“Real Love” by Jennifer Celestin
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
This week, Jennifer Celestin forces a smile in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
by Jennifer Celestin
Ocean Avenue, Flatbush, Brooklyn
Me and Tino are sitting in the bay window of the lobby. Our building, like the other brown, seven-storied buildings around it, is really majestic—people just never take the time to look at it. Past the scrubbed-down graffiti, the floors are lined in regal burgundy and green tiles. Not like the glowing green from the antifreeze draining into the gutters, but like emerald. Holding each geometric design together is a gold outline, a stencil I want to lift.
One of the girls outside, probably that fat-ass Farrah, is cussing somebody up and down. It sounds like someone won’t let her take her bike around the block. “Damn, son, it’s not dat serious. What? You mad protective and shit ’cause you finally could afford ta get somethin’ fuh yo’self. How much you sell ta get dat . . . Exactly! Nuthin’, muthafucka. You did safe work at da theadah. I ain’t wanna ride yo punk-ass bike an’way. Big nose muthafucka—”
“Gina, I thought when you was ma girl I would be da only one to really know you. Like for real, for real, Gina. Gina?”
The signal for nodding was usually when Tino said my name more than once in a short interval. I nod because if I donn’t, Gina will crowd my head and block all my thoughts, and without my thoughts I will have nothing but Tino. Each nod is like me erasing my name Etch A Sketch–style.
“Gina, sometimes I feel like you not here. You always looking off, and I used to like it ’cause it made you look perfect on my arm.”
He grips my wrist and his watch clanks on the windowsill. It seems to be the noise that diamonds and gold should make when hitting a rough surface.
“Can you think of any way that you can let me in on what you’re thinking and point-blank who you really are? I want more from us. This is some heavy shit for a dude to be telling you . . .”
He continues with a smile that keeps switching in and out of place, from his lips to his right cheek, to his nose, and back to his lips. He is going through that phase most dudes go through with me. The phase where they wanna get to know me better by making love to me. I wish I could meet someone who just wanted to fuck me. Maybe then it’d be for real and I could do real things, like stab my heel in their face. Especially if they interrupted me too much, like Tino been doin’ this whole time.
His jeweled band grazes past the sill again, and I am moved by the sound. The sound, the jewels, beautiful like my lobby. Beautiful. I am searching for the sound that gold and diamonds make when they collide with a hard surface—
“Gina, baby, I wanna know you. I wanna get down to the real with you. Gina? Baby, what you say? You wit’ me?” He smiled
I found it. My heel could strike the gold outline on his front tooth. A smile on my lips finally matches an unmovable one on his lips. I lean in, still smiling, hoping that my grin can force him to hold his smile. My teeth graze against his and I enjoy the sounds, feeling as if I am filled with gold and jewels, so filled they overflow from my mouth.
JENNIFER CELESTIN is a writer, performer, and facilitator. She has performed at numerous venues in New York City, including the Bowery Poetry Club and Café, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, and BRIC Arts Media. A three-time attendee of the National Book Foundation’s Summer Writing Workshops, Jennifer has also facilitated workshops outside of the US in Montreal and Haiti. Her writings were included in the City Lore Anthology of Haitian poetry and in Label Me Latina/o: Journal of 20th & 21st Centuries Latino Literary Production. She received her B.A. from Wesleyan University and is presently completing an M.F.A. in Fiction at CUNY: Queens College.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Jul 25, 2016
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