Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Black Light: Repeating Themes, Nail Polish and an excerpt

Asia looked away.  He didn’t answer, because as much as he wanted to believe everything Trace said, he knew it wouldn’t do any good in three weeks when they got evicted.  Still, when Trace was so close to him, he couldn’t concentrate on that.  He found himself leaning in, letting their arms almost brush before he pulled himself back.  He stared at the chunks of nail polish Trace had flicked onto the sidewalk at his feet.  As Asia watched, an army of ants converged on them, bickering over them, picking them up, carrying them off.  Trace continued talking, not even noticing.  He had no idea that he was the god in their world, casting pieces of sky down to them.

It’s been mentioned that I have a fascination for blue nail polish (the color of Trace’s polish here) that could be evident in this book. That might be true. In high school nail polish at the drugstore wasn’t a reality for me yet. My mother didn’t approve of the colors I saw boys wearing on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. Iggy Pop wore black nail polish—that was certainly not in the approved pallet. I wore Avon, in colors of Blush and Pinkly. Yes, that was back in the day of the Avon Lady that came to the house. 

Black, though, was elusive, even after I started driving. At least is was in my small home town.  The color I remember wearing most, was that metallic light blue that Wet and Wild made. It was .99 cents a bottle, and it flaked off as soon as you put it on, no matter how many coats you gave the job.

What does that have to do with Trace? Because things repeat themselves. Trace wears that same blue nail polish, and then later, Asia notices, after Trace, that Mica is wearing it too. It connects what was to what will be for Asia.

 And fiction echoes life, even if that reflection is sometimes distorted. This little excerpt above is actually an echo of my childhood. I have a clear memory of sitting with my best friend on her parent’s front porch, in the cool of a Michigan evening. I don’t know what we were talking about, but I remember watching her chip off that sky blue polish, and the ants racing from the sidewalk cracks to drag it away. It is also the only clear memory I have of thinking, “I’m in love with her.”  As the ants stole the polish I thought, “I can never ever say that out loud.”
The scene wasn’t in the first draft of Black Light. Somehow it re-surface when I was writing the end. It’s memory that comes to Asia as he regrets his silence and dreams about what he should have said.