When I read Karintha I think about Preacher. His hands were thick and covered in white ash like chalk over black pavement. He would grab my wrists and as I twisted my arm around to get away the inside of his hand ground into my small arm. I was around five with hair down my back that Aunt Denise said made me look like a China doll. Preacher smelled like dirt and whiskey and he was so black he scared me. He always wanted me in his lap, hobby-horse, the point of his dusty pants jutting from in between my knuckle-like knees.
When I read Karintha I think about Kevin Fields. My mama said he got money and we stayed with him at his trailer where I had my own room with a bed in it I was too afraid to sleep in. I played “You Know I’m Bad” on top his gut and hugged him when I was five. At night, I snuck in between them to sleep. And, in the night, with my mama on the other side, his fingers went in between.
“O can’t you see it, O can’t you see it.”
When I read Karintha I think about Lonnie. I was thirteen, I know for sure. He was drunk…just like everyone else in the house…so drunk how could he remember what he did and I was lying anyway. Lonnie was my cousin Tonya’s daddy. He smiled a whole lot. People liked him. He came in my room that night and touched my big breast. He told me not to tell. I did. Grandma said I thought I was grown.
When I read Karintha I think about Damien. The preacher’s son. He was a senior and had a car. He took my virginity on his bedroom floor when I was fourteen. I cried and asked him to take me home. He bought me jewelry and said he loved me. He had big teeth and a thin bony face. I told him he made me sick. Jamaal punched him out in the cafeteria at lunch and his feet flew up over his head. I broke up with him and did it with Jamaal who made me cry on the bathroom floor cause I loved him so much.
“Her skin is like dusk on the eastern horizon.”
When I read Karintha I think about Leland, Poodie, Tanky, Nema, Masud, Jide, the Police Officer, that divorced guy, Pat, Kenan, Kegan, Kyle, Kwame, Kenyon, my old boss Chad, Chad’s roommate, I think about telling that one guy his thing was too small after he bought me a pair of Timbs, I begged him not to leave, I made Harry come get his shit, I think about cheating on Neil in the Bahamas, I think about that guy in Miami and walking through the streets of South Beach too drunk to know if I had said yes when I really meant no.
“. . . When the sun goes down.”
 “Karintha” is a short story found in Jean Toomer’s novel Cane.
Tyrese L. Coleman is a M.A. candidate in the Writing Program at Johns Hopkins University. She studied English Language and Literature at the University of Maryland, College Park. This is her first published piece.