Black was inspired by my writer friend, Dalia Florea, who responded to my call for a writing prompt so I could exercise my writing muscles. Her writing prompt was: “My thoughts were no longer mine. It was as if someone else was in my head. I didn’t want to do those terrible things.” Here’s the story.
Black seems hopeless. Yet, it imbues depth and vastness. There is something beautiful in that. There is mystery in that. Black. It covers the windows and shrouds my grief. It hides my nakedness and vulnerabilities. Black. It seems hopeless but it is so much more. It is bathed in consciousness. It is omnipresent. So I embrace it. All of my clothes are black. Even my undergarments. My hair, black. My brown eyes are so dark, they appear to be black. I even polish my nails black.
I work the graveyard shift. What a morbid name for an overnight shift. Graveyard. When I think of a graveyard, I think of decaying flesh in a satin-lined wooden box — some boxes more luxurious than others. I think of headstones large and small. I think of wreaths of carnations and mums. I think of haunting evil spirits.
But when I’m at work, I don’t think of those things. I don’t even consider the graveyard. I don’t contemplate grief and death and darkness. I think of black. I think of its vastness, diffuse with all-knowing consciousness. I worship it in some ways. It gives me courage. It feeds me emotionally and spiritually.
As I put the flame of my lighter to the cigarette and inhale, I don’t think of cancer and emphysema. I don’t consider my health at all. I simply enjoy the way it calms me, like transcendental meditation. Breathe in deeply, exhale slowly. It relaxes me. It centers my thoughts. And the lighter, it is a memento. Although it belongs to me now, it was once someone else’s. His name was Marcus. I had asked him for a light. When he pulled out the pewter southwest-style lighter adorned with turquoise and red coral stone accents and a buffalo nickel embedded in the pewter, I knew I had to have it.
I don’t know why I slipped the lighter in my pocket after I lit my cigarette. Marcus had smiled and said, “My lighter, please,” with his hand extended, fully expecting me to return it to him.
I’d said, “Come and get it.”
He must’ve thought my comment had been a sexual invitation because he had smiled mischievously and leaned in close to me. My inclination had been to push him away but, instead, I allowed him to get closer. I let him caress my hair and cup my breasts. I let him kiss my lips and push me against the brick facade of the building. I’m not sure why I had led him on like that. I don’t really understand why I did it. I just wanted to keep the lighter. Perhaps I could have simply asked for it. But I’m not accustomed to asking for the things that I want. I take them.
I’d felt all of his desires as he pressed his body against mine. He had been so lost to ecstasy that he hadn’t noticed that I’d pulled my jagged-edged knife from my purse. It had taken him a moment to realize what had just happened, and as soon as I recognized that all-knowing look in his eyes, I turned the knife to ensure his swift departure from this world. He fell to the ground, blood had spurted from his neck where I’d removed the knife. My father had always said “go for the jugular.” But once I learned how to hit the carotid, the jugular just seemed like child’s play. Marcus had neither been my first nor my last.
As I slip the lighter back in my pocket, I pull a chair in front of Cynthia. I know the cigarette smoke irritates her and that might’ve been why I’ve chosen to sit so close to her while I smoke. I make sure to exhale in her direction. She squirms and groans with discomfort but it doesn’t bother me too much. What is she going to do? She’s bound to the chair. I had made sure of that. She is gagged as well. I don’t want to hear what she has to say.
Cynthia is one of those dumb broads. You know the type. She had allowed her greed to override her common sense. She’d seen what I had done to Will Green. Cynthia just happened to be in the house, hiding in the closet when I had arrived. She had been having an affair with Will. And when I showed up, Will and Cynthia had thought it might have been Will’s wife. They were right. I was Will’s wife. So Cynthia had hidden in the closet. I’d known he was having an affair, but I hadn’t known he was having an affair with Cynthia, too. That particular affair would have escaped me. I hadn’t known she was there. I would never have known she was there if she hadn’t attempted to blackmail me. I was grateful for her greed.
I take one last pull from the cigarette — a nice long and hard one, then exhale directly in her face. A plume of smoke lingers between us momentarily. I pull the duct tape from her mouth — hard. I want her to feel the pain. Tears stream down her face as she begs for mercy, as she pleads for her life. That’s the only joy I could derive from the moment because I am hauled away by the police. Cynthia had been smarter than I’d given her credit for. She had set me up.
As I sit in the interrogation room dressed from head-to-toe in black, I am aware of the surveillance camera documenting every move I make, recording every word I say. So I cower my posture and imagine what it feels like to be remorseful. When the interrogator asks, “Why’d you do it, Raina. Why’d you kill your husband?” I look him straight in the eyes with tears rolling down my cheeks, I say, “My thoughts were no longer mine. It was as if someone else was in my head. I didn’t want to do those terrible things.”
[(c) 2016 Michele Kimbrough]