Robert woke up during the night with a switchblade at his throat. Dinah was wearing an oversized t-shirt with an image of Nina Simone on it, looking at him with piercing red eyes that were not seeing him. She seemed to be in a trance. He wanted to move her, but didn’t dare try.
Slowly, the tension in her muscles relaxed and her brown eyes dilated. She looked around quickly, trying to figure out where she was and then looked at Robert with wide, disbelieving eyes.
“I was somewhere else,” she whispered and collapsed on top of his chest, her arm holding the switchblade hanging off the side of the couch.
“I understand,” he said and meant it. He looked into her exhausted eyes and saw himself in a way he hadn’t before, the seriousness of her tension, the deliberate pain she was inflicting on herself, and the subtle pressure of time.
“I’m just gonna curl up here for a minute,” she said and slumped over, resting her head in the crook of his arm. Robert gingerly laid his arms around hers, enthralled by the smell of coconuts. When he woke up in the morning, she was gone.
In the fraction of space reserved for the kitchen, Robert found eggs in the fridge and started scrambling them on the stove with a pan from the cupboard that looked like it was a hundred years old. He cut up an onion, green pepper, and a tomato. He scrambled enough eggs for the whole house. It felt good, doing something for somebody else. He felt like himself. After a moment, Robert realized he was being watched by three sets of eyes. Two robust women with skin the shade of honey and bronze stood beside a dubious looking Dinah.
One of the women laughed. “Dead or alive, I never thought I’d see a white man cook anythin’ fo’ me.”
“You wrong Dinah,” the other woman said and nudged her with her elbow. “This is heaven.”
Dinah turned to Robert. “Hurry up and eat. We have a meeting to go to.”
“W.A. fool. Writers Anonymous.”
“What are you, my sponsor?”
“Actually, I am, so move your butt before I move it for you.”
Other parts of the novel can be found here