our village (24)

Y’know what she said to me the other day? Yeah, it was after you’d been sick, and I see her occasionally cuz we both go out walking, and there’s just not that many places to go, so we see each other here or there, and she’s nice and all, and, like you, she encourages me in my poetry, and, like I said, she even showed me a poem of hers and that’s when I got all curious, so yeah, I keep an eye on her, and maybe she knows, maybe she likes to be watched, maybe it’s comforting, because if you’re watched then you’re not alone, and so yeah, she likes to talk, and the other day after you’d been out sick, she asked me if I thought you were pregnant … well, no, that’s not really it. She said something a little more audacious and kinda pretended to demand that I tell her if I’d gotten you pregnant, like demanded it so that I almost felt like I had to defend myself, I mean I felt all guilty, she was so demanding, saying, like, with her finger in my chest, like a pretend whisper, “Did you get that girl pregnant?” And at first I couldn’t think what she was talking about, but she gestured to your house, and she’s pointing her finger in my chest and giving me the stink eye as if she knows something. And I want to tell her that, no, of course I didn’t get you pregnant, but I also think it’s none of her business, nosy old lady, but she’s so demanding that I get nervous and just say, “no, no, no,” like trying to get her to leave me alone, and she finally looks convinced, and her face totally changes, and she takes her finger away from my chest and puts her hands in her armpits, like to warm them up, and she gets kind of sheepish, and she says something like, “Well then.” And she goes so immediately back to being nice Ms. Marquetta … like we’re best buds, but there’s kind of a twinkle in her eye, like we share a secret now, even though the only thing we share is the knowledge that she’s a little batty … plenty nice most of the time, but a little wacko. So, I don’t know what she thinks now. I just wanted her to leave me alone when she was acting all weird and not nice.

But, like I said, there’s some depth there, don’t you think? I’m not saying I want some old lady yelling at me and saying you’re pregnant, I’m just saying it seems like there’s something to her. Is it that she’s not all there, or is that she knows something the rest of us don’t know? You never know with someone like that, unless you delve real deep, but then if it’s a swamp in there then it’s hard to get out and you wished you’d never gone in. Ms. Marquetta…. I wonder what she’s hiding. Or what she’s hiding from.

I’ll tell you my theory. I see her as a woman on the run, but with nowhere to go. She’s on a hamster wheel, but she doesn’t see that she could step off the wheel. She’s so frantic about this and that, just all amped up, like she has to perform every day. But for who? For us? No way; who needs it? She’s performing for herself—I see it when she sits at the mirror doin’ all that face wiping, just lookin’ at her own face for hours until she can’t tell which mask is the real one. And she thinks she has to keep runnin’ on that wheel … even in her dreams, like a dog in its sleep I see her running through her dreams. When’s she gonna give it a rest? Why’s she making trouble, assuming you’re pregnant? What is it to her if you stay out of school a few days, and why can’t she leave it alone? Well … she can’t. I don’t know what would make her stop running from herself, what would get her to step off the wheel, look around without fearing she’s gonna fall on her face like she must feel on that wheel. Relax, woman. Dream a bit. Imagine your future. Listen to your subconscious. Let the soul of the village speak to you.

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