On deep purple-black nights, when the whole house has pushed itself into slumber, WaLiLa’s energy flits around her room like a moth. It leaps up to do jumping jacks & turns cartwheels, then clings to the ceiling. It bounces off the walls & jiggles its knees impatiently. WaLiLa is a jitterbugging ball of need about to pop.
Her energy screams at the top of its lungs. “I want to wake the whole house!” How can they sleep when they know that somewhere the Brugal is being poured, the disco lights are pulsating, the speakers are thumping & the dance floor is full. How can they sleep?
WaLiLa’s charged energy frowns & pouts in its boredom. Her fuse is dampened. Her flame reduces to a dim glow; the dynamite doesn’t blow. On deep purple-black nights, WaLiLa’s energy kicks the walls of her insides, sulks to the corner of her chest, & slides down into a deep, defeated slump.
call malkai me fuse re-flames. me fire burn long way to club. we go in club. i excited. i holding on wrist malkai. i feel air white & thick on me skin. me eyes see sticks skinny people use to spread air thick. glow of light on end of stick make me think home. i feel burn in me nose. malkai tell me is scent: smell of rum. me heart pumps to music beat.
me fuse is burning me fuse is burning
me fuse is burning is burning is burning
sudden we on floor dance. circle malkai spin me in. feet we slide to beat. i mirror malkai mirror i. we dip, we glide, we bump, we grind. we pause . . . & EXPLODE! malkai wink, i turn & we go spin & spin & spin.
“I am going to buy a drink Lila, do you want one?” MalKai asked.
“Yeah, me want rum.”
“I want rum,” MalKai corrected.
“I want rum,” WaLiLa repeated & turned back to face the dance floor. WaLiLa saw MalKai’s outstretched fingers cross over her shoulder & impatiently demand her attention. She turned back around with an innocent grin. “Oh, coins you want?” she asked & gave MalKai five pesos.
As WaLiLa scanned the club with her sharp vision, she fumbled with the waist of her stockings. She still wasn’t accustomed to them. At home, they never used such trappings. As her eyes skimmed the faces of the club-goers, their identifications popped into her mind.
•Raul Gomez, 21, 5’6”, 150, Dominican•
•Daniel “Chino” Rodriguez, 21, 5’9”, 210, Dominican•
•Edwin “Choco” Cruz, 32, 5’4”, 116, Dominican•
WaLiLa was interrupted by a sharp nudge at her elbow. She turned around, & as her eyes collided with the face standing behind her, the information popped into her eyescreen.
•Patrice Johnson, 20, 5’3”, 135, American•
Patrice was staring at her hands. She was about to reach out & touch WaLiLa again when she realized WaLiLa was looking at her. WaLiLa was used to such amazement. Her skin was thick & velvety soft. Almost plush, like fur. She was brown from head to toe. People would look at her & stare. The question was always on their lips. “Where are you from?” WaLiLa would always answer with the point farthest from where she happened to be. When she was in South Africa, she said Seattle, Washington. When she was in Seattle, she claimed Mongolia. When in Mongolia, she said Martinique. No one knew the difference.
Her strange beauty was compounded by a unique habit she had of flicking her arms. In the middle of walking, eating, talking she would involuntarily move her shoulder up, followed by her upper arm, her elbow, then her wrist. Then with a small flick of her fingertips, she would change the direction & her wrist would lead the heel of her hand, her elbow, & the rest of her arm back down again. After a couple of days in her company, people became accustomed to it & were no longer openly mesmerized by the rippling muscles & graceful arcs of those velvet arms. The motion fascinated everyone, but people thought it impolite to speak of it. Like a speech disorder or a wheelchair, it was “ignored,” but when people saw her shoulder rise, they discretely stepped out of the way. They knew of the force, as well as the grace, of that arm.
When she looked at herself in the mirror her eyescreen inadvertently read:
•MiLelKo FruStaTahl WaLiLaHeRaMiNa•
But Patrice, having no eye screen, simply registered her as Walila Eyibe, 22, Ethiopian & friend.
“Hey Lila, what’s up? Who you here with?” Patrice was holding on to some tall, dark Dominican’s hand.
•Pito Reino, 23, 5’10”, 187, Dominican•
“MalKai I with,” she replied. “You have fun, huh?” WaLiLa smiled at Patrice, jerking her chin toward Pito.
“Si, señora.” Patrice answered.
“You no come with him,” WaLiLa said, more of a statement than a question.
“No, I’m here with C.J. & George.”
“You like George, no?”
“Yeah, I did, but he’s all up in C.J.’s butt. You know how much they love her light ass here.”
“Lila, here is your drink.” MalKai interrupted, handing WaLiLa a cuba libre. “I just saw Rob, I’ll be back.”
“Now I no have dance mate,” complained WaLiLa.
“Good thing I got one right here,” smiled Patrice holding up Pito’s hand as though a trophy. “I’m not sweating all these men flocking over C.J. Tonight none of that shit matters. Where are you sitting?”
“I no sit still.”
“Look, we’re sitting over there in the corner. You can sit with us. Me & Pito are just going to get a little fresh air. Be right back.”
i back lean in chair metal. seat is soft—color of night flame & fuzzy. i look people in club. i see c.j. on dance floor with…
•Eduardo Roberto Capitan, 26, 5’8”, 150, Dominican•
sudden man short, skinny sit in next chair. he pick up rum off table & drink it.
“he-llo? this not your rum.”
“that’s not your seat,” the guy say.
i look chair down, look man up. he laugh, give me hand his.
“george, the haitian?”
man eyebrows jump. “i’m famous!” he say & laugh more. i shake him hand & lean front. i turn to look george better.
•George Beuveaux, 24, 5’9”, 169, Haitian•
in corner of me eye i see bad letters i no want see. letters say — “Assignment.”
“you must be a friend of patrice’s.”
“i am. why you here?”
“what, in this club?”
“no, in this country,” i say.
george give me look funny.
“i’m studying medicine at the university.”
“you know dances?”
“compa, rara, boogaloo? I know many dances.”
“no,” i say with sigh big. “you know dance merengue & salsa?”
“i do,” him say & hold me his hand out again.
i smile & take hand. him take me to floor dance. we fit in space tiny in floor middle. with wink in him eye, george begin the sway. we glide back & front on salsa beat, i think what kind assignment george be. will he be many work or many play? feel like play. i smile big. i close me eyes & listen to salsero song. before leave dance floor, i wipe hand on back of neck wet george. i rub me lips on hand, lick me lips & taste wet george. hunt begin.
After that dance, WaLiLa drank nothing. She wanted no liquids to dilute the tingle of George’s sweat on her tongue. That night, she lay down in her bed & tapped her chest. She touched her finger to the tingling spot on her tongue & transferred the tingle to her chest. She offered the taste as a trail, a scent that her hunterself could use to track George to his home. She freed her hunterself & watched her fly through the slanted glass slats left open for this purpose. WaLiLa closed her eyes & passed all of her energy over to her hunterself. She felt a cool breeze on her face as her hunterself sped through the air in the direction of the sparks that matched the tingling of George’s sweat. The further away WaLiLa’s hunterself flew, the weaker WaLiLa became. Eventually, she slid into unconsciousness. Her hunterself didn’t return until morning. She came back breathless & cold. I’m sorry Lila, she motioned. I couldn’t find him. He is too far away. She settled herself into the hollow of WaLiLa’s shoulder blade. I am sorry he is too far. Too far away.
air night feel good to me shoulders naked. me & malkai dance to beat merengue. malkai spin me half circle. i can see d.j. i smile to d.j., i want to him—song nice play me. i feel hand malkai on me waist. he spin me in circle again. over shoulder malkai, me eyes see george. i close eyes slow & smile.
“he me assignment,” i whisper malkai.
“he is my assignment,” malkai correct me. “he will not be your assignment for long if you do not speak correctly.”
“what mean you?”
“what do i mean? i mean he is going to see straight through you.”
“see straight through me?” i ask. i look down & see me body. it still there. it no leave.
“no,” laugh malkai, “not literally. it is a phrase, it means he will know that you are hiding something. that you are not who you say you are.”
“you no worry on that. humans too separate. they not like people from places other, they not take time to know. they no even know people language in places other. i can say i from part different in haiti & he not know difference.”
“so you got the haitian?”
we spin circle, malkai look better.
“he looks pretty easy.”
“yeah, who you assignment?”
“who is my assignment? i do not know, i have not found her yet.”
“lucky, my ass. i am ready to get the hell out of here. i only have two more jobs until i have completed my field requirements. i am going to be upset if it takes me a year to find this assignment.”
song end & we go to chairs. i feel touch soft on me shoulder & i turn to it.
“hi, george,” i say name george for ear malkai.
“hi, walila, would you like to dance?”
i take hand george after give look & wink to malkai. on floor dance we find space empty. i fit self in arms george, he whisper in me ear, “i like what i see.”
“and, what see you?” i smile, i like game.
“i see a beautiful woman.”
george feel me body get straight & he get confused.
“what’s wrong?” he asks.
“i am sorry, i not want to give you wrong think, but i not plan on making intimate to you.”
me hunterself say words with me. she know them by heart. we must practice them times many before. elders teach us it. they think to protect us. they not want us give assignment wrong think—assignment feel anger when discover we not them belonging. i have plan many to make intimate to george, but i not tell him. i not have to, george make me job easy.
“está bien, está bien. i can respect that. i just like the vibe i get from you. i would really like to be your friend.”
we go to bar. he buy piña colada to me & rum to him. me think it good time to get background.
WaLiLa closed her eyes for what seemed to George to be a split second. When she opened them they had changed. They were warm & glowing & their brownness seemed infinite. Staring into them, George felt the weight of life & gravity lifting off his body. His torso raised from its usual cool, suave slouched to a straight-spined, erect position. His chest cavity expanded as his heart opened valves, corridors & veins to WaLiLa. He thought WaLiLa to be a kindred spirit, someone with a deep understanding of his inner self. He didn’t think it was the eyes. Those large probing eyes, wet with seeking, silently waiting at attention for any bit of information to come their way.
“I’m really making good friends with Patrice. . .” he began. & when he spoke, he almost had to check to see if the sound waves reverberating against his ear drums were actually his, for the talking took no effort. He didn’t have to send his messenger neurons scampering to his brain with the command to speak. His mouth flew open on its own. The words that passed his lips came directly from his heart. They did not pass the rigorous obstacle course through which he passed all his lines when meeting a new woman. The eyes were freeing him. In front of them, he disrobed his protective layers & spoke plainly.
“. . . I’ve had hundreds of woman, hundreds. . .” WaLiLa appeared to be simply smiling & nodding her head. While her fingers were busy fiddling with her drink, WaLiLa had actually connected herself to the elders. Her eyes worked to ease George into a lulled state of consciousness. One that would allow him to open himself without fear or misgivings. George felt like he was having a spiritual experience. & he was right, he was. Standing there was not simply another soul working the room for love & sexual fulfillment. Standing there was a channel. Through WaLiLa, his thoughts, his very being, was flung out into the cosmos. He was transcending his plane, transcending even WaLiLa’s plane, & communing with the elders—his ancestors—& it felt good.
“I must tell you a secret. I’m married. My wife’s in Canada. I’m under a lot of stress because I want to divorce her. I was way too young when we married. . .” Actually, WaLiLa was a bit more than a channel, she was a filter. She took George’s words & distilled them to their core meaning, their essence. With that essence, the elders would know exactly how to proceed. Everything George said to WaLiLa, to the cosmos through WaLiLa, could be simplified into one phrase—I am a lonely man.
“But you must not tell my friends.” With this information it would be easy for WaLiLa to get in. It would be easy for her to give the healing touch.
“george,” patrice say. “i’m bored, let’s go.”
george nod at patrice. me he turn to, “oh, walila, we’re going to ambi’s, you want to come?”
“no, money i not have.”
“that’s not a problem, i’ll pay.”
me hunterself jump up & down, do it, do it, do it.
“no, thank you,” i say. you must learn patience, i whisper me hunterself. “i go with people i come with.”
“well,” george say, he look me body up & down with he eyes. “maybe next time.”
i smile, nod me head, & turn away. few seconds later i feel he hands on me waist & he lips close with me ear, “may i call you sometime, i’ll get your number from patrice.”
“yes.” inside me hunterself scream loud loud, yeeesssss. like i say, i think to me hunterself, patience. you must learn patience.
i stand there & watch them walk far. me hunterself dance mix wild of jig & salsa to celebration for me win. malkai shake me out me trance. his arms circle wild like wings huge. his anger make him not hold them.
“walilaheramina, what is wrong with you?!? why did you not go with them? why are you dragging this out?”
“you no ask why i drag this out, i ask why you in me assignment.”
“lila, you know i am always listening & you know the elders are tuned in too. what will they think?”
“i no care what they think. they no have to lose life if they get wrong assignment. i only here weeks two, i want know he believe.”
“it is ‘two weeks’, not ‘weeks two’ an- . . .
“why you make joke of me talk every time.”
“walila, i am not making fun of your talking, i am just trying to correct you. if you took the time to learn how to speak properly, i would not have to bother you so much.”
“i hate words. they too many, too many—how is word to not have choice?”
“si, oui, yes, limited. i not can explain me in words. words make me eyes want to cry. i want to talk like i talk.”
“it is too dangerous walila, too many people are looking.”
“but you know true what i say, yes? when i have assignment in australia with people black, they no have word for ‘time.’ when i have assignment in canada, they no have word for ‘saudade.’ here, they no have word for ‘chillin.’ words no good. words too small.”
malkai look me with no care. more hard me try.
“i want talk feeling, i want talk things inside. love fill body. joy come to toe bottom to head top. & hurt, hurt sting to finger end & it jump in belly. words not story give. words fill only mouth. words not enough. i not want hear you say i talk bad.”
“o.k. walila, all i am saying is when you are lucky enough to find your assignment in the first month, you need to take advantage of it. if you keep prolonging jobs, you will be in the field forever.”
“you keep tell me to take time & learn language good. time same you want me hurry & finish job. it not so easy. i not want die.”
“die? you are so morbid. why are you always talking about dying. it is so easy, you just follow the elders. they give you an assignment, you get the nectar, & you move on to your next assignment.”
“oh yeah? that not happen to ralinwa in london. if it so easy, tell me why ralinwa not in field now.”
“ralinwa was not thinking. her assignment had green blood. she should have known, if the assignment has green blood it usually means the nectar is bad.”
“and if she no know blood green?”
“she should look it up in the book.”
“malkai, book old …and elders use rules old still. book not always know. if parents not say blood green, it not be record. today it not simple so.”
malkai look at me & shake he head. he arms no circle so wild but they move more still.
“malkai, you can make like it all fault ralinwa but what say to indrasha or norkori or lorsenkipé? they assignments not have blood green. problem not is blood. is world new. different all is. we must see…”
i no take more. i no use words more. i no want speak of me people with words. i feeling me muscles move & me shoulder go up & bring flick arm. malkai first stand with no noise. then he turn & walk away. but i no see him leave. i letting me back arch into me familiar talk. i circle me foot on floor then let me body dip into only talking i trust.
WaLiLa climbed into George’s jeep.
“I bet you didn’t think I’d call,” George said, kissing her quickly on the cheek.
“I not thinking you call day next,” WaLiLa teased. “Where you go me?”
“To dinner,” George said and grinned.
As George drove WaLiLa down the highway, the lights of the city disappeared. She felt the night had swallowed her whole. Night was usually a source of comfort for WaLiLa, but tonight it was full of uncertainty. MalKai did not like to think about it, but something powerful destroyed RaLinWa . . . & hurt InDraSha, NorKoRi, & LorSenKiPé. MalKai did not like to think of RaLinWa’s twisted body shrouded in the grey strands of salve. Did not like to think of the elders’ futile attempts to restore the luster to InDraSha’s skin, NorKoRi’s eyes, & LorSenKiPé’s smile. But WaLiLa thought about it constantly. She often saw RaLinWa’s bony finger, frozen in its feeble attempt to lift in conversation. All the wounded had now was words. Even though they had returned home, InDraSha, NorKoRi, & LorSenKiPé couldn’t practice the body speak. They had no energy to raise their shoulders in greeting. They could not muster the strength to throw an arm flick with attitude. They lay weak & shriveled, deteriorating because of the poisonous nectar they took in from non-believers. i could be just like them after George, WaLiLa thought as she & George were driving deeper & deeper down night’s throat, further & further away from the lights of the city.
When George finally turned off the road into a driveway, WaLiLa was weak with apprehension. She slid out of her seat and looked at the huge house rising in front of her.
“Here dinner?” she asked.
“Yeah, I cooked,” George said with a wink.
WaLiLa felt a soft touch at her back. She turned & noticed a brown flutter flitting through the air. Instead of following George into the house, she followed the brown flutter around the side of the house. It flew onto the back porch where it landed on a white wall. WaLiLa crept onto the porch and stared at it intensely.
George opened the back door and stepped out onto the porch. He opened his mouth to ask WaLiLa what she was doing outside when he noticed her staring at a furry moth on the wall. The moth held no fascination for him; his eyes were drawn to WaLiLa’s face. She & the moth shared an unspoken kinship. The brown bodies flitted as the moth escaped & WaLiLa shifted away from George’s gaze.
WaLiLa followed the moth into the house where it settled onto a multicolored tapestry that was thrown over the back of a sofa. She knew the moth was the signal that the elders wanted her to strike. Sadness washed over her. George felt her sadness & responded as though she had spoken.
“I know how you feel,” he slowly uttered, reaching out as though to touch WaLiLa’s back. “It … it is so beautiful, that you want to touch it.” Then he drew his hand back as if to stop it from acting on its own, “but you are scared that if you do, it will fly away.”
i lay in circle on floor george. videos of music from france, canada, & haiti he show me before mix in me mind. i try not think on home. i know elders not like. ayy, lila, they say moving their shoulders rapidly in unison, you always do it the hard way. why tempt your emotions? you always have to be in control don’t you? why don’t you just complete your assignment & leave? when you are done working the field, you will find your love here, at home. i go sleep with remembering voice george…
“can i hold you?”
i remember how jump me heart. i no answer, but i go close to him & lay in he body shape. i watch video. he watch me. time whole i thinking: do you believe? do you believe? me eyeskin tight slide on me eyeballs when feeling lips on me cheek, me neck. it almost too hard make stop george, but i keep control. i push he face off, but stay in he arm circle. he fingers on me face, me waist, me hips. yes. i like. he sleep, me head in he lap. i calling him. he no hear me. i sit up, he wake up. he no sleep until… until… until i put me head back in he lap.
moth the elders send fly in room all night. i not see signal. i too busy feeling.
WaLiLa watched George walk back over to where she was sitting & couldn’t help but think “what if?” what if i don’t have to go back? what if i could stay with my assignments? Her work in the field never allowed her to go past these first tender moments. She was an expert at the chase. Knew the rushing sensations of the first dates well, but what happened then? What did two months feel like? Three, four? The elders kept promising she would know the feeling when she got home, after the fieldwork. But what if they never took her off fieldwork? Some of the best were still in the field on extended assignments. WaLiLa knew the same thing could happen to her. George broke into her thoughts asking,
“Do you realize we’ve seen each other every day this week?”
WaLiLa shook her head, yes.
“Do you realize how much I like you?”
“I know, I know. I have to stop thinking like this, but I need to know how you feel about me.”
“It no matter how I feel. I no stay with you. I leave soon.”
“You will leave with Patrice & the other Americans?”
“I no same like Patrice & the other Americans.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just tell me how you feel about me.”
She kept silent. It always came to this. A demand, a need to know that the tenderness in the air was reciprocal. Still, she would not speak. She preferred to focus on enjoying the tingly feelings. She couldn’t expose the real pleasure she felt in spending time with her assignments. Not to them. Not to the elders. Not even to herself.
He brought her home in silence. When they reached her house, WaLiLa stepped out of the jeep slowly & waved goodnight.
“WaLiLa!” Her name sounded like it was ripped from his throat. “Would you … could you come over tonight?”
i run in house & get clothes & things. i no want contact elders, but i not can complete assignment with not talk with them. i get on knees & pull me hunterself out to get on knees too. me shoulder raise. i start with arm flick. the circle of life is beginning to strain. i curve me elbows & i make circle with me arms. they who do not believe in you, my elders, are winning. i push me arms tight to me side. i know you feel i am willful and disobedient. i chop down with final move. but i am afraid. i move arms quick in air around me body. the non-believers hope to exist and progress without feeding their predecessors. i brush me fingers from me belly to the floor. this desire is powerful, so powerful it seeps into the nectar and destroys the cycle. i bend back from me waist & lift me chest up to sky. this you know, but you don’t know how it feels to look into the eyes of the non-believers. i raise me arms & shake me fingers hard. they can kill. i move me arms in angle to behind me. my behavior does not ensure that george or any assignment is a believer. i sway me body from side to side. but i must follow my instincts. they tell me to get as close as possible so that i might feel what they feel. i roll my head around on my neck. you who are wise, please accept my apology. i touch me forehead to ground in front of me, close me eyes & move me prayer to Ancestor First. i get me bag & me hunterself & run out door.
When they got to George’s house WaLiLa’s eyes were so heavy with sleep, she could not keep them open. She knew the elders were trying to lull her into a state of unconsciousness to stop her from completing the assignment her way. She sat on the sofa & tried to appear lucid.
“WaLiLa, I’m going upstairs to take a shower, okay?”
WaLiLa nodded. As she heard the faint splash of water dripping on George’s body, WaLiLa slid off the sofa & fell into a deep sleep on the carpet. George returned to find WaLiLa curled on the floor. He watched her torso’s silent heaving motions. He examined her unguarded face softened by sleep. Sitting next to her, he caressed her sleeping body with his eyes. Laying with his back to her, he took deep stabilizing breaths & touched WaLiLa over & over in his mind. His cautious breathing woke her up. It was so careful & so loud. It was slowly passing its tongue over her ear. Come to me, it said. Wake up & hold me, it said. Come, I want you. Then the insistent breathing gave way to mumbling. The mumbling evolved into words. The words were asking if he could put his arms around her.
“Yes,” she murmured as though through a veil of sleep.
He wrapped his arms around her & a current blazed through her, zinging her awake. He started mumbling her name again & pulled her closer to him. She ignored his call, acted as though she couldn’t hear.
“WaLiLa,” he said more urgently.
“Hmmm?” she whispered.
“Lila,” he called.
She turned over to face him. His face showed all the torturous emotions that were shooting through his body. WaLiLa knew it was time. Well, she looked up at the elders, I gather the nectar my own way. WaLiLa closed her eyes & kissed him. That one kiss, a simple touch of the lips, opened a floodwall of actions & emotions. Tongues passed through the barriers of lips, clothing parted & lay rumpled on the floor. As their hips grinded to their own beat, WaLiLa remembered defending herself to the council of elders. Everybody has had to do field work from the beginning of time, they said. Why, they wanted to know, why did she have to be so difficult? Why couldn’t she just do it the old way & get the nectar while he slept? It didn’t matter to them that nectar gathering was a richer & more fulfilling experience during lovemaking. The nectar that seeped through the skin during sleep was thin, almost translucent. But when she gathered nectar while the flower was open, its essence was so powerful it almost knocked her unconscious.
She pushed the council of elders out of her mind & extended her arms as wide as she could. To George, it looked like she was unfurling large wings, like those of a moth. He dismissed the thought, crediting the delusion to his happiness. She enfolded him in her wings & pulled in all of the energy, sweat, & fluids he released to her. Those fluids contained the potent nectar WaLiLa had been sent to Earth to obtain. She and hundreds of other field workers spent the majority of their youth learning tactics and techniques to persuade humans to part with it. This nectar runs the veins with the blood and exits the pores with the sweat. It is active in saliva and tears, but humans hadn’t discovered the nectar’s existence. No human language even had a word for it. In WaLiLa’s language, it was signified by a slow fluid motion from the head to the heart. The nectar of a believer could incite a shock in the body ten times as powerful as the adrenaline rush of an orgasm. But the nectar of a non-believer could freeze all life within the body starting with the slow petrification of the bones. It may be blood that sustains human life, but it is the potent nectar that ensures the continuation of the life cycle.
George and WaLiLa lay quiet. WaLiLa wiggled her fingers & toes & smiled. She was still alive—George believed! He believed in the ancestors, and this belief begot a new cycle of life. George felt a warm glow in the base of his belly. At this moment, he knew he was complete. He did not know about the healing touch. He smiled thinking he had found his better half in WaLiLa. With her, he thought, I can be whole. He did not know that this feeling was his. In exchange for his belief, WaLiLa had passed this completeness to him through his navel from the center of her being. He now owned this feeling & tomorrow, when he called his mother, he would call her as a complete being, not expecting the successes of his life to be dependent upon her. Next week when his medical project failed, he would fail as a complete being, not granting his failure to his thesis partner. And next month when he found a lover, he would come to her whole, expecting not fulfillment, but love. WaLiLa had given George back to himself. Absolved him from guilt & pettiness. Freed him to really be. George closed his eyes & began to drift off into sleep when he felt WaLiLa shift underneath him.
“What?” he murmured.
“I … I must go,” WaLiLa stammered. “Out I must go. I need have air fresh.”
“Now?” George asked worried.
“Yes.” WaLiLa wiped moisture from her eyes.
At George’s insistence, they walked outside together under the canopy of the cluttered night sky. His concern for her safety made WaLiLa smile. Full with the moon & star constellations, the sky was calling her. WaLiLa knew her time was up, but she felt her connection to George still tugging at her hips. She glanced at him. He was walking slowly with his head thrown back, caught under the sky’s spell. WaLiLa lowered her head and wondered how George would react to her departure. He won’t remember, she consoled herself, and concentrated on how it felt to be with him.
As their feet propelled them forward, they began to discuss stars & spirits & where it was exactly that the ancestors dwelled. Whoosh—a moth fluttered between them. George caught an anguished look on WaLiLa’s face. Two more moths flew by & took George’s attention. Soon a steady stream of moths were flying between them. So taken was he with this miracle of nature, he did not notice that WaLiLa had stopped walking.
George turned to utter some phrase of amazement, and found that WaLiLa was not there. He looked back and saw her, standing in the misty night air with her eyes closed, her body eerily still. The moths were attaching themselves to her body, softly and gently. Her hands were open, palms tilted upward in a gesture of acceptance. George ran to her and began to frantically brush the moths off her body. But as he removed one, two more would replace it until WaLiLa’s body was completely covered. He could no longer see his hands. George’s fingers were shaking in disbelief. The moths!
Staring at WaLiLa’s moth-clad body, George shook his hands free of moths. WaLiLa’s arms floated upward, and in a graceful motion, began performing some kind of entranced dance; her body began to sway. In moments, George could see the flapping of one, two, then thousands of moth wings. Eventually, they took flight, leaving George stooped in the middle of the street, alone except for a pile of moth’s wings marking the place where WaLiLa had been standing.
Published in Fertile Ground: Memories & Visions © 1996