Fringes

She keeps her secrets hidden in a box like a drawer.

Every day she finds a different place to hide it. Sometimes it pops out from the tender flesh between her forefinger and her right thumb. She always worries a bit when it’s there—being her dominant hand, a slight mishap may reveal it, spilling her truth to the world. When she feels she is being lax, she puts it there on purpose, a constant reminder of the cost of life and lightness.

Sometimes she hides it behind her knees, in that spot that, when touched just right, reduces her to sounding like a banshee play acting a giggling girl-child. Her laughter, if it could be called that, always embarrassed her, and she tensed automatically at even the thought of such revealing contact.

Her favorite place is behind her navel, the place where life once flowed from her mother, as all a woman’s secrets do, back and back and back. The accumulation of them becomes at times a susurration in her blood, an ocean of knowing roaring in her ears.

On these nights, she dances. Hips swinging and feet pounding, long dark hair flying with the fringe on her dress as her arms sway, you’d think she was seducing some poor soul or, perhaps, giving birth in some fecund place redolent with life.

Mama told her everyone has these secrets, written deep beneath their skin. Women, Mama said, were especially prone to them and others liked to tease them out like snakes, all flashing tongues and deep intrusions into secret places. “Lock them away, girl,” she counseled. “Find some deep, dark place to hide them where no invasions can reach. Life is a secret,” she said, “and one you can’t share but got to let others find themselves.”

She likes to keep her secrets in that box, though, like a drawer. Ready, perhaps, for the person with the right key. Sometimes she thinks she sees it in that mirror on the wall, swinging and flashing with her hair and her dress. But she is too afraid to grab it. And, gods, you should see her dance.

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