Just another girl taking the #2 train uptown on a typical Friday night. Nothing special about Kendra Wallace stood out. MP3 player in her pocket. Sleek Star trek like earphones adorned her ears like they were custom tailored for her. Her ace metrical black bob highlighted with baby blonde streaks, garnished with a swooped bang made Kendra look like an undiscovered top model.
It was flawless how her bangs hung at just the right height to expose her Egyptian shaped eyebrows, that were only upstaged by her naturally long eyelashes and piercing round grey eyes. On just the right day with the right light, if you looked into those beautiful eyes, you would catch a glimmer of emerald green gracefully blended in with the grey. But that’s only if someone did catch Kendra’s eye or vice versa, one would automatically become unarmed and taken in delicate fairness. Behind those shimmery smoky grey eyes, were a sense of sadness and confused longing? For what? Kendra herself did not know.
Dressed up in here form fitting vintage dark blue (faded just enough to be in style) Gitano jeans, snuggled comfortably in here weather beaten mahogany leather riding boots that come just above the
Shin. Accentuating the ensemble is her mother’s 1980’s Sting and the Police concert T-shirt. (Which she borrowed without asking). Three plastic bangles (two red and one white) on her right arm and a coral colored beaded chocker around her neck. Two earrings in each ear.
In the first holes were some dangling black and red stripped hoops. (Only to complement the red and white cotton bandana on her left wrist with the pointy lip facing out, as to make some kind of unspoken rebel declaration).
Her long petite European nose stopped promptly mid face before meeting with her supple half-moon lips. The middle of her top lip made such a perfect dip as to give the appearance of a heart shaped kiss. Kendra’s oval shaped face was outlined by her distinctly defined jaw line (which developed as a result of her clinching her jaw since she was eight.)
Only to be soften by those Ethiopian high cheek bones. Kendra was very self conscience about her looks (and her weight), so she would often look down so as to let her mid cropped tresses sway to obscure how attractive she is. Staring into space with that common unimpressed with life, but in a hurry to be somewhere look, while listening to Green Day’s “September” followed by the Arrhythmic “Sweet Dreams”.
Kendra pondered the lyrics of the last song and wandered if all people were alike and did they want to use and abuse her. If so, would she know? “How would I recognize them?” She thought to herself.
Kendra often allowed her mind to subscribe and entertain the ideas of political, cultural and scientific conspiracy theories. For safety, she flashed to 1996 when she and her brother Myles would watch Saturday morning cartoons. They would race from their bedrooms to the living room to watch X-Men, Captain Planet, Batman and Rin and Stimpy. The first person to grab the remote was the “Captain” (the person in charge of the TV.), while the other person was dubbed the “Buccaneer”.
On most occasions Kendra willingly forfeited her claim to helm of the ship. She was content to “swap the deck” (straighten the living room) and “fetch some vittles” (fix breakfast), and at any given time, the first mate would have to walk the plank (sit on the worn out bean bag chair and get tossed out of it, without a moment’s notice from the captain.)
Kendra reminisced often of the times she and Myles (Mealy Myles was his pet name for him since she was three and their parents brought him home from the hospital.) Kendra always called Mealy Mouse her baby bradder. So it was she counted it a small thing to sacrifice watching Pepper Ann, the Puzzle Place and Sailor Moon in order to appease her only sibling and best friend.
Those Saturday mornings was a sacred and connection between them. They would read each other mood and act accordingly without ever having to say word besides “don’t forget the ketchup on my eggs” Up until Myles was 13 years old, she would never forget to put the ketchup on his eggs.
Her beloved younger was her hero and she was his. They shared secrets, pulled pranks on each other and when the darkness came, held hands and prayed together. It was dark in Kendra’s life now, but there was no one to hold her hand. The thought of emptiness and longing overshadowed her.
A sensation of desperation and regret mingled together in her heart. Fiercely desiring to go back to 1994 and see her little five year old brother. If only she could have told him not to run outside when he was 13. Would that have prevented…? If only there was a God. Why would He allow…? If only!
One of Kendra’s eyes innocently released a tear as a reflex to the feelings stifled in her heart. The helpless wet droplet’s journey was abruptly aborted mid cheek, before it could complete its destination. Kendra violently wiped smeared the water into her crushed cranberry blush.
She held her breath and made herself blink a lot and bite the skin off her bottom lip, all just to avoid the unresolved feelings she thought she had buried along with him.
But she knew she could never successfully hide from them forever, because she would always hear them calling in his voice. Ollie Ollie Oxen Free. The silver bullet of salvation came screeching up just in time.
“Thank God”! Kendra said as a frustrated figure of speech. She made her dash to be one of the first one’s inside. Otherwise she would have to suffer being pushed, shoved and stepped on. Stuck in the middle with the other losers who have body odor, a crooked smile and wondering hands. “Nope”.
“Not this time”. “Not missing a chance to cop a primo seat before the cripple and the crazy get it.
I gave my seat to some old lady last time.” Kendra thought to herself. “Don’t I deserve a break sometimes?” It’s a “dog eat dog world” out there. “Anybody who takes mass transit knows this”.
Kendra recalled telling this to a tourist once. (10 months ago)
The tourist had asked Kendra for directions. Kendra smiled a warm familiar smile (only seen occasionally) and recalled telling that same tourist that the #1A) Rule in taking the train is: Know where you’re going. Closely followed by #1B) the previously stated Rule: Dog eat Dog. Kendra told the 25 year old from Nebraska that 1A was married to 1B and they are the parents of 1C: Be Alert and Stay out the Way!
Because the young lady was from Nebraska, Kendra automatically assumed MaraLee grew up on a farm somewhere. Baking apple pies, callin’ pigs and pluckin’ chickens. (Which MaraLee did do until the age of 12,where she moved to Indianapolis, IN to be raised by her maternal grandmother)
Unbeknownst to Kendra, MaraLee had some life’s misfortune of her own and only moved back to Omaha to help her ailing father. But MaraLee didn’t mind Kendra presuming the role of Inner City Jungle Professor.
Kendra remembers after the lively conversation that followed, before MarLee got off,
Kendra reminded her of the: Clutch, Keep, and Push. (Clutch your bag, keep it in front of you, and push your way forward) Kendra learned a little about MaraLee and felt foolish for making a rush to judgment about her. She got use to people misunderstanding her, namely her parents, so Kendra made an automatic reflex to put up a wall of defense. A paradox thought came to her. “How will I get to know anyone, if I don’t allow them to get to know me? How do I let them in?
She quickly that thought away with a new successor “I don’t need anybody!” But the former thought prevailed and boomeranged back into her mind; is there anybody out there worth knowing? Does anybody want to get to know me? If only?
Sat there in her seat of, hard puke pumpkin orange plastic. An elderly lady took a seat next to her. Kendra turned up her MP3 player just in case the old lady wanted to talk. Kendra thought it was odd the old lady didn’t smell like…you know old lady (e.g. banana bread, Ben Gay, Tapioca Pudding and Peppermint candy) Instead the old lady smelt nice. She smelt like life!
Kendra said in a barely audible timid voice “You smell nice” (not wanting to start a conversation) to the old lady. “Thank You”. Wow. She must have some kinda hearing aide. Kendra thought to herself.
Kendra saw the old lady respected Kendra’s privacy, but Kendra couldn’t restrain herself from asking and blurted out “What are you wearing?” Everything in her mind told her not to ask “you’ll regret this.” Ask one question now and she’ll out talk you to death. You’ll be in your grave before she will! But Kendra just had to know about…
The smell brought a familiarity to her heart. So she did it. Kendra Wallace started her first conversation with an old lady. With anybody in a long time for that matter.
The old lady knowing full well what Kendra meant replied “What is what dear?” “What are you wearing Kendra replied curtly?” “Clothes,” replied the old lady, gingerly but with a sharp look in her eyes with an invitation of love attached to convey to the young girl; talk to me. Take my heart inside of yours for I am gentle and lowly…
The old lady asked Kendra her name. Kendra looked down and rolled her eyes and thought “Here we go.” Kendra stated her name while her head remained slightly tilted towards the floor. The old lady extended her hands and said “I’m Claude”.