.”
Loretta’s head tilted, bewildered. Did he not know what today was? Carrying the warm leg of lamb to their room, she figured he just needed a bit more convincing. Narrowed slits scanned over him, asleep in their bed: suit and tie not even taken off, lipstick sloppily smeared on his lips and a lace panty sticking out his breast pocket like a handkerchief.
Loretta’s eyes twitch, remorse making her jaw clench. Not even the decency to try and hide it. The scarlet letter bored into his forehead. This is why he doesn’t touch her the same way. This is why she feels alone while he sleeps right beside her. This is what she shoulders the resentment of his KKK of a family for.
Gently resting the tray of lamb on her nightstand, mounds of distaste protrude from her head like a tumor.
All Loretta musters is a smile, as always.
James Baldwin’s words at UC Berkeley played on the Philco-Ford, merely white noise.
Lifting the leg of lamb overhead, she brings it down to his face, a crunch filling the room. His nose blue and twisted, he tried to shriek, smothered by the leg once more. Dissatisfied, Loretta pounded his face in again, his skull inverted to that of a pear, blood spotting her clothes. It rained down on him again, Christopher no longer moving, the crack of bone music to her ears.
“If you wanted a divorce, you should’ve said that.”
The madness that consumed her waned, horrified eyes staring at the bludgeoned body. The leg of lamb dropped on the floor with a thud. She felt the stares from behind. Peeking over her shoulder, Christopher’s immediate family shuddered in fear, his mother soundlessly screaming.
She turned back to Christopher’s corpse, the mirage fading. There wasn’t lipstick on his lips or panties in his breast pocket, only a bouquet poking out from beneath her pillow.
Crazy Al was right. It’s exactly what she saw in her sleep. A nightmare.