She said yes first about the handjob, and the blowjob, and the orgasm
. Yes, and yes, and yes, in fact they each had been her first. She drank Jack and Coke
and smoked Camel filters
and at 19, was wrinkled deeply, more for lack of sleep than for any other cause. So all of this came as a shock. But she had an honest face.
She said yes to this too: said My heart is black and shattered; I hate myself today.
She says it the way you say Uh-huh, I read that one in freshman lit; I don't know how it ends.
There is a face high-maintenance women make when they know they are going to break your heart, an affect of which Charlotte is simply not capable. She laces up her boots
. Our hearts are breaking here
, she says matter-of-factly. She walks away. She says yes.
She sleeps late and applies mascara
sloppily across her lashes. She cuts her hair
at 4 a.m. and does not vacuum the remains. These are her only symptoms. She says Yes. Yes. Yes. You are good at this.
Yes. I will
go; I will
stay; her face, broken in like a leather mitt and bleached and stained, is earnest and in some lights soft. She does not use these words lightly; they are not light. You carry them until your back is twisted.
Charlotte says All the colored girls say.
She takes herself out for karaoke and Jack and Coke; her hair is in clips and she looks gawdawful. She says these questions are answerable in song. Yes.
She is yours and not yours. Broken and whole. Talking and not talking on the couch in her boozy post-karaoke sleep. The television glows soft and blue on her face. She says Yes and Yes and Yes, unafraid of the disaster that awaits her.