Jessica Felicity Kasiama writes to "rediscover its place in time through an origin story of womanhood found in the subconscious."
The Red Summer, a season of blood and segregation, refers to the race riots that took place during the summer and early autumn in the United States in the year 1919. Haunted by our history, we live now in a pink summer: mending, breaking, remembering and forgetting. pink summer is a prose piece, trying to rediscover its place in time through an origin story of womanhood found in the subconscious.
i. Girl is king: double edged sword with flesh pillow soft.
She fixes her eyes on the sun as it bobs along the sky, floating between night and day. Girl moves serpentine, slithering into the dreamscape with a mouthful of barbed wire, possessed by a soft hunger. She focuses on the kill and crawls across its subconscious, oscillating from life to the fantasy woven in sleep. Girl slips away from her own body as many do. “I’ll be back soon, I promise.”
Bewildered by the warmth of a newly born night, she becomes an instrument of the supernatural. The moon, suspended in an argument with gravity, examines the metamorphosis and smiles. She feels her youth and is comforted by a supercut of taste and noise: liquor slipping down the throat, a boy’s arm comfortably slung around her shoulders, their bodies creating a cocoon of sorts. Disembodied now, she remembers the hum of a white box fan that sat beneath the shut window. The room was hot, conversation buzzed: desire lived here and synced to her escaping pulse. Young people jammed into a forbidden basement, trading secrets over poison stolen from kitchen cupboards and medicine cabinets. Hovering over this memory, woman sparkles for a thin moment and breaks ties to it all.
“I’ll be back soon, I promise. History will understand that I am not of this dimension.”
ii. Girl is mutant: boiling beneath her own skin, an extension of a sharp nothingness.
The colours peel away from themselves (first blue and then red, orange, yellow) until there is a grey wall. Four of them, enclosing around her. Her tender, whole body sighs as the vertigo slips away, giving her the opportunity to reclaim control and begin her investigation. She presses herself against the cool wall, searching for any indication of sound or action. The room she occupies is empty, save for a hairbrush and a lantern chandelier dangling from the ceiling. “What am I meant to see here?”
The wall rumbles, as if troubled by an upset stomach. Something responds in many different voices, at first sounding motherly and then spiteful: “From afar, you were so beautiful, but I’m surprised to see that you are not.”
“What am I meant to see here?” This time with a clenched jaw as the hairs on her neck stand fiercely tall. “I won’t be here long, I promise.”
The voice squeals, hissing like her mother’s tea kettle on the desolate mornings that introduce the work day. “Greedy god-players are free to pass but cannot be saved from what they know. It is the purest form of illusion and hypnosis, when the door reveals what the ego will not show."
iii. Girl is strangled/stirring: with a destroyed throat, surrendering to words that penetrate the exterior. Girl is called Sophia.
The taste of metal on her tongue intensifies, consuming her in pain. She understands that she is not special although able to slip in and out of the projections of the subconscious minds that surround her. She peers through the eyes of the townies in her quiet slice of rural New England and holds onto their memories, secrets and wishes. It is a strange talent that appears inconsistently, but whenever she feels her body evaporating into the stars, she prepares for worlds to reveal themselves. It soothes her to recognize the fire in strangers.
Rising from a bed of tall grass based in the stomach of a marigold field, she escapes her reflections. The yellow-orange stretch of land reminds her of the Sun’s eyes, carved into the Earth’s skin. The sticky young girl holds onto herself, comforted by the cotton ivory dress that hugs her body. She has entered the dream.
There is a woman in the distance, shiny and new, carrying a small child on her back. She sees Sophia and raises her hand, waving carefully. There is something unnatural and almost wolverine about her physiognomy: with the palest skin and lips to match, she has icy blue eyes that approach Sophia with interrogation and delicate piano-player hands. The wolf-like woman puts down the child and encourages her to sit on the grass before her, facing the far thicket that surrounds the field. Sophia takes inventory of the child now: thinly-built with a crown of dark curls that fall to the ground behind her, acorn eyes and brown skin to match. She turns slowly, locking eyes with Sophia and gasps at their resemblance. Sophia brings a finger to her lips, telling the child to hush.
The wolf woman begins to braid the child’s hair, carefully, as if it were a dance. Occasionally, her fingers crack with the urgency of an alarm clock, keeping Sophia on edge. The young one blinks away tears as the woman pulls back her shoulders, asking her to sit still, oscillating between kisses on the cheek and ear as a way to comfort the anxious child.
It is peculiar but never out of place to see such extraordinary things in the dream realm: the woman experiences age rapidly, her own hair spilling into piles of grey on the grass beneath them. Age encloses around her and she becomes small, matching the child. Her fingers become frail but she continues to braid and finger brush with admirable athleticism, breathing cautiously now as if survival were a dance of its own too. The air gives birth to the sound of distant laughter, all while the sky hums with the vibrations of heat and together, they scream: red.
iv. Woman is red: You see red, eating at your flesh and creeping beneath the bed.
(The most violent shade of Father’s least favourite colour, gnawing at you).
Red: You see red, staring into the mirror/staring into face of a girl disgusted.
(I think of warped femininity: thin at the waist, light and penetrated).
(I think of what I can and cannot not be) The way my voice tears beside Man’s inquisition.
Red: You see red, falling out of love and you taste the glass buried beneath promise.
With a female heart, you see red: self mythologizing/dissociating/unbecoming.
Pandora. Eve. Jezebel. Artemis. Mary. Dworkin.
Red: You see red and She follows you through the marigold field,
flowers dying with each stroke of the chase.
Sophia’s eyes surrender, leaving her completely alone in the fantasy.
History will understand that I am not of this dimension.
Wings brush against the cheeks of bodies dangling.
She slips into delirium. Her mind tries to race her body but it’s a loss as her arms steal the child from the hunched over woman, folding uncomfortably into her own age. The old woman stares up at the Girl, tears filling her eyes as she silently begs her to undo everything. The taste of metal is heavy on Sophia’s tongue now, almost slicing through the tissue.
Red: you smell red and beneath your tongue, a pink and waning summer.