Fiction People of Color Romance

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The countertop is ancient tile—green and cream, chipped; there’s a lot of cups of coffee have sat here before mine. That wall clock says 11:45, presumably P.M. since the sky out the window is as dark as the streetlights will let it be. Here’s my hand, lying right beside my phone, like I expect she’s gonna text me at this hour. My hand suddenly looks dark, too. I’m not generally conscious of the color of my hand, but when her hand was in mine, hers was white, which made me aware of our difference for about one second. Hers was white and small, mine was large and brown. I wonder if she saw my rings. Of course she did. She probably sees everything.

She saw me. That’s what gets me. Right after that street gig, which hardly anybody attended because those assholes didn’t bother to advertise, I felt kind of down, so I walked over to a park bench. I had already noticed her, partly because she was one of about thirteen people, but also because she sat on the curb and smoked a cigarette, watching me. You notice when you’re watched. So, I was just sitting there on my bench, smoking, thinking, when she crept up to me like a deer in the woods. She said she enjoyed my show, and she thought there should have been more people. And that I should get a better drummer. (She was right about that.) I asked her to sit by me, and she did. 

The moon was full that night, so I could see her. Short white-blond hair, tiny little body wrapped in a ruffly sweater—and these eyes. I can’t describe. Eyes like hers suck you in. You can’t help yourself, because they see, know what I’m saying? They burn right through your skin and curl the marrow in your bones. She asked my name and I told her. Didn’t seem like she’d ever heard of me. She told me hers.

Yeah, she gave me her name and even spelled it, so I asked for her phone number, which she also gave me, and I put it in my phone right then, her watching. 

Next, I asked her if she’d kiss me. “Sure,” she said, and she did. Not with hers arms around me; she just leaned in and kissed me, my lips, my mouth, for maybe thirty lingering seconds, her sweet little tongue feeling mine. Then she told me it had been nice meeting me, and she was gone. My thing was tingling.

I tried that number next morning, wondering if she’d been truthful. She answered, so I said, “Hey.” So did she. 

I asked if she knew who this was, and she said, “Of course! Your voice is pretty distinctive.”

Then I said I’d like to get together and maybe hang out. 

“B___,” she said my name, “do you realize I’m eighty-three years old?” 

I said, “So?” You’d think that would have shaken me some, but really it didn’t. I knew she was old. Maybe not that old, but when you think about it, what’s old? I’m forty-five. We inhabit this planet as long as we feel like it, and then we move on.

I asked her to lunch. Told her I could Über but she said she’d pick me up. Then she texted twice to say she couldn’t find my house. I don’t mind, she’s eighty-three. Still, driving with her is an experience. I’ve said she really sees, but that doesn’t mean she sees cars coming from the right, stuff like that. We survived, though, and she managed to parallel park, and we had lunch, where she hardly ate anything, and she looked up into my eyes with that mystery, that depth. She scares me.

She’d been wearing red heels. Remembering them now, my thing tingles again. Will it always, when I think of her? I’m looking at my phone lying here next to my hand on the chipped tiles, and I want to text her. But she never answered my last three—maybe she thinks I’m a stalker.

My bed is high. She had to scramble up onto it. I watched her sweet little buns while she did. The red shoes were on the floor. I got up alongside her, and she said, “Last time I tried to have sex, I hated it.” She is thorny. What can you do with a woman like that? What can you do but persist, persist, persist. My momma told me that a hundred times, and to this day I know to never give up. 

I texted her a picture of my dick one day, because it was looking good. I’d been thinking about the last time we met, on my bed, and I thought maybe she’d appreciate the reminder. But she texted back right away, ‘No thanks, I delete them.’ Then, what does she want? I would like to give her whatever she wants, that’s the truth. She is in some world where she feels afraid to step out, yet she stepped out to me. The truth is, we’ve been traveling along on the same current for a thousand years. I thought about that, and then I texted her to tell her. She texted back, ‘Probably.’

I was on the road for three weeks before I could see her again. Sent her a text, ‘I loved holding your sweet buns in my hands.’ She didn’t answer.

The bed in this motel is a lot lower than mine; maybe she’d like it better. I lie here staring at my phone. It says 8:27, and that’s A.M. because a bright streak is shining around the edge of this sagging brown curtain. I wonder if she’s awake. She reminds me of a mermaid. I’d like to tell her that—and right away I send her a text, ‘U r a mermaid washed up on the shore and Im gonna catch u. Ur red shoes show me where u r.’ One minute—two minutes—I get a text back, ‘Mermaids are not that easy to catch.’ See, I got an answer! I text back, ‘I know. Gonna catch u anyway.’ She comes back, ‘Good luck.’

It doesn’t seem to me like she hates sex all that much. She cums quietly, happily—but I can’t tell if she gives me any credit for it. She remains a mystery. Next time I’m back in town, I’m gonna try again. I want her to know I’m here. I want her to see me.

‘Is Her Majesty avl’ble this week? I’m here till Wed.’ She texts back right away, ‘I will ask HRM if she has a slot for you. She does have a country to run.’ 

OK, I see she liked being called Her Majesty. Well, that’s what she is. Kind and friendly, like it costs nothing, and always remote, like a true queen. She can be queen over me any time; I’ll take whatever part of her she wants to give me. I missed the word ‘slot’ before but I’m seeing it now. She is funny.

But next time she came to my place, she said, “Her majesty instructed me to tell you she’s not entirely happy with your venue. For starters, she thinks there should be a chair for her.” I say there’s a stool right there. She says, “Her majesty doesn’t like sitting on a high stool. It’s not comfortable. Her majesty doesn’t like to have to worry about her balance.” It kind of makes me uneasy. I have the place I have, and I know it’s not much. It’s all a road musician needs, just a bed and a chair and a place for all my CDs and guitars. I do smoke in it, but I light a sage smudge before she gets here. Yeah, the bed is high, since I keep all my clothes and hats under it, and the blanket is scratchy, but I didn’t think she’d be the type to care about shit like that. She was telling me that basically she does care. What can I do?

To tell the truth, I texted her every morning. I get up early anyway, and I always sent her a ‘Good mrn gorgeous fox.’ Sometimes she’d answer, ‘Good morning,’ other times she’d ignore me. I tried to think how to get her attention. Once, I didn’t say ‘Good mrn’ till after noon—and she texted that time, ‘It’s afternoon.’ Good, so I shot back, ‘I don’t like yr attitude young lady I think ur asking for a good spanking.’ She texted immediately, ‘Oh really!’ and I said, ‘Yes really.’ Then she said, “I’ll believe that when I see it.’ This made me feel very positive, because I could tell she liked being teased about spanking. The question is, should I actually spank her? Do you spank a queen?

I’m coming back to town next week, and I want to see her. She knows that, since I told her, ‘I wanna see u.’ She didn’t answer, of course. Mermaids are hard to catch, they’re slick and scaly, too heavy and wiggly to hold, always wanting to jump back into the sea where they came from. But she should answer my texts. She shouldn’t keep me waiting for two or three days before getting her lazy fingers to send me some little message. ‘I’m hot for your body,’ that’s what I want to hear. I imagine her saying that, and my thing tingles as it always does when I think about her. Does hers? I have no clue. She’s a big secret. This has been going on for at least half a year now, so doesn’t she owe me something? I have to worry about her all the time, like a ticking time bomb. She should think about me—she should try being me for a while, just to see what it feels like.


Oh, but I do. That’s exactly what I’m doing right now, boy. I’m thinking what it feels like to be you, and I’m smiling. Because there’s some pain being you, and also some pain being me. I’m smiling to know you’re lying there in some motel thinking about my buns, and who else in the world is thinking about these ancient buns? It has changed my life. Oh dear, I cannot tell you how happy I am to get your daily ‘Mrn sexy fox’ and your dire warnings about spanking me—and no, I don’t always answer. I can’t. It’s a conversation with a life of its own, somehow curiously separate from me. That is what happens when you are very old; you become more and more a spectator to your own life. You want to know if I see you. How can I be sure I do really, really see you? But you should know this: I’m looking at you. 

May 24, 2023 20:58

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12:58 Jun 01, 2023

I like your writing. The story hooked me right away. I was blown away when I learned the "mermaid" was 83. Was the age likely? I don't know. Maybe a bit extreme. I guess I would have believed it more if she was a little younger. I loved the description of driving with her. Laughed out loud when you said, she sees me, but not the cars coming at us. A good read. Thanks.


Kajsa Ohman
17:17 Jun 02, 2023

OK, here's the thing: THIS IS A TRUE STORY happening in my life right now. I don't often do this. But yes, I'm 83--n0, 84 now--and so I get to do whatever I want, including fictionalize my life as it streams past me.


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R W Mack
21:42 May 31, 2023

I like a story that doesn't give everything away halfway through. A lot of stories are so straightforward and predictable with old tropes that it's sometimes hard to read them. This kept me wondering the whole way. I wish I'd been the judge for this one. Also, I'm big on the first couple lines and your content "warning" at the top got a laugh. People forget that any way we can get people interested in our story before finishing the first paragraph is a win. Short, quick titles work well and seeing submissions use the content warning header...


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