Her eyes are suspicious, darting left to right to left, her unfixed gaze uneasy. Her shoulders are hunched over her mocha as she sips impatiently, one scalding gulp after another. She swallows hard. The magenta polish on her nails looks forcefully chipped as if someone had used a chisel to remove it. Later we’ll find that she scrapes off her polish as a nervous habit. She worries often about what she wants to do, what she needs to do, what she’s expected to do. But now, we’re in ‘Aroma’, the coffee shop with a small swinging door that has a coffee bean shaped door handle. The red brick interior is cold yet inviting. It’s small, six tables, and a few scattered stools. Many people just order their coffee and leave but not her. She sits. Sits and sips. Sits and sips and waits. Her right foot on top of her left foot, tapping anxiously. “This is for you”, the barista hands her a neatly folded napkin with her name in italics on the front “Tolani”, the “T” towers over the other letters as they slant towards the right. She wishes she were as tall and as brave as the “T” seemed. She wishes she had someone to tower over. She often feels this way, like she is less than a pawn in her surroundings. She watches her sisters, both married and successful. A lawyer and an investment banker, she remains undecided. She’s not brave enough to make one decision, to choose one path in which she must stick to. They have families; Esther has three children, a set of twin girls and a son, all less than 3 years old. While, Ngozi is newly wed and pregnant with her first child.
She opens the note, “I can see you sitting there, sipping on your drink. A mocha? Low fat milk? Whip cream? I’ve been watching, I know what you like and I am waiting. See you tomorrow” she puts the note down and takes another gulp of her mocha, she places the cup on the note leaving a brown ring on the lightly crumpled napkin. The barista comes and gives her another napkin “excuse me again” she peers up and catches his deep blue pools. His skin tone is dark but smooth. She imagines his name is ‘Midnight’, his eyes look like big full moons on his face, the darkness of his complexion along with the brightness of his eyes make him look unlike anything she’s ever seen. Attractive. This time the napkin has three prices on it. “£506 £2469 £400”. She puts the napkin down and sinks her face into her palms, Midnight taps her shoulder, “is everything alright here”. She nods but he knows she’s lying. He sits opposite her and waits. She looks up with her face still in her palms, her eyes are red and dark almost blending in with her skin but they’re dry. They stare at each other, she inspects his face for a sign of trust, she needs trust. She wants trust. He smiles faintly and his eyes sympathize with hers. She sighs, her shoulders hunching deeper towards her chest, she knows she should sit straight, her mother is forever telling her the side effects from a hunched back. Bad posture, sagging breasts, she argues that her 34D breast swill sag whether she hunches or not and it hurts for her to stand straight. The hunch seems appropriate at this time but she quickly sits up trying to keep up the appearance that she is in fact fine. Maybe she thinks this will persuade Midnight, make him go away and distract someone else with his beauty. It doesn’t, he sits in silence patiently waiting for her to speak. She doesn’t and they both listen to the silence between them and the hustle and bustle in the near distance of crashing mugs and saucers and industrial size coffee machines. She gets up to leave, turning her back on Midnight “thank you” she mumbles under her breath, barely audible. “you’re welcome Tolani” his deep tone sends a chill down her spine, it doesn’t scare her but rather comforts her, she wants to feel it again. She stumbles out of the coffee shop and walks home alone. Midnight starts to clear the table and notices she has left her napkin notes and her scarf. He puts the notes in his pocket and picks up her scarf, the blueberry and vanilla scent that she wears every other day lingers on it. He likes it. He throws it over his shoulder and continues to clean the table.
I’m young and I’m black surrounded by cr-
the glamorisation of the latest material trends, addidas and nik-e
all want a bit of me. Focus on my inside they won’t let me.
I’m young and I’m black surrounded by cr-hyped up frivilous spending. The bilboards and adverts brainwashing,
telling me what I need and how I could, should, get
maintaing the poorer me.
I’m young and I’m black surrounded by cr-baby mums, baby dads, babies missing out on lives they could’ve had
broken families, dreams deferred, papa’s struggling for that life, preferred
I’m young and I’m black surrounded by cr-
pimps and hoes dominate boys and girls
5 year olds advertising what they don’t have
12 year olds locked up for murder
I’m young and I’m black surrounded by cr-government officials disconnected from society
livin’ up in italy feating on spaghetti
disconnected from reality
evicting poor families
I’m young and I’m black surrounded by crack.
I’m Clive. J. Brown. I’m a scribbler. Enjoy.