Reading Time: 1 minute
"Nine Lives" originally appeared in Issue 23 of Tahoma Literary Review. I was inspired by the tribute that Schummer so lovingly and candidly pays to the women at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. A flash in bold strokes to honor bold women who deserve to be seen. Read it here and in our most current print issue, #TLR23. Or listen to Schummer read it: https://bit.ly/DSchu9Lvs
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The women at the community college all wear eyeliner, dark and thick. They are wives, sisters, cousins, girlfriends, baby mamas, aunties. They learned to apply the eyeliner by watching YouTube tutorials, by following directions on the internet. They have all had or lost babies; they have all had someone they love die. Their eyeliner looks professional: it never runs. The women at the community college spend hours in the tutoring center. They dream the future. Their eyeliner is from drug stores, cheap brands that cost a few dollars and come in a kaleidoscope of colors. They always choose black. They bring small children to my lectures; their children draw on the whiteboard while I teach the women how to argue, formally. The women at the community college worry about their teenage sons, about what happens when boys are mistaken for men. Their eyeliner is always liquid; the pencils break too easily, are too hard to sharpen and shape. They stay after class to ask for extensions, to explain why they’ve been gone and how they’ll catch up. They blink once, twice, showing the cleanness of the lines they’ve drawn. The women at the community college say, “Me too.” They fight for their stolen sisters. Their eyeliner sails across their lids, forms perfect points at the corners of their blue, brown, green, hazel eyes. When they laugh, it’s loud, long. When they laugh, the walls tremble.
Schummer had this to say about her piece:
“Nine Lives” is a love letter to the women I teach at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College and have taught at other institutions—brilliant women who are tough, self-actualized. Their eyeliner, at once mask and accessory, tells you everything you need to know.
Darci Schummer is the author of Six Months in the Midwest (Unsolicited Press) and the forthcoming novel The Ballad of Two Sisters (Unsolicited Press).
Website: darci.schummer.com; Facebook: darcischummer; Instagram and Twitter: @darcischummer