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--Edwidge Danticat
from Krik? Krak!
(c) 1995
Random House Publishing Co.
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last updated.....31 October 2000
I hear him humming a song.   One of the madrigals they still teach children on very hot afternoons in public schools.  Kompe Jako, dome vous?  Brother Jacques, are you asleep?

The hibiscus rustle in the night outside.  I sing along to help him sink deeper into his sleep.  I apply another layer of the Egyptian rouge to my cheeks.  There are some sparkles in the powder, which make it easier for my visitor to find me in the dark.

Emmanuel will come tonight.  He is a doctor who likes big buttocks on women, but my small ones will do.  He comes on Tuesdays and Saturdays.  He arrives bearing flowers as though he's come to court me.  Tonight he brings me bougainvillea.  It is always a surprise.

"How is your wife?" I ask.

"Not as beautiful as you."

On Mondays and Thursdays, it is an accordion player named Alexandre.  He likes to make the sound of the accordion with his mouth in my ear.  The rest of the night, he spends with his breadfruit head rocking on my belly button.

Should my son wake up I have prepared my fabrication.  One day, he will grow too old to be told that a wandering man is a mirage and that naked flesh is a dream.  I will tell him that his father has come, that an angel brought him back from Heaven for a while.

The stars slowly slip away from the hole in the roof as the doctor sinks deeper and deeper beneath my body.  He throbs and pants.  I cover his mouth to keep him from screaming.  I see his wife's face in the beads of sweat marching down his chin. He leaves with his body soaking from the dew of our flesh.  He calls me an avalanche, a waterfall, when he is satisfied.

After he leaves at dawn, I sit outside and smoke a dry tobacco leaf.  I watch the piece-worker women march one another to the open market half a day's walk from where they live.  I thank the stars that at least I have the days to myself.

When I walk back into the house, I hear the rise and fall of my son's breath.  Quickly, I lean my face against his lips to feel the calming heat from his mouth.

"Mommy, have I missed the angels again?" he whispers softly while reaching for my neck.

I slip into the bed next to him and rock him back to sleep.

"Darling, the angels have themselves a lifetime to come to us."
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