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  April 2014
volume 11 number 1
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Sarah Francois
April 2014



photo by mauricio alejandro ramos

    Sarah Francois was born and bred in New York. She started off her undergraduate career at NYU where she had the Individualized Study Major she entitled "Social Justice through the Arts". She has been writing since the sixth grade. She has attending writing conferences and workshops like Aspen Summer Words. She finished her undergraduate career with a B.A in English with a concentration in creative writing. She doesn't feel like she chose to write. The work of words chose her much like lightning chooses what to strike. For her, there is no other choice.



Kin and Murder Manual

    My mother has murdered my father on a cold clear day in October. The leaves are falling off trees. I can see the blue sky out my window. Earlier, I could hear the shouting but it ceased as quickly as it started. I thought that was strange. Usually the shouting carried on till noon when my mother had to go grocery shopping. I don’t think they notice me anymore. They’ve stopped asking if I’m attending school. They don’t notice if I’m in the house or not. My name is Jake “Knowledge” Williams and I want you to notice me. I am sitting on this queen-size bed with yellow cotton sheets and I don’t want to leave this room. I know that there is something wrong.
    I place brown hands on marble door. I open the door, I stare past my Carmelo Anthony poster into the hall. It is quiet. That is never a good sign. I enter the living room. The first thing I see is the ivory floral medaliion rug stained with blood. I know the name of the rug because it was an online purchase and my mother begged me to help her place the order. I remember it was an 80 dollar rug. I suppose we’ll have to dispose of it now. It’s sad how my first thought is for the rug and not the man. My father was a good man on weekdays. On weekends, and carrying into Monday sometimes, he lacked self-control. It was this lack of self-control that led to the scene in front of me.
    He was drunk. I smelled the sweet smell of his weekend whiskey before I noticed the knife in mother’s hands. Of course, I thought. Of course. It was only natural that she would want to end this. I wonder how long she thought of this. I wondered if she lay awake at night planning an end to this. My poor mother. Her caramel skin was bruised black and her lips bleeding but her face still like she didn’t realize what had happened. That was the shock of it. My mother had murdered my father, and stood stock still above him her bare feet drenched in blood on the rug staring in his eyes like he could see her. And I merely turned around and walked out the front door.
    Yes, I know. How could I abandon my mother at such a time? Wasn’t this the moment where teenage sons swept in and took blame or rescued or did something. I went over to Sheila’s. Sheila lives in the housings five blocks away. We met in school. Even though my father was a wealthy real estate mogul and my mother a formidable homemaker, she wanted me to go to public school to have the “regular” experience. That’s where I met Sheila. Sheila and I had been friends all through the years. But when I turned sixteen in the month of February, we were reading this book about passing for white and I asked Sheila to be my high-yellow love. She laughed and said yes.
    I climbed up the fire escape and shimmied in through Sheila’s window. Yeah, I know it's cold, but Sheila always left the window cracked on Mondays. Her mother has ceased to notice my presence, but I keep climbing in through the window just in case church gives a seminar on controlling your family or something inspires her to become a better mom. Anyways, lying on Sheila’s table with the mirror is a pregnancy test. I recognize it instantly because it’s been featured in all my nightmares. The moment of truth has apparently come. Sheila bolts into the room clad only in a towel. I don’t even say hi. I pick up the test and wave it emphatically on the brink of freaking out.
    “Baby calm down, have a seat, chill out baby.”
    I sat down on the brown coverlet and started to cry. My father was lying dead in my living room and my girl was holding a positive pregnancy test. I can’t handle this.
    "Baby can you tell me what the hell is going on?"
    "We’re having twins."
    Those were the only words I could speak before I curled up on her bed sobbing. Sheila is a great girl. One day she would be a great woman but this right here threatened to break both of us in half.
    “Baby, calm down.”
    She lay next to me. Patting my back.
    "It’s okay baby. It’ll be ok. Your dad isn’t going to care."
    Well she had part of that right. My dad wasn’t going to care. He would be buried by Wednesday. My mother would probably be in prison soon. Perhaps we could hit the courthouse today. Maybe I could do that apply to be an independent thing. I mean, my birthday was in four months.
I wondered if I should tell her. I thought that would not be good. Sheila isn’t exactly the calmest project chick in the bunch. She’s not a ride or die. She’s a sensitive queen which is why I like her. That, and she knew who my dad was. She knew how black he was on the inside. It was the same kind of black her father was before he took off when they were eleven. She knew that he was a lucrative man, but she had memorized the way her face looked radiant and unmarred. She wouldn’t, she couldn’t live through it again.
    I wish I knew what to do. I wish I had a manual. I could look into the index manual under “what to do when your mother kills your father and your girlfriend is pregnant" or maybe it would be under the title Countdown to Graduation: When Everything Falls Apart.

copyright 2014 Sarah Francois