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Wind blew the thirty-year-old white dress across Bernadine’s calves that were as white as heavy cream. Her nipples showed through the sheer chiffon fabric like big brown pennies. On a Creole girl’s body, if she is indeed Creole and not just high-yellah, the most brown you’ll ever see or ever taste is the dark caramel color of her nipples on a milky-white body. Bernadine was so white she was almost see-through. And in the antiquated, junky application of color distinction, even in modern-day Mississippi River decrees and degrees, she was indeed black and indeed fair enough to be considered a “real Creole.” This meant she was touched enough in the head to swirl through antebellum notions, while the soul train of deep blackness still chugged around in her spirit. What version of a brassiere did Bernadine have on in such hot weather today? Or did she forget to put one on all together? In spite of the thick Mississippi mugginess, the gust lifted up the homemade hem to reveal my sister’s thick and salty thighs. Any man that has bitten Bernadine’s legs knows that they are as salty as smoked sausage—and boy, did Bernadine like having her legs bitten by a man. But here she was now, in my brother’s backyard, dipping and posing for photographs in my white dress. Might as well have been her wedding dress the way the cameras came looking for her like she was some fluorescent bride—a Creole candelabra of luminescence for the paparazzi, made up of Cousin Joe, Benoit, and Little Earl.

I am just red with nappy hair, rolls of fat from eating too many three-piece-fried-chickens and fries from Popeye’s in the middle of the night. Nobody ever whistles at me from across the neutral ground. I never hear nobody holler, “Say, Red!” at me, thanks to God, I guess. They save the [End Page 193] whistles for my sister Bernadine, even though nothing on her is “red.” Red is sweet like the plums in Miss Violet’s backyard and plummy like Parrain’s tomatoes for jambalaya. She ain’t red but they call her “Red” anyway—even though she’d shoot you a look if you ever made the mistake of calling her high-yellah. Her ass wagging welcomes whistles. And, my ass? I have no ass even though I am full on meaty in all other places.

All I promised this time was to pick her up from the airport and be done with it. So I don’t know how I came to be here at Bernadine’s cursed birthday party today, witnessing such thievery over my dress, driving her bitchy self around Chackbay in my car wasting my gas. I wished the Lord would have saved my eyes from seeing all this today. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t go to her party ‘cause I couldn’t believe the nerve of the humble request “Madame Queen” Bernadine asked for her fortieth. Plus, Lisa Ledoux had asked me to go to a disco party of hers in Abbeville the same night. I had been planning all around it, already bought my Afro wig. Already started practicing my Wilona-and-Jay-Jay dancing in the mirror.

Bernadine has eight hundred Facebook friends, postings of her with Jay Z, Congo Bongo Man, and Erik Estrada, floods of photos of her surrounded by flouncy, prissy-polished gay guys in tuxedos and dresses: a real life Madonna in the “Material World” video, but without the materials. How could she be so royal and raggedy at the same time? I peer through the window of Facebook, my excited eyes tiny and squinting like little green peas at forty friends. Forty is something, but forty Facebook friends ain’t nothing—nothing but a bunch of weirdos I don’t know, plus Lisa Ledoux. So, how could Bernadine, with all her popularity and friends, be appeased with a small family gathering for her fortieth birthday? Some ice cream and cake? Since when does she want something so humble and really believe that she...

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