Dominique crept into my room last night. Came through the balcony door. Deep inside, I knew she’d be back; she’s been visiting me quite often the past few days. She came with me to New York; she ate dinner with me; she sat on the patio and helped me count the stars. Wherever I am, she’s right there beside me: guiding me, rubbing my back, holding my hand. She doesn’t speak much; I think she’s waiting for me to become used to her presence before she starts chatting my ear off with commands. She does give these telling looks though. Her eyebrow will arch a certain angle or her lips will curve a particular way, and her eyes always have the most obvious phrases glistening in them: “You’d better find that backbone that God gave you!” and “Get your sh*t together, Roz, before I do it for you” are her most commonly thrown stares. And I don’t dare argue. Because when Dominique speaks, she speaks. Even if only with a couple onyx pupils, peppered by an occasional blink, instead of using lips and tongue. Everything she does is so intense… She doesn’t move; she trail-blazes. Every movement is an orchestrated event, each motion in symphony with the other. It’s beautiful. I watch her and try to memorize her movements in my head for future playback.
It was after 2 am when she sashayed into my bedroom in black tights and a white tank top. Oh, and black boot heels, of course. Had to have her leather fix. Her hair was swept up into a high ponytail, fastened by what looked like a spiked dog collar hair clip, and she had on her signature candy red lipstick. I could see red bra straps peeking out of their place, and a few silver bangles decorated her arms. She arched her back and raised her arms to the sky as if stretching out a well deserved nap. We made eye contact as I lay in my bed, vacantly counting sheep. She yawned, smiled and sat on my bedside. I waited for her to speak.
“I painted my nails black,” I said, slicing the silence and closing my eyes as she relaxed on her back beside me.
“Black is a powerful color,” she said, slipping her hand into mine. “I watched you pick the polish. Good choice. Sexy.”
“I won’t lie. I love it. It just…fits. I feel a bit rebellious. Who knew nail polish could do such a thing.”
“It’s not the polish. It’s you. You’re getting used to the idea of me.”
I opened my eyes and turned towards her. There was just something that I had to know. “What took you so long to come to me?” I asked. “I mean…23 years and a heartbreak later, you show up in a dream. Why?”
She shifted and got under the sheets with me. “When you curse out people for their ignorance, or when you graduated from college with two majors when you could barely finish one, or when you pierced your belly button last summer just because… Was that you, or me?”
I paused. I guess I’ve managed to accomplish some bold things on my own, and I guess she was right there with me during those moments, too. I only recently was able to acknowledge her existence within me.
“Roz,” she said, taking out a stick of peppermint gum, “you are your best friend and worst enemy. Only you can hurt yourself. No one else can hurt you without your permission. The strength that you think I possess is simply the strength that you have yet to accept in yourself. I won’t be by your side forever. At some point, you have to let us become one. Right now, you’re just beside yourself.” She placed the gum on her tongue and chewed it slowly. “So…what’s up with the ring?” she asked.
I looked down at my left hand at my newest piece of jewelry. I bought it while in Philly waiting for my connection flight. It’s a sterling silver ring with a dime-sized heart on top, its center filled with a black stone. “As if you don’t already know. This was definitely influenced by you. I don’t know what made me buy it… I saw it and immediately fell in love with it. And when I tried it on, I just never took it off. Bought it just like that, with it on my finger. It makes me feel–wait…” I paused for a moment. This heffa must have known why I picked out this particular ring. “You picked it out for me, didn’t you? You were with me, in the jewelry store?”
She made that Mona Lisa smile again. “Well, it goes well with the black polish. Very good combination. That ring…You should wear it for as long as you need to be reminded how strong you are. You’re tougher than you realize. So, maybe I had a little to do with the choice.”
I smiled back. “Thanks, Dominique. It’s not going to come off.”
“Do what you gotta do. You feel stronger to me. I love your energy these days. Remember that you were hurt during your moments of weakness. It’s your moments of strength that you have to keep in mind.”
“I know. Thanks.” I played with the ring as she got out of bed and headed back to the balcony door. “Dominique?” I called, before she exited.
“The black nail polish… Was that you, too?”
She smiled. “Nope. That move was all you.” Moments later I was alone again, but deep down, I knew that I wasn’t really by myself. I curled back up in my sheets and closed my eyes, ready to rest in preparation for another day.