Oh, That Magic Feeling
My mom is in the bathroom filling the tub. From where Iím
sitting in the dining room, I feel how much that water weighs as it thumps
down from the faucet. Itís heavy. And itís hot.
She goes to the living room where my sister Lena is
sitting on the yellow couch. Lena is trying to put her skinny knees up to
her face, but the belly is too round and big. I can see the belly button
push through the clingy gray leotards, and it makes me sick feeling. I
My mom gathers an armload of my sisterís music albums,
most of them with a black guy on the front with a big shiny afro. She
looks at Lena and goes over to her. "Ugh," she says, and she pushes my
sisterís one leg closed with her knee. "Have some modesty, why donít you?"
My sister looks at her like sheís got a machete in her eye
but she doesnít move. Iím thinking sheís trying to stop my mom from what
sheís going to do, but then Lena talks. "Stupid, smelly bitch," she says.
"Mind your own business." Her lips are real pink from the gloss.
My mom throws back her head and laughs at the white
ceiling. "What do you think Iím finally doing, little girl?"
Still with the records in her arms, she walks through her
bedroom to the bathroom, and then I hear a big splash. She squeaks off the
water and comes back. She picks up another pile and takes them in too.
From where Iím pretending to read, I watch Lena. Finally,
after sheís been fighting for a long time, I see a tiny bit of water in
her eyes. My mom comes back in the living room, and she sees it too. That
tight bunch in her neck goes down.
"Oh, Lena," she says. "Who do you think this is for?" The
room gets all quiet, and for a second I get scared sheís going to go over
and hug Lena. But then, Iím so glad, she doesnít. Shaking her head, she
picks up the last pile of records, carries them away, and splash they go.
Lena now decides to get off the couch and run towards the
bathroom, her big stomach barging. Quick, I put my book down and head up
the stairs. Just as soon as I push the button on my bedroom doorknob, I
hear the screaming again, and some thumps. But up here itís a little more
far away, like on television.
I go over and reach behind my white dresser, scared for a
minute my mom has gotten it too, but then I find it. Itís got a little
dust on the album cover, so I blow that off. I look at the guys with long
hair. On the street where theyíre walking, thereís some funny cars, which
Lena once said were English. Up in the blue sky near the corner it says
"Carl" in Magic Marker, who was my dad.
In my closet, Iíve got the beanbag chair set up. I plug in
my sisterís old record player, and I put the record on, covering my ears
with the big, spongy headphones. As the record goes around, the guy sings
a lot of weird things: Any jobber got the sack, Monday morning turning
back. Keeps a ten bob note up his nose. Boy, youíre going to carry that
Itís dark there in the closet with the door almost closed,
with just one little beam of light coming in. The guy sings and he says it
again, Boy, youíre going to carry that weight. It makes me feel so
strange. Itís kind of like all the darkness bumping around the closet
comes right into my head. When the record ends, I put it on again. As long
as the guy sings, itís okay in there and I stop listening to the always
noise of my blood.
Josephís work has appeared previously in Literary
Potpourri, Small Spriral Notebook, and The Urbanite.