Black Jesus and Other Superheroes: Stories by Venita Blackburn:
Faith becomes oddly pretty in a way that makes people wonder whether she might really be ugly. She collects candy, any kind of candy, as long as it has some manufacturer defect. She owned a prized, Siamese peanut M & M, a quadruplet. That one sits in a jar atop a pile of mangled gummy bears, all missing limbs or faceless. The awe of childhood morphs into the horror of puberty. They grow armpit hair, start to smell weird, skunky like sweet smoke and body odor, and fail to notice. Brains get cloudy. Arthritis carves an L shape into Emmanuel’s toes. Hair soft as corn silk peppers the sides of his head. He looks like a boy being siphoned away by some invisible gremlin, and no one can make it stop. Faith leaves him for long periods and says you’re not going to miss anything. He misses everything. When together, they have the sensory capability to detect only food and rap music. Their clothes are designed to frighten, arouse, or camouflage. Music permeates the house from Emmanuel’s room: Tupac, always Tupac. Rhymes of blood, death, and tears beat like an elephant heart in the air vents. Somewhere a hopeless, misguided, futile love persists. Emmanuel turns cruel, ignores Faith when she visits, watches The Creature From the Black Lagoon and The Tingler on an endless loop. He roosts. There is room for malice in their exchanges. She disappears for a while. Even when present, she is absent. He shrinks into the posture of an apology, and they are inseparable again like a motorcycle and its sidecar.