Chris had never seen such a thing. Her pursed lips and lowered lashes lent her face all the gentleness of a mother. Her translucent silk blouse shimmered with every breath she blew. The candlelight accentuated the shapes and movements of the body underneath. She bent her neck, tilted the cup, and touched her lips briefly to the surface of the tea. And then she wiped her lips with the back of one hand and returned the cup to him with the other. She barely smiled.
He was sure he'd never seen a woman do such things before. He just stared. He couldn't figure out what made her movements so tempting--such a new and different temptation.
Fusang waited a moment, with a fairly good idea of what he was going through. She crossed the room and trimmed a candle wick that didn't need it. Then, instead of returning to her seat, she walked over and stood before him. Her smile wasn't the sort she'd ordinarily give a twelve-year-old boy. As if a boy his age deserved such a smile, such wholehearted anticipation.
Chris didn't move. She was standing two feet in front of him, making it so easy for him, yet he didn't move. He felt her hand coming toward him and stop on his shoulder. He felt her full round breasts rise in expectation. And he couldn't move.
At this point, Fusang resorted to saying the dirtiest English words she knew. Her lips and tongue struggled with the earnestness of her effort to make each sound. She said these words with complete sincerity.
They lost their meanings instantly. The heart behind the words was so innocent that each syllable became something entirely unfamiliar. The effect was enchanting.
She massaged his earlobes with her fingers, earlobes as tender as tiny buds, so soft her heart trembled.
She really wasn't much taller than he was; she just seemed to be because her body was so developed. When she embraced him, his lips reached her face easily.
Smiling, she pulled away, walked over to the dressing table, and removed her earrings, bracelets, necklace, and hairpins. To Chris, these trinkets brought to mind all the mysteries of the Orient and the ornate intricacies of antiques. Finally, her black hair fell like water, as black and impenetrable as the sky before time began.
She sat down on the bamboo bed, which creaked with her weight, and smoothed the sheet beside her.
The role of the bed suddenly dawned on Chris. The whole filthy building was filled with the banging and creaking of those beds. He got a good look at Fusang's feet. She had taken off her red shoes and then the semisheer pink stockings with two tiny holes in them.
She slowly moved her feet to the edge of the bed.
Chris couldn't believe they were real. He moved closer to them. They seemed to belong to a stage of evolution no one had ever imagined. Unaware of what he was doing, he knelt beside the bed and reached out and touched them. They looked like fishtails--the most sensitive, vulnerable part. How could they be feet? He kept his touch extremely light, afraid they would melt and die.
Fusang had arranged her hair, and was watching him, her whole body ready.
He suddenly smiled. The smile of a boy who thinks he's gotten to the bottom of a big mystery.
Amah yelled from the doorway, Excuse me, sir, are you planning to stay the night?
you had thought of everything:
mangy, crippled, one-eyed. But you were shocked when you turned to the creaking door. You never imagined such a little kid. You bit your lip, bit the sharp sweetness of rouge. The twelve- year-old john had come in.
You could tell he'd dressed up; he wore a gold chain on his vest, a handkerchief in his breast pocket, and his straw-colored hair was slicked back with so much oil that it looked like a cap. You saw right through him from the start. Twelve, tops. Even being white couldn't help disguise his age. The curiosity in his pale blue eyes was almost cruel. Such curiosity is only found in boys that age.
From The Lost Daughter of Happiness, copyright (c) 2001, Hyperion Press. Reproduced with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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