Angel from Kastanchawan
by Kimberly Morgan
David, you know David right? Well he came over. We had drinks and talked for hours until he decided it was time for us to part. That was when things got a little crazy.
Well first my phone rang. Just as he was about to walk out the door. I didn't want to answer, but he insisted. So I did. It was his mother, so he took the call. While he was taking the call, I locked the door so he couldn't go anywhere. After he finished with the phone call, he turned around and smiled at me with gleaming eyes. I wondered if it had been an emergency, if so I was more than ready to unlock the door so that he could leave.
But instead of telling me if it was an emergency or not, he sat back down on the couch. I took my cue and sat down right beside him.
Of course he began by asking me where I was from because his mother had commented on my southern accent. I said right here. He glanced at his watch and remembered what he had been doing before he got the call.
He stood up and headed for the door again and I just watched him from the couch. He noticed all of a sudden that his shoes were untied. He bent down to tie them. By the time he was done I had slipped into the kitchen to get him another drink. He was about to protest, but he took it anyway.
"Where are you from?" He asked again halfway through his liquor.
"Kastanchawan," I said without thinking.
He smiled and said yeah he remembered.
When he finished his drink, I removed his shoes. He looked confused at first, but
then decided to relax.
"I knew an angel from Kastanchanwan," he said shaking his long dreds and running his fingers through them. "She died," he said solemnly. "Do angels die?"
"No," I said not even bothering to look at him as I removed his other shoe. His socks were black.
"Then what was she then?"
I shrugged and went to the kitchen to get him another drink. When I returned he had his shoes in his hand.
"I've got to go," he said shaking his head like a resilient child.
I snatched the shoes out of his hands and threw them against the wall. Then I shoved the drink into his hands. He just shook his head and reluctantly took the drink. "I can't drink all this shit," he whined and drank it down anyway. He was starting to reel and his eyelids wee beginning to droop.
"You know I never been out of Kastanchawan," he said sleepily.
It surprised me because he always acted so well educated and worldly like he had been everywhere twice. His southern accent that he practiced so hard to lose was beginning to come through.
"You know I see little slave children all the time," he said shaking his head again. "Just runnin' around like they not little pickaninies. Laughin' and playin'. What the fuck they got to be happy about?"
"What about your baby, David? Do you see your baby?"
We looked toward the picture window in my living room. You know the one where Grandma use to hang those ugly old beige curtains? The ones I took down when she died so I could hang up peach ones? Well, we looked at the picture window and we could see the little brown skin girl standing in front of it. She had two pig tails neatly parted in a super straight line down the middle and braided all the way down to her elbows. She had high Indian cheekbones and on closer inspection she was the color of burnt sienna. Her eyes were large, sad, and brown like his at that very moment. She wore a yellow dress that came to her ankles. There was a white collar on the dress that came down in a pretty bow right on the little girl's chest. In her small delicate hands, she held a white wicker basket.
David got up from the couch and slowly walked towards the girl. She looked frightened as he approached.
"What you got there, little girl?" He asked pointing to her basket.
That was when we saw the slave children behind her, just beckoning for her to come with them. There were three little boys and two girls. They all wore ragged brown and tan clothes. Brown pants and skirts, brown vest, and tan shirts. They wore no shoes and socks. Their hair just puffed up uncombed around their heads like nappy halos.
"Come on, Delia," they said in unison, each one reaching their dirty rust colored hands toward the clean little girl.
"Don't play with them, you gonna get dirty!" He yelled as the little girl turned to leave. Her eyes did not leave his face until she had turned completely around.
Then she dropped her basket and ran to join the other children who were already leaving. Her pig tails swung from side to side and that was when I noticed the yellow ribbons tied neatly to the ends of each one.
"Don't play with those pickaninies!" He yelled, but she was gone. I could hear her playing with the other children already.
He shook his drunk head and looked down at the floor. That's when he noticed the wicker basket Delia dropped. He bent down on one knee and almost fell over. But he managed to turn the basket upright. It looked terribly small now compared to when she was holding it. But his hands were shaking as he reached into the basket and pulled out what I thought was a brown miniature rabbit. But then he let out a blood curdling scream and dropped it. I looked down at the carpet and saw that it was not a rabbit at all, but a baby. A little brown baby that had it been regular size, probably would have been about three months old. But it was only big enough to fit in the palm of his hand and in that tiny basket. It was a girl, and the only movement she showed was a sporadic twitch of the muscle in her arm. I could not tell if she was alive or dead.
His mouth was moving but I could not hear anything he was saying. My world seemed to be muted as he got closer and closer to me. At last when our faces seemed to be only five inches apart, I could hear him.
"What are you doing to me?" He said whining and crying like a bitch.
I could hear myself laughing, but I couldn't feel the laughter at all. I seemed to be on the outside of myself looking at me. And I was laughing, holding my stomach and laughing. Then in a voice that I swear wasn't even mine I said, "I'm not doing nothin' to you. You did this to yourself. That's your angel from Kastanchawan." And I pointed to the baby.
He stood looking at me shaking his head, and as he did, he saw the blood spreading over my white pants. Yeah, you know the silk ones I had Alethia make for me that cost about sixty dollars. Yeah, those. Well, the pubic area of the pants became red with blood that made a trail down both of my thighs. A puddle was starting to form on the floor between my feet.
He fell to the ground crying and pointing at the blood. He was drunk, you see. He was mouthing something but once again, I couldn't hear a thing he was saying. This time it wasn't me that was in mute, it was him. He just cried and pointed, and I just laughed and laughed.
"So if you had her, what would her name have been?" You ask me.
"Delia of course."