Girl, Woman, Other

Bernardine Evaristo

Later that day she was introduced to the concept of walking just for pleasure.

Her morning mantra in the bathroom mirror. I am highly presentable, likeable, clubbable, relatable, promotable and successful.

You English people, I want to tell those dirty-lookers, should ask me how to shop in this country because we immigrants are much cleverer at it than you, we refuse to pay ridicolous amounts for spices simply because they are in pretty little glass jars with a 'scattering of cardamom pods' or 'fine strands of saffron' on the label. what is scattering? tell me now? or 'a generous pinch'? is it a pound or a kilo?

Penelope came to the conclusion that marrying someone when you're in love with them was perhaps not such a good idea, better to wait a few years (ten, twenty, thirty, never?) to see if you're still compatible after the passion has subsided and reality set in.

She spent the first few hours in her newly independent republic staring out of a window that framed a small square of pure sky. all hers

so Bibi had been born a man and was now a woman, Megan had wondered, daren't ask, she might bite her head off. and Megan was a woman who wondered if she should have been born a man, who was attracted to a woman who'd once been a man, who was now saying gender was full of misguided expectations anyway, even though she had herself transitioned from male to female. this was such head fuckery.

Everything changed, Ma, once me and my Hattie found each other, it was like I came out of the darkness and into the light and could love her as I should. I wish you'd seen me spoil her, Ma, let her get her own way with everything because I couldn't say no to anything she wanted, until Joseph stepped in and said I was ruining her. I wish you'd seen how Joseph and Hattie adored each other, how he made no concessions for her being a girl, how she followed him around copying everything he did. I wish you'd seen Hattie grow strong, tough and tall, Ma, see her learn to plough, sow, thresh, drive bales of hay on the tractor from the fields to the barns. I wish you were around to be her grandma, to tell her what it was like for you growing up, and stories about me from when I was too young to remember. I wish you'd not died so young, Ma, seen how well I was looked after in the home, how I learned to walk in shoes, had clean water and fresh food and learned many things.

In any case, neither his blackness nor his gayness are the result of conscious political decisions, the former is genetically determined, the latter psychically and psychologically pre-disposed. Where they will remain, not as intellectual or activist preoccupations but rather as footnotes.