by S. Lee
Every country has its own stories of mythical, magical creatures that exist just beyond the limits of our imagination. The Caribbean with its tortured history has its own folklore that the young remain skeptical of, but that the old remain mindful and always respectful of…some of these stories though are more than just well rehearsed tradition used to frighten and control the young.
Blood. My life has always been marked by it. I have tried to avoid it, but in much the same way you are unable to shake your own shadow, I have had no success. The beautiful, pregnant, woman asleep at my side has helped me face my demons and has given me more patient support than I have ever felt entitled too. Still, most times I am confused and angered by my past. I have not made it easy for her. I have managed to find some distraction, if not the professional achievement we all feel driven to before we enter our thirties. This demonstrative sense of purpose and responsibility puts family and society more at ease I suppose. And if you’re one of the fortunate ones, you are left enough time to figure out what you are truly called to be. I just wish I knew what that was.
Nighttime is particularly bothersome for me. Its four thirty and I have been staring at the ceiling for at least an hour. Laying perfectly still, trying not to disturb my wife. I am not preoccupied with thoughts surrounding the birth of our first child or with being a father, though there are concerns. I have just always been restless at night. Lately though, I feel embraced by a faceless darkness. It is the same way I feel every time I return to the islands. The dreams are different now. Sometimes I’m not even asleep when I see the foreboding, faceless figure, beckoning me. My mother is another recent addition, standing at his side, silent and unmoving.
At my side, she stirs and opens her eyes for a moment. She is used to my restlessness. She kisses me on the lips and turns, falling again into a deep sleep. A smooth caramel colored shoulder is exposed and appears lighter against her dark mid-length dreadlocks. I want to be happier, to cherish her and this life more. I should. I have become a rather successful sports journalist and occasional broadcaster and I am starting a family with an amazing woman. But, the dreams and strange emotions persist. Working my body and my mind in these hours is cathartic. At least that’s what I convince myself. The distraction and solitude helps me maintain pretenses and break the near fever I often wake with.
After I return from a jog and shower, she is awake, rubbing her stomach and smiling at me in a way that reminds me of promises made.
“Did you get any sleep my darling?” She asks.
“Some.” I say toweling my still damp hair. She makes room on the bed and continues.
“I think this trip will be good for all of us. There is alot unsaid between you and your mother, perhaps you will find time to clear things between you.”
“Perhaps.” I say stroking her hair.
Nayasha is a professor of History at Brooklyn College. She comes from a Jamaican, Irish background and is always working on improving relations between my mother and I. Blood, she always says, is important.
“Does she know how soon we’ll be there?”
“She knows we’re coming, but I thought it would be better to give her our news in person.” I say smiling.
“I know I’m not showing, but I do feel different.” She says rubbing her still flat stomach.
“As do I.” I say looking into her eyes.
“You’ll be a great father Richard, even if you never find out any more about your own.” She says touching my face. “Now get dressed, or not, and I’ll make us some breakfast.” She kisses me softly and disappears into the bathroom, taking my smile with her. I understand that I will lose her if I don’t face my demons. She was right, this trip would be good for us. It could no longer be avoided.