Turning Points

by Tamuira Reid

I. Theresa

He hit her, not the other way around.

Thought it was a deer, she told the police. Same kind of thud, thick and heavy. It was raining but not too hard. The impact dented the hood, busted the window, the glass splintered and folded in on itself.

Killed a man with her car. It wasn't her fault but still.

It was dark. The road was long. Oldies played on the radio. The kind of music people dance to when they think no one is watching and there is still that chance of something good happening.

The paper runs his photo with details for a memorial service at the Y on Harrisburg Street. He was nineteen, worked weekends at a Ford dealership.

She folds the story into a square and hides it under her mattress. Sometimes she feels him breathing but doesn't tell anyone.

A television crackles from a corner of the room where his two little sisters sleep, arms and legs locking. Waiting. The last thing he saw was the glare of headlights.

Silk blouse and Penny's slacks with the pleats down the front. They go into the washer with extra Woolite and she studies the water for signs of death but it's all over at this point. She lets the lid down slowly, disappears into the kitchen for another cigarette.

II. Luna

The day Luna went mad her mother thought, finally. The signs had been there, hanging around at the dinner table, in the bathroom where she ironed her hair.

It had waited patiently in the corner of a room, under a chair, in the oven with the bread. Now they wouldn't need to wonder when it would all fall apart because it just had.

The day Luna went mad she was wearing pink lipstick. Her legs were waxed and smoothed down with cocoa butter because she was religious about that kind of thing. Never know who you're gonna see, she'd say, sliding a gold hoop through each ear.

It happened slowly and over a period of time. Shop closed. Her mind just closed-up on her. Went out of business.

Luna sang to the plants as she watered them. Would be normal except she thought she heard them sing back. Her mother turned up the radio and hung wet nylons from the fire escape.

It's hard to talk about it, when it's your daughter.

The emptiness in her eyes scared her mother. The empty blackness of her eyes. They held nothing but crazy and she knew that. And somewhere deep inside, her daughter knew what was happening too but she couldn't stop it.

The police said they had found her in the fetal position, on a sidewalk in Times Square. She was licking her arms like a cat. Her clothes sat next to her in a pile, perfectly folded. She wanted to go home if that was okay.

Sit. Eat.

My hair.

Your hair is perfect. Sit.

Her mother sat her down at the table and did what she did best. Fed her. A hot plate of arroz con pollo, a Malta, tostones with the heat still rising off them.

Something is happening to me, she said and stared out the window. A plastic bag floated by, white and ripped on one side.

III. Sammy

It was late when the phone rang. She was calling from somewhere in Cambodia, her new life sprawled out before her, dirt roads that lead nowhere and everywhere.

They were at home, in the back bedroom. A light still on. A window cracked open to hear the ocean.

I want to say something to him.

To who?

Dennis. To Dennis.

The daughter heard the mother panicking, sandwiched safely between old flannel sheets. Put him on.

She nudged him where he slept. Nudged him in a way that meant business. Held the receiver to her husband's tired ear. I forgive you. He stared into the darkness. I forgive you for what you did to me. He stared at nothing in particular. She likes to think there was a tear in his eye at that moment. The wife likes to think that.