Nancy’s Skin

“If you could, would you be white?” I asked my grandmother, Nancy. I like getting reactions out of her and I was expecting a very strong reproach.

“Wow de” she answered, her eyes on me. The affirmative makes my jaw drop in shock.

“Quoi?!” Why?

“Look at this..” I think she is picking at invisible blemishes on her wrist until I realize she is indicating her skin color in general. Her lips turn downward. “Look at that”

“But..but it’s your skin”

“C’est pas bon de. It’s not good. It’s not pretty. I like white skin, like you and Saint Bernadette (she points to the altar in the room). I look at her skin, blue-black in the dim light.

“But I think it’s beautiful.” My nose burns. Tears well up.

“I like white skin, like you and Saint Bernadette”, she repeats and the power goes out.