African Money

She swirled her wine in the glass, watched it spin.  When she could divine a direction in the rich burgundy, she drifted that way… this time, to the living room.  She did this most days, a random order game; a play at being involved, interested … it was what she did to pass the hours.

She flowed though the quiet house, raised her hands above her head, spun like a gypsy and laughed, a splash of wine kissed her cheek, all languorous movement, all slow motion beauty, staggered steps.  She wore the wine like a mink stole wrapped around her thoughts;  she recognized that thinking too much these days was a sure path to reasoning, and reasoning meant recognizing what her thoughts told her.  She couldn’t have that.

She made her own music as she stepped lively; there was no music in this place, nothing to dance to … she had alien radio stations that ran in her head; they kept the music pumping 24/7.

She slipped in the hall, her wine kissing the edge of the glass.  That made her nervous. There could be no evidence of what she did with her days.  There could be no wine stain, no red on the expensive foyer carpet; those were the rules.  She made the rules. She was the only player.

Using the wall for support, she focused on the couch and on the glass in her hand.  She walked like she was in a silent movie, exaggerated moves to convey that she was being careful, very careful.  She felt like Lucy, almost heard the live studio audience titter and erupt.  She laughed again, and almost stumbled.  That made her laugh too.

She placed the glass on the expensive High boy, off of the coaster, but still on the glass. ’That’s gonna leave a ring’ she said out loud … and the sound of her own voice startled her.  It was the first sound she heard in hours.  And collapsed on the couch, one foot dangled above the floor, swinging lazily.  She looked at the clock on the fireplace … Christ, hours left to go.

This was the calm.  He was the storm.  When he came home, it wouldn’t be her throwing herself in his arms.  No more of the heat, as it was, the period where clothes were just distraction, locations a matter of taste.  It wasn’t that now.  It was cold…and never so cold as it was come summer.  He kept the AC on, even on the mildest days. He didn’t like to see a tan on her ivory skin; she stayed inside.

She let her eyes walk around the room, at the historical furniture, that state-of- the-art entertainment center, the beautiful period touches.  It was a beautiful house.  It was something to be proud of.  It felt like an albatross to her now, it weighed heavy on her.  It was her abuser.  It stood in judgment of her.  The house witnessed how he broke her down, and had no sympathies.

She was drunk enough to consider it, but not drunk enough to actually burn it down.

Hours to go.  Then the Storm.  Then more hours.  She looked at the bowl on her coffee table, and the glass beads it contained, perfectly arranged.  It used to be an ashtray, back when they smoked, back when they did anything together.

She remembered her history.  Slave beads.  That’s what they looked like: tiny, pretty, used to attract people moved by tiny pretty things.  Completely worthless in a world real economy.

That seemed significant … she took a deeper swallow of wine and stopped that errant thought cold.

She wasn’t Cinderella. Cinderella was at least family.


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