Perfumed herself in cynicism. Seated in sparkled-red booth, at the diner she works at, on lunch break. Asks her ex for more napkins, so that the Maraschino cherry syrup, slipping down her uneaten whip cream, won’t leave too much of a bloodstain.

In life, she gets none of what she needs.

she don’t know how to look for it. Used her thin-lips, french-tips, and wide hips as substitute for her reason.

In community college she was Ms. Social Justice. With whistles in her rhymes, she disfigured time — spoke as if she still went to bed hungry, as if her hardship still derived from standardized tests, redline streaks on neighborhoods, and the injustice of health outcomes. As if she was raised in urban desert, traded Takis for tomatoes and fresh mustard greens. ill-informed by the Man, and too in love with Grandma’s butter or Aunt Jemima’s syrup to eat anything without a little bit of salt, sugar.

Since then, her womanhood — a discarded thimble tossed in the cavernous bowl of Martha’s sugar cookie batter, was stirred into the smoothness of her social class. The boy loved her; one bedtime and months later, the roundness of her belly asserted itself over her Levi’s. She never googled baby names. Never painted an empty room a different color.

— — — — —

Mother told her: God never advises that we leave. Pray to Him.

She knows no one who has died. Yet, she carries tombstones under her eyelids; Justin Beiber ringtone “Sorry” in her back pocket. Wonders if paychecks will be fat enough to feed her baby this season. she waits. she counts the number of faked gemstones on the bracelet he gave her for their 1st anniversary.

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