Tuesday 25 July 2017

Excerpts from A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

Excerpts from A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James:

Figuring things out is a dangerous thing. It makes you look backward and that’s also dangerous. You keep doing it you find yourself right back at the thing, the one thing that pushed you forward in the first place. I don’t know and I swore I put myself on the damn couch to stop the fucking thinking. I wish he was home. Silly girl you just wished he wasn’t. Barely five minutes ago, girl, I was with you I heard every word. Can people do that? Can people want to be with someone all the time, okay most of the time, and yet also wish they were alone? And not in little compartments but at once? At the same time? All the time? I want to be alone but I need to not be. I wished Chuck was one of the men I thought that would make sense to. Usually I just turn on the radio and let it fill the house, noise, people, music, company that I don’t have to acknowledge or respond to but I know they are there. I wish I could do that with people. I wish people would do that with me. Where’s the man who I can be with who doesn’t need me to need him? I don’t know what I’m talking about. Need is the only reason I’m right here, right now in this room. No. Jesus, what a bitch. Today I shall love his hair.

Tonight I shall love all the sounds he makes when he sleeps. The heehaw, the whistle when one of his nostrils blocks. The half of a sentence. The mumble. The flap flap flap flap snore. The groan. The American fart. That part of the night, three-ish, four-ish, when I can ask a question and he’ll answer, which is how I know he’s not really sure how his family will react to meeting a woman like me, though his mom is just the sweetest gal, really just the sweetest. I know all his sounds because I never sleep. Up all night, sleep all day, there are names for women like me. Women like me don’t sleep. We know that the night is no friend of us. Night does things, brings people, swallows you up. Night never makes you forget but it enters dreams to make you remember. Night is a game where I wait, I count off until I see the little pink streak cut through our window and I go outside to see the sun rise over the sea. And congratulate myself for making it, because I swear, every night. Every night.

Last night I realised I could kill anybody, even a child. Maybe a boy. Don’t know about a girl. Just because you don’t sleep doesn’t mean you don’t dream, there’s something my mother never told me. Last night I could have killed a kid. There was this gate and it was just some rusty gate but I knew I had to get through it. The only way forward is through. Who said that? I had to get through it, if I didn’t I would die, get cut open, sliced with a knife from the neck right down to labia with me screaming all the time, I just had to get through the fucking gate. And there was this kid at the gate, one of those children you see in movies where you can’t tell if it’s a boy or a girl. Maybe he was white but white like linen not skin. And the whole time I could see the white alarm clock about to hit two a.m. and the four walls around me, two glass windows, even the sky outside, but I could also see the gate, and I could hear Chuck snoring but I could also see the kid and I could look down and see slashed-up flesh where my feet was supposed to be. I had run my feet off. And I wanted to go through the gate and this kid was blocking it with this look, not threatening but confident, smarmy, cocky — Chuck would have said cocky. And I took this knife that I had and grabbed him by the hair and lifted him up and drove the knife in his heart and because the blood was blue I didn’t feel bad about stabbing him again and again and every time the knife went through his skin it’s like his flesh was too tough and the knife bent in a different direction than where I aimed and the kid was screaming and laughing and screaming and the only thing to do was pull out the knife and saw his head off and throw it away. And scream as I ran to the gate. Then I woke up. But I wasn’t asleep.

Maybe I should bathe or something. When Chuck was going off to work he asked what am I up to today? Shouldn’t have told him nothing because I went out. Maybe I should take off these clothes or at least these shoes. Even a man who loves to say babykins, I don’t know about this fashion shit, knows the clothes I wear to go out is not the clothes I wear to buy bread. And if he sees his woman in the good clothes he would know she was trying to impress a man and might have succeeded, but that man is not him. I really should at least take off this blouse. Or lie down until the gulls fly away. Maybe if he asks I can say I was dressing up for him, hoping we would go out. But babykins, nowhere’s safe outside, he’s going to say. Not even in Montego. I’ll say that Jamaicans shorten Montego Bay by saying Mobay, not Montego. I’ll say I want to go out, I want to dance and he’ll say but I dance better than you and I’ll pretend that last one didn’t sting.

(Source: The Punch Magazine)

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