Open Mic Friday! featuring Bernadette Davis

Welcome, lovelies, to Open Mic Friday! The format is simple. Every week there will be a featured “reading” in the body of this post. In the comments, you’re warmly invited to share some work of your own — and it doesn’t have to be text. To keep conversation and creative spirit flowing, please applaud and cheer for others’ offerings just as loudly as you would at a physical reading — by commenting on their work and giving props to everyone.

Tips:

  • Writers, if your work is lengthy, I recommend posting it elsewhere and including the link in the comments (with a sentence of description so we know what we’re clicking for).
  • Comments are threaded, which means you can reply directly to each reader by hitting the “reply” button within that comment box. Converse!

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This week I am so happy to introduce you to Bernadette Davis. She was one of the very first people I met at orientation at VONA, when I learned she was attending the Fiction workshop. Give it up for Bernadette!

500 word short by Bernadette Davis

Someone found Victor slumped over in his truck in a parking lot on the eastside.  At a sushi bar you’ve passed by on your way to the beach.

That’s all the doctor told you.  He said there is nothing definite, they are still trying to figure out why your husband is unconscious.

You would be able to see him soon, the doctor promised.  Victor is in transit from the ER to some test and then to a room on the fourth floor of another wing.

A nurse pressed a white plastic bag into your hands – “these are his things” – and gave you directions to his soon-to-be room.

You make a wrong turn.  Maybe you should have taken the first elevator.  Instead of patients or worried families you see double doors with slim panels of stained glass.

A chapel.  You’re sure the founders weren’t thinking about Buddha when the room was designed, but you walk in anyway.

The bag is marked with the hospital logo, a teal blue swan.  You remember blue is supposed to calm and try to do your yoga breathing.  The chapel is quiet and the three red covered pews are pristine.  There is at least one tissue box on every piece of furniture.

You open the bag with his things and reach into his jeans pocket looking for Victor’s wallet.  He bought the jeans last month after you told him to rethink his wardrobe.  He looked middle aged you teased, in his faded, tapered jeans.  They were fine 15 years and 30 pounds ago.  You showed him a photo of a hip photographer shooting a forgotten pop star in one of your magazines with the dark, straight leg jeans that pair with leather and over-priced t-shirts.

His wallet is inside the pocket, under a pair of panties.

You sit in the chapel with the crimson lace in your hand, wondering.  Then you remember to check the wallet.

All of his cards are inside.  License, insurance, credit, movie, university, work, coffee, copy, casino, and parking.  You think hard and wonder how the size 12 panties got inside, on top of the worn leather.  And why there are only two tens and four dollars in his wallet.  Victor never traveled without at least 50 dollars cash.

Or with red panties stuffed into his pants.

You don’t wear anything red.

White people think red makes Black people go crazy, according to Pauline T. Mays, who raised you to believe in myths and conspiracy theories to keep brothers and sisters down.

Pauline’s list of dos and don’ts echo in your head.

Don’t wear red.
Go to Sunday School.
Don’t eat watermelon.
Get your education.
Don’t be a street hound.
Be twice as good.

The panties are not yours.  You are wearing black bikinis, size 8.  You left the dryer running on delicate at home with lavender thongs, kiwi boy cut briefs and other ridiculous lingerie tumbling incessantly.

You stuff the panties into the bottom of the bag, under his socks and shoes, hoping they don’t show through the plastic as you walk to the room.

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Thank you for reading and applauding Bernadette’s evocative work! Visit her book blog at blackbooks.blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter @BernadetteDavis.

And now… it’s your turn. The comments are open!