You were wearing a skirt, it was purple, a favorite, its lace fringe limp against your brown thighs. And a pink translucent blouse, the top buttons undone from which a crucified Jesus danced in and out of hiding. You wore high heels that made you stumble on our mean streets. But this was just you dancing, you liked to say.
We walked the half-mile to the store past hawkers and taxi drivers stealing siestas on front lawns. You must emit a kind of energy that reshuffled the molecules in the air because they roused themselves every time you passed by. Catcalls and laughter were common fare but on this particular day: Flip up your skirt! Show us your dick! Or did you finally get it cut off? You turned your head gently from left to right, a warning to me not to respond. It’s the August heat, Maya, they make men and street dogs vicious. I turned around and gave them the finger. Their laughter was sharp and cut.
We arrived at the store, shirts damp on our backs, stuck to us like second skin. Crouched behind the cash register, Mr Lee scowled as we entered, dabbing at his shiny forehead with a frayed yellow rag that hung around his neck. In the dark, fan-cooled interior, you stood silent, staring outside, past the glass door, at men’s shadows supine once again on the lawn.
My hand slipped into yours, are you alright, it was asking, and you squeezed my hand tight. Let’s go get you your candy, darling.