The Stranger

In response to Photo-Fiction #28

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“Back then I was a wild child. Out ’til all hours, moonlight raves, in the nude no less. Once it promised a new experience, I was there. I tried it all, once it was there.If was good I did it again.”

She must have seen the look on my face. I’m sure I looked somewhere between awestruck and mortified.

“How you mean? You think you come lately doing great things? I remember running nude through the botanical gardens, not a stitch. The only thing covering us was the hair God provided. Lighting an effigy in the government yard. And the vigils?” She laughed out loud. A musical sound, that set all the lines of her face in motion, like a road map of all the things she had felt over time. “We had causes back then, real ones. Not them flimsy things y’all argue about now.”

I was still gaping. But no words could come, I couldn’t reconcile the woman in the photo, all laughing and carefree, so much cleavage, with the grey afro and the pride straightened back bone, and the deep, warm, wise voice that came out of my mother’s face. She was statuesque, she required the bowing of heads or bending of knees when she entered a room. This stately woman who had been the subject of my rebellion with her dignified-ness. Now it seemed she could read my thoughts, because she continued.

“I had my fight, I did the radical thing. Then I learned, to look before I leap, to finish the conversation after I made the statement. I learned how to play all the parts needed.” She handed my blouse and looked around the dank cell they had stashed me in. “I came from here too. You’ll get there, some day.”

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