by Dana Crum
This excerpt from my novel At the Cross was published in Bronx Biannual: The Journal of Urbane Urban Literature (issue no. 1) in 2006.
The darkness swelled with heat, and many graduates began to step out of their gowns. But Sidney kept his on.
"How's ya moms?" Jamal asked.
"She's doing better. She'll be home soon."
"I know she feel bad about missing this."
"Yeah." Before graduation Sidney had gone to the hospital to see her. He strode through the halls and through the strong smell of Lysol, and once inside her room he sat in the orange plastic chair beside her bed. They talked for a while. Then she asked him to read his speech. As he read in the weak glow of the single working light, she lay with the bleached sheets drawn up over her short rotund body. Her eyes glistened wet. "I sure wish I could be there," she said when he was done. She smiled and touched his hand. "It's beautiful."
His gown fluttering in the useless breeze, he realized there would have been a scene if she had been able to make it: she would have refused to ride in the same car with D'Angelo and Jamal.