Walking through the peach-logoed antique store my forehead frightens itself into a sticky funk. The word “dixie” hangs above my Black body like a halo, the irony thick on my tongue in the language of white I have learned since childhood. The fall air waltzing through the store shrinks me into a disillusioned crescent of an angel. We are here on my birthday, my boyfriend and I, his blue-eyed curiosity leading us through the clustering aisles, packed still with dusted relics of every peach-growing experience my mother and grandmother could not afford. My throat swells each time we pass a mammy figurine or a caricatured Asian doll, stiff on the shelves I now have the privilege to run the fat of my finger against. I choose to swallow my body, uncolor the fruit and pit of me inch by inch until I am nearly pale enough for a eulogy. We joke about my only interest in the store being the lavender-scented soap crafted au naturale by white women and the pastel-colored jewels reflective in the brown-black deep of my eyes, and I laugh even harder at the joke beneath my tongue: every item palatable for me will be washed away with time; only what is white is ever in the condition to be permanent. He doesn’t see the cloud draped over the history of me while looking at the scuffs on military-grade combat boots, and I don’t know how to speak of it. He walks in the way of unknowing, of unwitnessing the shadow I am in the store― in the vintage mirror, my eyes shoot themselves into the back of a shelf. He fits in so well, under the civil-war aged chandeliers, the dot to my question mark of a body squeezing through every aisle. The wicked part of me homes a swarm of flies in my gut and imagines them splitting the body in two until my blood stains the floor and the crimson color ruining the decor lets them know I was here. How to explain to him the feeling of being swallowed by every room I walk into, the feeling of drowning, of being a susceptible mess to every space afraid of color. How to explain to him what he will never understand.
SADE COLLIER is a first-year student pursuing a double major in Journalism and Politics at New York University. Their work has been published in Prometheus Dreaming, The Closed Eye Open, and is upcoming in The Closed Eye Open and Beyond Words Literary Magazine. You can keep up with them on Instagram (@lol.sade) and keep an eye out for their upcoming chapbook.