Under the Veil

Tamekia had no grace. None of them did. Yet even the most awkward dancers moved with an unstable kind of beauty. “No Barbie toes!” Shari, the instructor, called out. “Use the balls of your feet, Tami.” Tamekia rocked down, so her heels weren’t so high in the air.

TamekiaStoryThe class was working on the taqsim, with its gentle vertical motion. “I think I got this figure eight thing.” A woman at the end of the line herked her hips up and down.

“You’re getting there! I can tell you’ve been working on it. You’re all getting better. At the end of six weeks, you’re going to be amazing.”

Without meaning to, Tamikia let her thoughts wander away from belly dancing. She wondered what her daughter was doing right now. Had Beth gotten home from school? Did Grandma Jean remember to give her fruit instead of cookies for an afternoon snack. Would they be around this evening, if Tamikia was allowed to call?

Her psychologist told her not to worry about these things, to let the outside world take care of itself and focus inward, to take things one day at a time. She all but forced Tami to sign up for the dance class. Tami didn’t think her counselor had ever handed her only child into the custody of her ex’s mother.

“I’ll take good care of her,” Grandma Jean had said. “And when you get out, I’ll take good care of you, too, honey. But you can’t go messing around with that son of mine. He’s dangerous, unpredictable.”

Tami and her cellmate counted down to freedom every morning. Every night, Tami went to sleep with Beth’s image in her mind. “I’ll do better by you baby. For both of us,” she swore.

Shari put one hand on Tamekia’s stomach and another on her rear end, then pushed, drawing the younger woman out of her reverie. “Remember to tuck in. You want that…”

“… right. Stable core.”

Shari smiled. “Exactly.”


About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


Under the Veil — 21 Comments

  1. Oh.
    the feelings you evoke by just setting a scene, telling us the story.
    Sometimes you need to hit the bottom to be ready to rise up, even dance.

    I love how the exercise, the mere practice of moving your body in a different way can coax you into a new phase of your life (like yoga was/is doing for me) and that touch within your personal space can urge that change.

    for anyone who wanted a new start and a person who believed in it , this was perfect.
    Hop over and visit Kir’s recent post Someone Like You Makes it All Worth WhileMy Profile

  2. Is this just a stand alone story???
    I want to know what happened to her and how she ended up there. I want to know about that son of Mama Jean..
    I love how Shari interrupts Tami’s reverie but her thoughts are linked to the dancing – stable core for her daughter and in dancing. (I can’t explain it correctly but yes something like that).
    Hop over and visit Shanique’s recent post The Pleasure of GraceMy Profile

    • The beauty of Trifecta is that I don’t know. At the moment, yes, Tamekia’s story is completely un-fleshed out. Having that short space to tell the story in gives me the freedom to capture her in one moment without having to worry about how I would tell the before and after. But sometimes, that freedom leads to a scene that I CAN easily translate into something longer, and she feels like she has a lot to say if I can shut up and listen.

      There’s a program here in Montgomery called Aid to Inmate mothers, and I’d really like to interview some of the women who have completed the program to get a stronger sense of who this character might be before I try to ride anywhere with her, though.

    • I knew it had to be dance when I saw ‘grace’ on Monday, but I couldn’t figure out what kind. I’ve written too much about Sam and Caroline and ballet. But I’ve taken belly dancing classes (SO much fun, btw), and the instructor would compare belly dancing to ballet by saying that ballerinas had to stand up on their “Barbie toes”. I was thinking about this story and ballet this morning when “Barbie toes” popped in, and that was how I got to belly dancing. Now why in the hell they had to be in a prison, I have no idea. No, that’s not true. I had to figure out the character’s name before I could decide WHY she was belly dancing, and I played around with several. There was a Sherelle who would have been an intelligent woman trapped in a downward spiralling relationship. There was a Misty who would have been this country kid going to college in the city trying to get out of the phys ed requirement but finding something she liked. Tamekia was the one who spoke to me, because I had no idea what she was doing until she started thinking about her daughter.

    • Yay! Thank you! I’m loving that everybody followed the stability references throughout. Sometimes, I can go off on my own little obscure tangent and nobody comes along for the ride.

  3. Ha, Barbie toes! I never thought of it that way. Now I’ll be conscious of it all of the time.
    Great work with the prompt!

  4. I like how the dance is a metaphor for life. She’s obviously tumbled to get to where she is now. Just as she needs to be more stable and graceful in her movements, she needs to live a more stable, graceful life. Well done!

    By the way, I enjoyed reading your responses to the comments. They provide a rare glimpse into your process for arriving at this story. Cool! 🙂
    Hop over and visit Ivy (Mommy Dourest)’s recent post If You Think This Blog Is Written by Someone of Limited Intelligence …My Profile

    • This one was really fun to write, and it came on in a series of memorable steps. The conversations are the best part of blogging. I hate that I’ve been so swamped lately that I’ve barely said hello to people on my own blog (let alone on theirs! I wind up going along the read-and-dash method), and it’s nice to have a semi-slow day once in awhile when I can converse and build community.

    • I took classes for awhile in Lexington, on and off, but I never got very good. I can semi-roll my stomach, and I can rock on my feet and do another couple of kind of cool tricks, but the really awesome stuff is way above my head.

  5. I found the kernels of 8-10 stories in these few paragraphs. Amazing how you get so much in so few well-crafted words, and you probably dash them down in a smidge of time, which turns me grass green. Excellent. Thanks for sharing.