Yinka Reed-Nolan

Kittredge Street, 2004 I tell the FBI that you aren’t crazy because I like listening to David Bowie on the floor of your empty apartment, and I don’t want my mother to know since she wouldn’t understand why I hang out with a schizophrenic alcoholic old enough to be my father; or why I need you to educate me about drag queens like Devine, when, as she puts it, I am going through a faze; I’ll straighten up and change my mind. I tell the FBI that it is a misunderstanding when the tired buzz of a phone call startles me into a doorway on the corner of Kittredge Street after you phone-in a not so anonymous tip about a 17-year-old named Gabe who threatened to kill George W. Bush. But this is Berkeley, and everyone has threatened to kill the president at least once, so I know it isn’t special, and you don’t care whether he wants to kill the president or not, you just hold a grudge for the queer boy with a mushroom shaped head because he hurls insults at you like the fireballs of arson sealed in his juvenile record. You want a restraining order, but the courts say you can’t have one until you serve him papers, but you can’t get his address because he is only 17 and a child, so you twist his words into treason and make me an accomplice. I tell the FBI that you are harmless because I don’t want you to get in trouble. From the tone of the man on the other line, I can tell this isn’t the first phone call you’ve made, and the way he says your name with disdain on his tongue, before he tells me to be careful, lets me know that he thinks you’re crazy. Strawberry Milkshake When I dream about Jackie, she’s naked in my bed. It feels wrong, but not wrong as in dirty, or inappropriate, like the time I dreamt my hand between Lexi’s pale legs. She was in my 44 class and although she was attractive from in front of the white board – short with an air of spunky sass and tiny tits that poked through her tank top in January – I had my boundaries, so when Lexi and her freckled body showed up in a sheer summer dress, her upturned nose and sly mouth grinning, I knew it was wrong to wake up wet between my legs. Dreaming about Jackie is wrong like drinking a strawberry milkshake when something about the sweetness burns like betrayal. But if a strawberry shake is betrayal then a Shamrock shake is the corner of Cedar and Shaw in March when the sun burns holes in my shoulder blades and the sweat rolls down the side of my face, drips on my chest, pools in a spot between my breasts, and I wish I was brazen enough to wear a tank top. In my dream I tell Jackie that I miss Clovis, Tulare, Fresno; and I finally understand why she loves the one month of the year when she can get the green, frothy swirl of artificial mint in a milkshake. Since I left Fresno, I realize that March is cold, and I sweat underneath layers of clothes, wishing it was warm enough to wear a t-shirt without a coat. Yinka Rose Reed-Nolan is currently a PhD student at Binghamton University. She earned a MFA in creative writing from California State University Fresno where she worked as an Editorial Assistant for The Normal School: A Literary Magazine and The Philip Levine Prize in Poetry. Her work has appeared in The Hoot and Hare Review, The Dying Goose, Niche, and Bloom. When she’s not writing she enjoys baseball, road trips and team trivia.