ODU Echoes

Almost the last thing I did before leaving last year’s ODU Literary Festival, Colonial Encounters, was beg a story off a young ODU teacher named Princess Perry.

The story she gave me was “Color Struck.” I read it in the fall, in the middle of the busiest semester (thus far) of my life. I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

Below is an excerpt.

Princess Perry teaches English at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Panama. Her story “James and Samuel” is forthcoming in Harrington Gay Men’s Literary Journal.

From a short story, “Color Struck”:

The doors of their tiny, tidy house stood open. Curtains lofted on the breeze. The scrubbed floor dried. A foot path that led from the front of the house to the back was edged in scarlet four o’clocks. In the backyard, an iron pot, blackened by years of use cooled in warm ashes set far from the garden of pole beans, collard and mustard greens. Boys of five and seven, as wild as any deer in the woods, chased around the yard. A toddling girl stumbled as she tried to keep up. They were good-looking children with fast, dirty-gold curls, fat cheeks and sturdy limbs. Not one of them was the same shade. Not one of them as pale as the mother or dark as the father. The parents were made over as children. Contented. Simple brown.

Over by the clothesline, Kate and Soot basked in mundane happiness. The breeze loosened Kate’s hair, blew it into her eyes as she stretched to pin a skirt. Soot shifted the basket, freed one hand, and pushed the locks behind her ear. Above them, the sky was blue and nothing less, wiped clean as the kitchen table, cloudless, fit for a plain love: Kate in a house dress with ripped pockets, pinning up socks and diapers; Soot barefoot, his shirt unbuttoned, romancing her by carrying the basket.

Alveeta halted in front of the house of Soot and Kate to throw out that cherry soda and was struck with tunnel vision. She did not see the uncertain start, the years of effort, the deliberately made life: open house, prancing children, a garden painstakingly sewn.

Alveeta saw only Soot’s black hand gently brush Kate’s white face.”

If you liked this passage and want to read more, you can contact Princess at: princess_perry_1999@yahoo.com.

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