The other night I dreamed I was five months pregnant. Sitting in the back of a cab, my huge belly pressed down on me while I looked at a severance check. The cabbie drove me around for a while. Then I stopped at a building, went inside to use the restroom, and stared at my reflection in a wide mirror.
When I woke up I reached for my belly. I was startled. I knew my dream wasn’t literal, but I felt so uneasy.
It’s a metaphor, I know. The severance check symbolism isn’t lost on me either. An ending leading to a beginning. Something is growing within me, around me, for me. What is it though? An opportunity? A thing? A person? An idea?
I saw my grandpa a few weeks ago. Despite him not being of this world any more I can say with 100% certainty it was him.
I was outside with my dog on one of our jaunts around the neighborhood. He was being particularly curious taking his time sniffing the ground looking for the perfect spot. I followed behind him at a slow clip, nothing too much on my mind when I noticed an older Black man getting out of his car, gathering his grocery bags. He was dressed like he’d just come from somewhere important. A meeting, church . Sharp arctic grey suit, pressed and fitting well. His tie was a goldenrod yellow with a sheen to it.
Instantly I thought of my grandpa Oliver. Us kids called him Boop.
He was an impeccable dresser. Unafraid of color, keen on what looked good on him and what didn’t. My grandpa turned heads with every step. Even in his grass cutting clothes.
The way this well dressed man looked in his suit wasn’t the only thing familiar to me. When we made eye contact I noticed he held a striking resemblance to my grandpa. He had a strong, clean-shaven jaw, bright brown eyes, a crease of lines in his forehead. His smooth carob colored skin looked moisturized and clean. Even his salt and pepper mini fro was the way my grandpa wore his hair. Full and neat.
“Hello, young lady,” he said to me. Warm energy carried his voice. “How are you?”
A stranger’s voice can be a gateway to a memory, to a feeling, in the same way a favorite song can transport you. The rhythm, tone, melody can make you feel safe and loved even from afar.
“Hello. I’m wonderful. I hope you are.”
“I sure am. Thank you.”
“I have to say, that’s a sharp suit. You look very nice.” I refrained from telling him that he reminded me of my grandpa.
“Thank you. Thank you very much.” He smiled and told me to have a good evening. I nodded assuring him I would.
Ahead of me my dog tugged on the leash and I reluctantly took a few steps away from the man. I stepped into the grass where my dog licked at blades of grass and what I saw made me laugh. It was an angel.
A large paperclip had been folded into an angel. It was adorned with a pearly white head and a red ribbon. I picked it up and stared at it while my dog tried to urge me forward. Over my shoulder the man gathered the last of his bags and moved away from the parking lot toward one of the buildings.
“I see you, Boop. I miss you, too.”
I held the paperclip angel in my hand and continued the walk. Every time I glanced down at the angel in my hand I smiled. Not just on my face, but in my soul. I hadn’t realized that I needed that symbol, that acknowledgement from the universe that I am loved and cared for. That this world is holding space for me and I am supported.
My angel now resides just inside my door. I like to think of it protecting me and my home. I see it every time I leave and when I come inside. I even speak to it sometimes.
Here’s a snippet of an interview I did with Black Lesbian Literary Collective as a part of their new series. The full version will be available in BLLC’s literary journal, Serendipity.
The following excerpt is the first in our new interview series where we talk to members of the lesbian literary community. A longer version of this interview will appear in an upcoming issue of our literary journal, Serendipity.
A North Carolina native, Krystal A. Smith (i.e. K.A. Smith) is a Black lesbian writer of poetry and speculative fiction. Her work has been described as “lyrical” and “intriguing.” Her poems have appeared in Tulips Touching (UltraVioletLove Publishing 2011) and recent short stories have appeared in Ladylit Publishing’s Summer Love: Stories of Lesbian Holiday Romance (2015) and Lez Talk: A Collection of Black Lesbian Fiction (BLF Press 2016). Her debut collection of short fiction Two Moons: A Collection of Short Fiction (BLF Press) will be released in 2018.
When did you start writing speculative fiction? Who are your major influences in this genre?
I had imaginary friends growing up. Little Bruno, Bubba, Shubby. My older…
I’m (still) currently reading Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters. I got stalled on chapter 3 with Fred Holt the bus driver for a while. I’ve been reading slowly because the prose is beautiful and careful and deliberate. I like Fred. The way he observers everything going on around him and splices it in with his own thoughts. But also I’m reading slowly because there are a lot of characters in the book and events don’t seem to be as clear as they seem (read: I got confused at the end of chapter two and had to reread it). It’s also a good book pairing for the current political times.
I’ve also been spending time on the Creative Nonfiction website reading stories of a true nature in preparation for a workshop assignment. The last time I wrote nonfiction I was in graduate school. The only feedback I remember from class was, “Krystal, this doesn’t sound like you.” Cringe…Everyone in that class was white and only an acquaintance, so I’m not sure what they expected after knowing me for five minutes. I mean…I think I know, but…
I enjoy nonfiction, but like my workshop group said it is out of my comfort zone. I’ve been batting ideas around and drafting, but I’ve not settled on one topic to write about yet. I don’t want to write about myself. I don’t like feeling exposed, up for examination. Besides there aren’t too many ways to creatively dress up events in my life. At least I don’t think so.
My literature students have been writing some creative essays on various short stories too. I’ve been thoroughly entertained by their discoveries from stories like Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron and Cheever’s The Swimmer. The end of the quarter is near and they have one more essay to write. Which means I have one more set of essays to read.
So lots of reading on my end.. I have this idea to revisit a few books I never finished for whatever reason. I have a short list growing in the back of my head. Once I finish Salt Eaters I’ll see what I can do. The guilt of not finishing a perfectly good book eats at me.
What are y’all reading? My TBR list is never too full. 🙂