Good night, Andy, I said. Please dont call me again.
When I hung up, I heard the sound I had already come to know: a quick creak in the floorboards above me. Razor Blade Babys body shifting. The unpressing of her ear from the floor.
Then Razor Blade Baby came to my door the next morningthis morningI did not say, No. No, thank you. We rode our bicycles to the old Hilton Theatre, down Lake Street. Her hair flapped behind her as though lifted by George Spahns Pennsylvanian swarm.
I bought a hot dog before the matinee from the concession stand. I covered it with mustard, onions, kraut, jalapeños. Razor Blade Baby nervously fingered a Ziploc bag of peeled carrot sticks hidden in her purse.
Here in the theater I know I ought to try, ought to carry that weight, ought to paint over the past. But I can only do my best. I hold my hot dog near her face. Want a bite, Razor Blade Baby?
Claire, she says. I could be your sister.
And though we have known this since she moved inwell beforethis is the first time either of us has said it aloud. And I admit now, it sounds softer than it felt. There is something thankful in the saying.
I nod. Half sister.
The lights in the theater dim. Technicolor figuresghosts, cowboys, Gregory Peckmove across the screen. In Duel in the Sun Pearl Chavez asks, Oh, Vashti, why are you so slow?
I dont rightly know, Miss Pearl, except I always have so much to remember.
Excerpted from Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins. Copyright © 2012 by Claire Vaye Watkins. Excerpted by permission of Riverhead Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
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