On Writing: Short Short Fiction

I’m trying to write a little short fiction every week. I honestly have shied away from writing fiction because it is so much more personal to me. It is easy to write a short essay on a current event or a blurb about fashion, aging, and lifestyle but what I want and who I want to be is tied up in fiction.  I wrote this short fiction earlier today and I’m nervous about sharing it but I wouldn’t be much of a lion if I didn’t step out of this comfort zone, now would I.

Please feel free to critique or make suggestions.

2008

“He simply doesn’t have the experience and I just don’t trust he’s strong enough to get the country out of this Bush hole.”
“And you believe Sarah Palin can do that?” She yelled.

“Well–she’s not running for President, McCain is but she does have experience running an office. At least she’s a governor.”

“She’s a fucking idiot.” She shot back. It would become very clear of how much of an idiot she truly was in the weeks ahead but neither of them knew that yet.

He laughed to ease the tension.

“Then how could you vote for her or McCain for that matter when you say you would vote for Hilary?”

He sighed. He didn’t understand why there had to be a fight about him not liking Obama. He didn’t know why, it was just something about him he felt in his core he didn’t like. He thought it was true what the right said. He was an elitist. He admitted only to a close friend he hated Obama’s walk. “…like he is bopping to a rap tune or something.”  He laughed. “He’s so not presidential.”

“Yes, I would vote for Hilary but I’m not a Democrat. She knows how things work and I did like Bill. Obama is just too green. He just came out of nowhere.”

“They are both democrats with similar agendas while McCain…you can’t be serious about voting for him?” Her voice was rising as it tended to do whenever the discussion turned to political affiliation.

He shrugged.

She sat stonewalled unable to comprehend her personal disappointment in him.

#

He didn’t vote for Obama or McCain, he chose not to make the effort. When he jokingly told her he forgot to vote she rolled her eyes and walked away.

When MSNBC announced Obama won the election he listened from the other room as she whooped and hollered. Immediately she called her sisters to celebrate never saying a word to him. It was like he was not there. He kissed her face and congratulated her win because he understood it was a win for her. She continued celebrating with her sisters not acknowledging him and he went off to bed.

#

She couldn’t understand his reluctance to vote for Obama. It infuriated her beyond words when he chose not to vote at all. His indifference was offensive. Her sisters reminded her that his ancestors never had to fight for the right to vote. Issues important to her would not be as urgent to him. She heard ‘that’s what you get for dating a white man’ in their tone. They all went to the inauguration as a family, her sisters, their husbands, and her parents. He chose to stay home and go to work.  She was happy he did but furious at the same time. Her offer to have him join them was less than inviting.

#

“No president, alive or dead has ever suffered the disrespect President Obama has. They hate him because he is a black man in the White House.” She let her IPad hit the table a bit too hard and he jumped.

“That’s just politics. They treated Clinton just as bad. It’s not personal.”

“Are you kidding me? You really believe it’s just politics and nothing personal against this black man?”

She put prominence on black, knowing lately, he tried hard to avoid anything about race. She emphasized purposely to make him uncomfortable.

She wanted him to share in her fury against the GOP, the teabaggers and every racist that dared to put a picture of the President in a noose or put an ape face to the First Lady. He didn’t understand the more they attacked him the more it felt personal to her. The GOP purposely trying to block any advance he tried to make was not just politics as usual.  His indifferent shrug infuriated her.

“I don’t see this as a color issue.” He said.

“Then you are being purposefully obtuse.” She said. “It’s a black and white issue. White people hate seeing a black man leading this country.”

#

He knew when the verdict came in that it would be another invisible indictment against him even though he really did share her outrage just not as loudly as she would like. No kid deserved to be shot just because he is walking home and defending himself against an asshole wannabe cop. She told him he couldn’t feel as she did because he was not black. Ten years together and his lack of blackness was now a huge problem. She was annoyed all the time now. Her anger lived in a place he was sure he was welcomed at one time. It was an unwanted paying tenant he could not evict because it was not his house it was hers. Every offense against a person of color was her personal crusade against the white establishment and he knew his whiteness was starting to offend her. He longed for the days before Obama, before two thousand eight. It wasn’t like this in the beginning, in the before.

#

They both loved the skin of the other. He was bewitched by her brownness, so foreign from his own. She was the only black woman he’d ever been with and she was much more beautiful than he knew he deserved. He knew it because he saw the looks of other men whenever he walked in a room with her on his arm. She made his chest puff with pride but she was more than a beautiful woman she was funny and smart but mostly she was happy. He found her happiness remarkable, he truly never knew a woman to have so much joy within her. He loved her for that.  She was like sunshine then but these days she was a brooding dark and cloud.

She loved the way he looked at her, like she was the most special woman on the planet. He was not the first white man she’d dated but he was the first she ever felt true love from. What she loved most was he always put weight to her opinions. He often asked how she felt about a situation and would take her advice greedily. He said she was probably the smartest woman he knew. Men didn’t say things like that often. She felt their union was a true partnership. She didn’t believe anything could come between them but everything outside of their home made it harder to find happiness with him in these days. America was a country built on invasion and it now it invaded her peace and her relationship. Everything was before. She was happy before, they were happy before, she loved him before…before 2008.

Lying next to him hearing the slight whisper of his breath she understood the racial problems of the world were not his fault but it still made it hard for her to look at him. The world made it hard for her to say I love you so freely like she used to. His kisses lost the pleasure they once had. If she could lock them into a small world of just their own they could go back to their happy before but…she sighed at the impossibility of everything. There was little intimacy left in their relationship these days but she shocked herself by laying her face on his chest. He stirred a little and she drew back some unsure of what to say or do if he woke up. She’d been selfish with her body and her feelings. She’d become mean. She wish she were kinder and could just walk away from him but a big part of her needed someone to punish for Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Jamal Crawford, and now for Tamir Rice. He was her prisoner in a race war where he just began to figure out he was fighting in his own home. She laid her hand over his heart, feeling the rhythm of its beat and wondered if she could ever be deeply in love with him again.

#

It startled him when he felt her head on his chest. He was hesitant to wake and hold her so he just pretended to be asleep. Earlier that evening she watched the grainy video of Tamir Rice on her IPad and cried for hours and when he tried to hold her she pushed him away.

“John, you just don’t understand.”  She wept.

“No, I do.” He tried to soothe. He understood #BlackLivesMatter and he believed this child’s life did matter but what did she want him to do?

He said nothing more that evening. He didn’t want his outrage to be taken as patronizing. He hated these things were happening but he hated the effect it was having on her more. He couldn’t save the world. He was not the person who joined in Marches or debated about life’s injustices. He didn’t get into conflicts on Huffington Post or Black Twitter. He visited Barstool Sports and that was pretty much it. He just lived his life and wanted people to live theirs and before 2008 he had a very happy life.

“They’ll be digging up Facebook post of him using the F word and his mediocre grades to blame him for getting killed.” She said.

He felt the weight of her words directed at him. He didn’t know why there were marches for men who were doing illegal things and were shot. Maybe if they weren’t committing a crime he tried to explain one day and it ended very badly. He tried to understand her feelings but they were so far apart now.

He woke in the morning still feeling the weight of her head on his chest. Most days he wondered if they would make it. But she laid her head on his chest and that meant something. He wondered if she would let him hug her and would it be enough to make a bridge. He smelled coffee and breakfast and heard her fumbling with pans and timidly walked into their kitchen.

“Good morning Fatima.”

She smiled.

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