"Your mother, so dark, the gypsy. Don't love her. We'll call her something like 'Blackie.'
The French have a particular word for a union like ours, your mother's and mine. It's 'mésalliance', you will remember the word, won't you, girlie? If you do, you'll be ashamed of mom. She wasn't even a virgin when I took her, out of pity, with no dowry. If you don't remember this, it shows how half-gypsy you are, and just as bad."
He sings low and raspy —
"Ring, golden ring,
with scarlet stone at the midriff,
I did so love ya, baby fa,
but you ran out of luck."
One night the girl dreams of drowned bellies floating, glistening like the skin of dolphins, like tips of icebergs caressed by waves, while the disembodied voice calls "do not love her" and the Sun rises.
The silent quicksand of being left in father's care undulates, when Blackie's gone to see father's mother to the train station. With feet of lead her daughter treads through the wet surf, where nothing is permanent, while the Sea taunts her with movement. Down there, by the unnerving freedom of the Sea.
"Do you miss your mom?"
"Are you mad at grandma?"
"Do you want her to die? Answer me. Well, do you?"
The Sea, milk of decomposition, washes the girl's feet. Her days stretch out, unending knotted strings in the hands of drowsy Moiras.
Mother returns. Without delay, she is served her daughter's lugubrious answer on a silver plate of feigned resignation. They drink white wine with their dinner. They never do this, except on vacation. They ask the little girl to recant and repent. They squeeze the bones of her hands, hard, until the bones fit like June bouquets in their own large hands, as they walk a maze of alleyways. The girl would grow thorns, if she could. Mother tells the only joke she knows by heart, the one with the shrink, the two madmen and the lamp. "But, doctor, I cannot sleep with the light on" should come as a punch line, and yet somehow it doesn't. Father tells again of his ancestors, princes who fought the Ottomans in the Middle Ages, and of the wondrous way his feces smell like roses.
The night is always darker by the Sea, even when pierced by the pinpoint lights of departing ships.
They never ask if she understands death. She thinks she does, she ought to. She spied the purple man with the big bloated belly through a fence of twenty squirming grown legs, heard the panting and the "keep kids away". Water streamed from the man's gaping mouth and from his pores, and soaked the sand under him. He looked cold. Large hands clutched her underarms and dragged her away. The man's heart failed, they whispered, and seawater came in, distending his belly. This is why for a long, long time, she knew death is something of the Sea. Something buoyant that comes to you in dreams.
Now she has to give up the harmonica and the book. As a punishment, she might sleep alone, on the hard hotel bed, without Blackie.
" How could you say that. Ungrateful soul, your grandma came all the way to this resort town to bring you cakes."
On nights like this, it's easy to recoil from any horizon. Through pores in walls and in windows, the Sea reaches in, inside her chest, and seeds pearl visions, clanking gold coin necklaces, riots of tarots, and more tarots for sunken caravans.
Much later, in the park, a gypsy cradles her sooty infant on wide hip, with honey lilting voice makes the young lady spit on a banknote, touches her head, shoulders and chest to the sign of the cross, makes the banknote disappear and in a trance chants the future: "Shukar handsome redhead gadjo sailor will love you, rakli. This shows it as clear as the morning dew. Give you five kids to your cunt, five kids to your cunt."
Credulous girl, you credulous rakli, shouldn't have given her the money, hard earned money. You'll never see it back, never, and you'll never be certain.
The audience is a laughing stomping spider.
The infant, utterly silent, feels for mother's breast.
It's final. "Five danci to your cunt". The woman slithers between hedges, her danci nursing now.
The skies change like ages, but nobody sees them anymore; the Sea lies too far, but in waiting.
The truth? That beloved sailor would float to her in a dream, would be with her, and she his mistress. On his wedding night, he would use her menstrual blood to mimic hymeneal blood, to soak into his shirt and necktie as his new wife's fake virgin blood, to boast of it in front of the drunken guests and flesh his lies with a crimson-streaked groom wedding band.
You'll have to believe me. It stands to reason that, on days like this, dream nomads whisper delirium. Sanctioned delirium, it comes to you in sanguine waves. It recognizes you as the estranged offspring you are, and washes off and seals you in with the muscle-red stone mounted hard in the middle of a gold band, a sure sign that they loved you, but you just weren't fortunate enough.