Whenever Amanda and I get into a fight she calls me poor. She tells me that, in my country, they sell nappy-headed dark skin girls like me for 20 silver coins and a healthy goat. She says that, if she really wanted to, she could have my boyfriend, she just lets me keep him out of pity. Amanda says that, where I’m from, people are grateful for the little things, like a bit of bread to eat or shoes to wear to tend the fields, and who was I to think that I was any better than they were. This time, Amanda and I were arguing over an expensive gold cross necklace that Amanda’s mother had gotten her from Italy. It had been blessed by the Pope. It was very special. She accused me of stealing it, when she had really just misplaced in one of her coat’s pockets.
I have never, then and up to this day, given her any reason to distrust me so I respond to the accusation by completely freezing, immobilized by a mixture bafflement and embarrassment. I am suddenly aware of my own body, how it compares to Amanda. How you would be able to see her more clearly than I if you were to turn out the lights. I thought about my boyfriend and Amanda basking in an artificial spotlight created by the sun, writhing naked in a patch of my favorite flowers. Amanda gets real close to my face, so close that I can see the veins in her forehead popping out and feel the spit from her tongue spraying all over my nose. Her nostrils begin to flair. I can feel all the blood begin to rush to my head. Amanda is saying that I am poor and ugly and a thief but she seems so far away. Her voice sounds muffled in my ears. She calls me pathetic. She says, “That’s what people are like where you come from.”
Whenever Amanda and I get into a fight, she is always the first to say sorry. She always tells me, after cooling down for a few hours, that she is out of line and that she didn’t mean any of the awful things she said. I want to tell her that it is not okay, that I am leaving and never coming back but I don’t. I just smile meekly when Amanda tells me that she will never, ever do it again and then, she wraps her delicate arms around me and hugs me and the twenty-four karat gold cross hanging from her neck presses up against my chest and it feels so hot, so heavy against my skin, like it will burn right through me, like it is repelling me and saying, just like Amanda, where I come from we do not get nice things. We are lucky to be alive. We should be grateful to be here, in the arms of Amanda, treacherous but still remorseful. We should be so unceasingly pleased.
Later that night, after I tell him what has happened, my boyfriend asks why I keep hanging around Amanda. He says it seems unhealthy and kind of fucked up. He is running his hands through my nappy hair, massaging my dark skin and calling it beautiful underneath his breath and in between phrases. I agree with him but I don’t say it out loud. I tell him “Where I come from, people are happy for what they have and the ones that are still here.”