I drive past a dead president’s house on the way to work every morning. It doesn’t matter which one it is—er, was. I don’t think so, anyway. The point is that it’s hidden on that street, where the ritzy folk of Lancaster insist on calling their homes “quaint” and “colonial” when really each lot holds a stone mansion posing as a countryside cottage with turrets and columns and all of that riff. The president’s house is tucked away neat behind a long lawn checkered with oak trees and moss, looking sleepy and dated behind its dark green shutters. It’s morning when I pass, so the light’s shining in from the back; I catch a ripple of sunlight fracturing through the crystal chandelier.
My fingers drift over the disc as I put the CD to rest in the device. I need not look at the buttons; the process is all too familiar.
My gaze lifts toward my husband. Bruce’s tan hand extends toward me, the calluses from days of hard work glisten in the sunlight from the nearby window. He is in his special tuxedo with white, firm shoulders and red accents. Compared to him, I’m terribly underdressed in a thin red slip, but Bruce doesn’t mind and neither do I.
My hand slides onto his left shoulder blade and our hips adjoin just as the violins begin their crescendo. His arm slips around my back, and we lock hands, his cold hand in my warm one. Bruce takes the first step, and I follow as we coast together in harmony.
“I just think she should have chosen to go out and see the world before she settled down,” Ryan said as he switched lanes.
“She didn’t have to though, she knew what she wanted,” Rebecca replied. “The point of the play was that she knew that nothing she would ever see was going to change her decision.”
The headlights of the car illuminated the lonely road in front of them. At this time of night few cars were out on the highway, although the occasional truck wasn’t rare.
Is there someone we can call? Dr. Martins asked you that question after revealing your test results. There was no response. One, because the only thing that echoed like a beating drum in your ears was that word. HIV. Two, because your mind drew a blank on who to call.
He asked you again, in a gentler tone, his hand on your shoulder. You looked up at him, wishing you heard wrong, wishing there had been some type of mistake. You wanted to curse him out. You wanted to tell him he had the wrong person. Chizoba Agwu couldn’t have HIV. But instead, you told him who to call. Your sister, Chioma.
It started out as a tick on the inside of my thigh. I used to let my nails grow long, so I could better scratch myself. The kind of nails that tear the skin, and make you bleed. My thigh was always bleeding, but I made sure that nobody would see. I wore long skirts and baggy jeans. I stayed away from skinnies because the fabric would rub against my thigh, and I stayed away from short skirts to not gross people out on the subway. Still, I felt everyone could see me. I could feel their eyes burrowing through my clothes to the bleeding, itchy patch on my left thigh, and I would cross my legs tightly together. Avoid the stares and get off at the next stop. I could walk the rest of the way, and the air would do me good.