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OTHER PEOPLE'S SKIN

by

Tracy Price-Thompson

I entered this world on the wave of a violent midsummer heat, north of Venice, south of the French Quarter, on the wide mouth of an oxbow lake. My first drops of sweet milk were suckled in a spacious wood house crawling with Spanish moss and shaded by loblolly pines. According to Ma'Dear, mine was the year of the great drought, and instead of the river belching forth schools of laughing gull and black skimmer fish, folks in our tiny back-swamp on the Mississippi Delta were up to their chins in scorched caking mud, which, whispered by some, was the exact same shade of my newborn hide.

Shortly after my birth, Peaches fainted. The sight of me was far too much for her to bear. She came from good stock, she cried, panting through the pains of my afterbirth and holding her milky arms out as evidence of her purity. A LeMoyne, she insisted. A direct descendant of the distinguished Jean Baptiste. And until I came along to highlight the stain on her pedigree, her silken brown tresses and fine chalky skin had been more than enough to prove it.