Post Classifieds

Heat Wave part IV

By Matthew Draughter
On February 6, 2014

  • A woman shows distaste for Loyola's production of The Vagina Monologues. A group gathered in 'prayerful protest' March 4. Rachel Strassel


Keziah and her mother sat in the kitchen under a chandelier of bones and candles as the grandmother waddled over to the pot of gumbo, stirring it once more. Keziah's grandmother had a way about stirring the gumbo pot; it was almost magical.
Keziah sat at the table, looking into the faces of the women she couldn't escape. Her grandmother fiddled with the rings on her fingers and her many bracelets as she looked at her daughter and grandchild, longingly, like she was looking for meaning in one of their souls.
"You alright, baby?" The old woman looked closer into Keziah's face. "You look spooked. Karen, what's wrong wit' the girl?"
Keziah's face lit up, and sweat dripped down the sides of her face as she looked from her mother to her grandmother.
"Nothing's wrong with her. She's just tired," said Keziah's mother, turning away from the old woman to look out the window.
"Look at the girl! She sweatin' like she's been sittin' in a sauna," yelled the grandmother across the table.
As Keziah looked at the two bickering women, she could feel the heat from the night before running up her spine. She could hear the rain pattering on the windowpanes, the sound of children's footsteps on the playground from that afternoon.
She felt time stop in the mix of the heat: her mother glaring at her grandmother, the ongoing argument between mother and daughter, the bubbling of the gumbo pot. Keziah felt the heat sink into the room, and for that moment, she felt one with the heat.
Then, she crashed. Keziah plopped back down into her chair and looked around her, realizing nothing had changed. Her mother and her grandmother were still arguing. Keziah took a breath, backed out of her chair and went outside.
By the time the sun went down, the arguing had ceased and the three women found themselves at the kitchen table again. Keziah's mother was getting ready to get back on the road.
"Mom, I'll be on my way," her mother said as her grandmother followed her to the front door.
Keziah sat at the table with her gumbo, leaning back, trying to listen to the conversation the two were having as they walked to the door. Their voices finally got smaller and smaller and Keziah gave up. She turned to the gumbo.
The warmth she got from the bowl ran through her. She slurped and smiled as she sucked the last drop from the bowl. She wanted more.
Keziah tried to reach for her grandmother's bowl, but it was too far away. She pointed her fingers towards the bowl. First, the car. Then, the boy at school. Her hands quivered as she focused on the bowl, but she wasn't pulling it closer, just pushing it away. Her face reddened as the gumbo shook, drops of liquid swirled as the bowl tipped back and forth. Her hand quivered in the heat.
Keziah felt the bowl shake one last time as the door shut - her grandmother was coming back. The footsteps drew near, echoing the sound of the gumbo splashing along the floor, as the shattering of ceramic reverberated through the house.

Matthew Draughter can be reached at

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