Atlanta, Blue Hurt, Blue Lines, Blue Lines Blog, California, Chapel Hill, college, FKA Twigs, Georgia, Key Yemaya Walker, Keypsiia, Keypsiia Walker, Keypsiia Yemaya Walker, music, Sacramento, Tahliah Debrett Barnett, Two Weeks, UNC, UNC Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
I started this blog to support the process of completing and publishing my manuscript, Blue Lines, yet when I started this labor of love in 1998, I felt that certain events would retard the process. Time and life, and eventually those events did retard the process. This is one of my favorite chapters, though not my favorite scene. To set up the scene, my fictional protagonist, Keypsiia is sitting in Coker Aboretum, after hanging out with her best friend Azul the night prior because she was annoyed with her interest, antagonist Blue.
As I share today, I do it being that the manuscript takes place on the campus of the current NCAA Champions, The University of North Carolina, and also because I found it funny how many of thing themes authored in this chapter were echoed in the lyrics of FKA twigs’ song, “Two Weeks.”
“Hello love,” Blue interrupted Keypsiia’s solace.
She smiled as she looked up from the uneven wooden bench. The sun’s glow bathed her through the twisted tree barks and haphazard vines that formed the awning that opened to the walkway bordering the south end of the Coker Arboretum and her smile radiated her face as a few leaves floated in their descent to the hidden dirt sidewalk.
Keypsiia’s hair was pulled back into a curly auburn puff at the back of her head as she sat with her legs folded under her form. She was tired and the sinuses behind her nose throbbed from drinking the previous night hanging out with Azul. But, while briefly gazing up to Blue, a large silly grin overtook her face. She reflected back to their brief argument the day prior and how she had wanted to call Blue last night, but that she didn’t have his number. Her heart jumped just seeing him before her. His navy First Down Bubble jacket hung haphazardly ruffled under the straps of his navy backpack and she focused on a brown and white feather that pointed out from it. His hat covered his cornrowed braids and his baggy light blue Ruff Wear jeans careened down his legs, to rest upon his opened boots. Yes, she reflected, this was the man who brought her such joy in just being there.
“Hi Blue, I can’t keep from smiling,” she giggled to herself as she peered back down to her notebook blushing. She knew that he was someone that she wanted in her life, to share her simple joys with him. He was hers to pine for, “now that you are here.” They shared a smile of the coincidence of their meeting.
“Why do you love me Keypsiia,” he frowned.
“For the same reasons that you love me Blue. I just wish that I wasn’t afraid of something that feels so right,” she answered with more courage than she had had the previous day. “I wish that I did not feel pushed into a corner sometimes.”
“Why are you afraid to jump? Why are you afraid of letting go of him, if it’s me that you want? What brings you so much fear, love?”
“Because…” she thought and before she would allow those words to escape from her lips she countered, “I’m scared Blue, so scared, not only of taking the chance, but of messing it up. Blue, I honestly believe that if I make this jump…it will be my last. Before, at home in Sac, a boyfriend was something I wanted. I loved them, but I didn’t, if you understand what I mean,” he nodded perceptively as their conversation seemed to pick up from their previous afternoon together. “I knew that that was the guy that I would be with there, but I also knew that we would go our separate ways,” she paused and thought of how her words may have come across. Trusting her instincts she continued, “I knew that we would not get married.
“My parents weren’t exactly the greatest model. And then you came along. Although I have a boyfriend, he is more of a fit with what I said before about knowing that there is no future with us. He fills that void…”
“And, I fill that necessity,” he asked with what she perceived as partially confident. “That want, and that longing and that need that you feel,” he paused looking aimlessly to through the natural awning to the sky momentarily. He then returned his glances to her and continued, “how do you know this…that I can answer what you need?”
“That’s it, I don’t know if you do,” Blue frowned slightly in response to her words, “I just know that I,” Keypsiia gathered her courage to continue, “my feelings are strong for you Blue,” she released in a sigh.
Blue closed his eyes, and she understood that he knew the truth in her simple words. Exhaling, he looked toward the idyllic hues of the orange and red leaves that still hung on to the last life of the fleeting summer. He knew that on the eve of their passing, a virgin love was being born between to souls who were occupying the right space at the perfect time. With Keypsiia’s girlish grin still wide, she closed her eyes and looked skyward to accept the warmth of the sun that seemed to caress her. She smiled at the emancipation of her words, and with thoughts of the frightening, unknown love that separated them from the world now.
“Blue,” she repeated his name and smiled spoonily.
“Yes love,” he nodded.
“Do you understand that my heart jumps every time that I see you? Whether I’m in my room thinking about you, or I just see you. My stomach is in knots, but somehow I’m able to conceal it, and I think to myself maybe this is the day, but I never know.”
“Hopefully there will be more to us than simple friendship and unfulfilled feelings,” he stated smiling as he sat beside her and looked onto her notes to help her study, but in her state she replaced the books in her bag.
“Alright,” Blue said in unstated acknowledgement. “You got a Black,” he asked as he pulled out his lighter.
“Yes,” she smiled as she rummaged through her bag to find the cigar. He lit it as they rose from the bench and began to walk around to the entrance of the Arboretum.
“Here,” he smiled offering her his bottled coffee Frappuccino. “You can have it.” She smiled as she accepted the drink.
They covered various subjects and current events, nothing with any real bearing on the state of their relations. Keypsiia and Blue passed the Black & Mild cigar between one another as they walked and spoke.
“Keypsiia, what do you want from me,” he turned and asked while kicking dirt from his boots.
Keypsiia was visibly annoyed by his question. He had an obscure habit of asking her questions of this nature and she detested it. She proceeded to walk as if the query had not been made. She focused on the sand particles that she had managed to kick up on her shell toe sneakers.
“Hey, Key I asked you a question.”
She offered her reply in silence. Blue gently stopped her progression and faced her. She would not look into his eyes. Her suddenly sullen face displayed the displeasure that his inquiries caused her. She could slowly feel that a pattern was developing in their relationship and that it would be rocky filled with extreme highs and the lowest of lows. She wanted to believe that she was over thinking, but she had a strong feeling that they were about to fall back into arguing similar to the previous day.
“Please don’t do this,” she whispered softly with her eyes still to the ground. “Today is good, very good. Please,” she looked up at him. “You know that I don’t like it when you do this. Please Blue,” she pleaded with plaintive stares.
He withdrew without argument while rubbing her arms to calm her. She smiled at his submission, knowing the rarity of such an occasion, and her face instantly reddened with joy. Keypsiia looked into Blue’s eyes as he slowly allowed his hand to engulf hers and they silently shared their subtle affection.
“Damn, I really love you,” she thought quietly with internal thoughts that she should be wary of telling him repeatedly the true feelings of her heart.
Together, Keypsiia and Blue continued through the arboretum passed Morehead Planetarium into McCorkle Place. Keypsiia kept her eyes low, concealing her grins.
“Come here,” Blue requested as he tossed the remainder of the Black and Mild to the ground and pulled her into a hug. “I apologize for making you uncomfortable earlier.” He kissed her cheek, and Keypsiia, feeling safe, held him closely.
“Why this dilemma,” she whispered to herself as she grasped him closely and buried her face into his chest. Silently they stood there. She knew that he was about to release her from the hug after his kiss, but now was her time. She sought what she needed and wanted at that moment. After a few minutes that seemed to span ages to Keypsiia, he slowly brought his arms back around her and leaned his face in over her head.
“It’s ok,” he whispered in a tone that made Keypsiia believe that everything would work out for them in the end. In an understanding tone that protected her, but then again she smiled, his voice always brought her comfort. “You gonna finish your Frappuccino,” Blue smiled as he allowed her freedom from his embrace. She smiled back and as she pulled her head back reluctantly released him, she pulled the bottle from her pocket, and shook it making the beverage very frothy. The two headed toward Franklin Street.
“Blue,” Keypsiia began, “since you like questions, I have one for you. What would you do if one day I was gone? You know, like you still knew me, but I wasn’t here anymore? As if I had just up and left. How would you feel?”
Blue paused his progress and rubbed his fingers repeatedly across his head meeting at the bridge of his nose. He silently shook his head and quietly refrained from any immediate response. Keypsiia observed between the small sips she took from her Frappuccino bottle to make it last longer. Eerily he seemed to run through his elucidation of his thoughts.
“I would miss you Keypsiia,” he abruptly answered. “I would miss you dearly and feel that I made some mistake. That I did not make the right move, no decisions, to become a part of your life,” he exhaled labored and shook his head, as if he had actually gone through the pain of losing her. “I cannot describe in words how I would miss you.”
His response was perplexing to her. She had been very uncomfortable with his prior questioning, but now felt guilty when she was the initiator. “I’m sorry Blue,” she offered feeling that her words fell on deaf ears.
“It’s ok Keypsiia. It’s just something I had not considered before. I hadn’t figured that I could squander this opportunity,” he shrugged his shoulders while looking up to the clouds in the sky, as if he still had to personally resolve his thoughts regarding her questions. Turning onto the sidewalk of Franklin Street, Blue returned his gaze to Keypsiia. “I guess that I would miss you Keypsiia,” he shrugged again as if still confused. “I would have,” he corrected and paused to collect his thoughts then continued. “We would have missed a great opportunity, for us. We would have missed what could possibly be a tremendously strong love,” he frankly expressed.
Keypsiia stood listening wide eyed as she curled her lips trying to interpret his words with her hands buried in her pockets. Her hair whipped in a trice and she tried to bring her eyes to look into his, but her abrupt shyness prevented her. As they ambled passed Franklin Centre a chill ran through her as she tried to peak up to the record store. Ironically, Keypsiia realized that her question had placed Blue in the same uncomfortable disposition that he had with her at times in the past. “Would you really miss me,” she scrunched her nose smiling and discerned that she could engage him in similar prodding.
“Yes,” he broke from his solace and returned her smile. “Would you?”
“No, I wouldn’t miss me. I’ll always be with me,” she laughed as she noticed Starbucks toward her right across Franklin.
“You want Starbucks, don’t you,” Blue countered oblivious to Keypsiia’s wandering eyes.
“How did you know,” she asked turning toward Blue and noticing a sweatshirt in the window of the Gap across from him.
“A little birdie told me, and I know you love. I know you well,” he smiled smugly, not looking toward her as she looked towards him.
“When was the last time you had a girlfriend Blue,” Keypsiia prodded further.
“Why do you ask? Is it really that important,” he responded. “Our current, um thing,” he stated with a question, “revolves around your boyfriend.”
“Come on Blue,” Keypsiia pleaded as they crossed along South Columbia Street.
“Last year, well last school year earlier this year, I was talking to someone. It didn’t really work out.”
“We were incompatible. That was pretty much it. Not to sound too conceited, but she was interested in me,” he shrugged as he habitually opened the door to Starbucks for Keypsiia.
“I know that’s not it,” Keypsiia cut her eyes at him as she asked incredulously.
“Love, just order your drink,” he playfully ordered.
“I’m not done with you,” she smiled while turning to order. “Are you getting anything,” she peered back.
“No, just your drink,” he smiled pushing a couple of dollars forward to the counter and he disappeared to find a seat.
Keypsiia retrieved her order and looked for Blue in the unusually crowded Starbucks. She peeked toward the door and noticed that sun had vanished as waves of windy rain whipped the front windows of the coffee shop. She continued to nonchalantly steal glances to locate Blue, as she headed for the condiment counter for some sweetener for her beverage. Sentiments of abandonment slowly began to creep into her mind and her eyes were sullen until she found him buried in a notebook that he had pulled from his bag and her disposition brightened. “Hey,” she beamed and took a long satisfying sip of her beverage. “Don’t think that I forgot,” she ribbed him as she took the seat opposite him. “What happened with your girlfriend ‘Mr. She Was Interested in Me’?”
“It’s not like that,” he briefly blushed. “I fought it for awhile, you know. Her liking me, but Renee said why not try.”
“Figures,” she responded.
“Stop love. So I tried, and it I should have used my better judgment and gone with my initial intuition to put it plainly.”
“Was she ugly or something,” Keypsiia paused trying to determined whether Blue was superficial in his past relationships, although by many definitions her past boyfriends and Gerald now were superficial relationships. “So, am I to assume that you can only date women you think are beautiful,” she further queried, projecting her displeasure with her relationship choices onto him.
“Slow down Keypsiia. Looking at her, she was cute and all,” he paused thinking, “maybe even beautiful, but she was ugly on the inside. She was very fake, and although she liked me, that made us incompatible. I mean, you’ve been around me. I can’t do the fake thing. Now get this, Renee tried to hook me up, but even Brielle didn’t like her.”
“Figures,” Keypsiia laughed.
“Stop,” Blue laughed.
“Does she still go to school here?”
“No,” he simply stated. “She just took classes here one year. She was at another school fulltime and came to study at another school her junior year.”
“That doesn’t sound like a bad person, she sounds focused.”
“I guess,” Blue raised his eyebrows as he countered and plucked Keypsiia’s cup from her hands to taste what she was drinking. “Love, I never said that she wasn’t driven or focused,” he began as he looked down at the spout of the cup lid, “I just don’t think she’s a good person. But,” he caught himself, “what I’m saying makes no sense to you because you did not know her. Secondly, I don’t like discussing people when they cannot defend themselves, and I have nothing good to say about her.”
“Could it be that you didn’t give her a chance?”
“Keypsiia Yemaya Walker,” he exhaled, “please stop, it is not that important. I bet you thought that I didn’t remember your entire name,” he smiled. “But on this overly long discourse, you are not her.”
“So from what you’ve said I can gather that I’m beautiful, or maybe even cute, and I’m different,” she asked quickly bringing the cup back to her face to hide her blush and prolong her ability to answer any quick question.
“Boy, you are inquisitive today. Did we somehow switch up today? Yes Keypsiia, you are beautiful, not cute, you are very beautiful. Yes Keypsiia, you are different…strange,” he laughed as she tapped his leg with her foot. “Plus, I am interested in you and you the same with me.” Keypsiia felt warmed by him stating the obvious, and blushed. She sipped her coffee again to hide her silly smile.
“How do you know that I’m different?”
“You have several layers. You allow yourself to be a real person, except for when you were at Bennigan’s that time. But, I understand that fully. Like the time when we initially ran into each other, that first time, it just happened.” Keypsiia smiled remembering that night. “It wasn’t planned,” he continued, “and you didn’t try to put yourself in that position. You know what you want here. I mean, you know that your current situation isn’t what you want. And I won’t lie, but most people would not hang out close to campus with some dude when it can get back to their boyfriend.” Keypsiia smiled and continued to sip. Blue shared her smile. “Are you still here with me?”
“Yes,” Keypsiia blushed echoing her earlier sentiments. “So,” she thought about how her next question would expose her to possible questioning of her character, “how am I different from this girl, if I’m in a relationship, but something is going on with us?”
“I don’t know Keypsiia, how are you? You haven’t cheated on him. You are in essence being true to him, while he doesn’t come around or pay attention to you the way that he should. Or at least, the way I would.”
“I kissed you,” she began.
“Kissed,” he laughed as if her statement was erroneously singular and had only happened once. “Still, you have not allowed yourself to be compromised beyond that. And, how can I explain it? Although you do not like your current relationship, albeit comfortable to know that you have a boyfriend, I can tell that you are conflicted about your actions because you still have that sense of responsibility to him. I admire that you have a conscience. And like I told you, I want to try this, but I can’t do that until you are free, not that I will just be around waiting.”
“I know,” was the simplest answer that she could offer as her mind raced with thoughts and questions regarding his answers. “I guess you think that I’m different because I have a conscience.”
“I would guess that is a simple way to put it. Again,” he paused, “again, why all the questions today beautiful Californian,” he asked visibly admiring her facial features.
“What,” Keypsiia asked noticing his gazes. She smiled and blushed and grabbed her cup again to sip and hide her face. Quietly she wished to stay here forever with him. “Okay Blue,” she probed again, “if I was your girlfriend, how would you in retrospect feel about my spending the type of time with another guy? Like I am with you,” she added to clarify her question.
“How can I explain this,” he replied, almost asking himself. “Normally I would ask something like is it quality or quantity of the time that we are spending together, but,” he stressed, “if I had the knowledge…” he paused to collect himself, and answer the question for her. “If I am who I am, and love the way that I love, and you had fallen in love with someone else, and spent hours of time together with this guy, and it meant more than the time you spent with your me, your boyfriend, then yes I would not like it. I would be extremely hurt.”
“Yes, I can understand that, but let’s say,” she added, “that you were not a good boyfriend, you cheated, or were never around.”
“Like in your case,” he interrupted.
“Yes, like in my case,” she confirmed. “Don’t the circumstances somehow now give, um, validity to the change in feelings?”
“Yes, but two wrongs do not make it right, when you can leave your boyfriend. But, and I cannot really speak for anyone else love, if I did not love you or offer you that time, and left a void open…and had sex with whoever else I wanted, that would be totally different. I guess I would still be hurt, as the man, but if I was rational enough, I could see where that rift started to form.”
“But am I wrong,” she tested, knowing she knew the answer in black & white.
“Yes,” he stated simply with hesitation.
“Thank you,” she smiled. The truth that she already knew stung her to hear from him, but as he lifted his hands to cover hers, still clutching her cup she sighed. It would have hurt more, if he had skated from answering her question just to appease her.
“Are you okay love,” he smiled.
“Yes,” she nodded. “Thank you for not being a liar.”
“Thank you for accepting an answer that you already knew. It makes no sense for me to rehash things between us, therefore I won’t, but take heart that if we can get to the point that we do this, it will be done right I guess.”
Keypsiia shrugged her shoulders and then smiled to him. Her brief melancholy dissipated and her joy returned. She peered back at him almost blushing. He returned her smile.
“Man, that rain is not letting up,” he took notice. “Are you good on your coffee, because I’m going to grab something now?”
“Sure, I’ll take something” she smiled shaking her empty cup.
“Grande, whatever the bold is,” he smiled knowing her normal order. Blushing, she nodded in approval. She watched him take the few steps toward the counter and pulled her notepad out and mindlessly started shading the corners of a page of notes from her morning class.
Returning Blue sat the refilled cup before her. “What are you doing?”
“Nothing,” she answered and looked up to him.
“Well your turn now,” he smiled. “How do you feel about yourself and the conundrum of us?”
“Damn,” she mentally reacted. “I knew this would happen,” she huffed. “Well, I sometimes have questions about being torn between what I feel I’m supposed to do, and what I feel I should do. I talk to my mom about it every night, it can be hella stressing.”
“What does she say about it?”
“What she says,” Keypsiia raised her voice playfully. “Just like I could tell that you were holding back a little bit earlier, I can’t tell you that.”
“Why, I’m interested.”
“I bet you are. You just want to know who she chose. All you need to worry about is who I choose,” Keypsiia responded animated.
“So you got it like that. Well since you’re here with me, but you’re still with him…I guess you chose him.”
“Whatever,” Keypsiia countered as she threw an unused sugar packet at Blue. “We really need to get back, but we’re gonna get hella soaked.”
“That’s why we’re still here.”
“Ok, since we’re here, and we have our books, can you help me study?”
“Sure,” he agreed as she lifted her text from her bag. “But, that doesn’t answer the question, how do you feel about this?”
“Well,” she squirmed. “Let’s say, for sake of argument, I know what I need and want to do, but I don’t know how to do it? Based on what we’ve spoken about, it’s not like I can really discuss it or explain it to you, because you cannot give me advice,” she paused smiling. “Also, if I do know a little bit about you, you would not give me any advice anyway. Therefore, in conclusion,” she held back laughter at the tone of her answer, “I cannot tell you what I think about the conundrum of us.”
He frowned at her, and Keypsiia could no longer hold back her laughter and laughed heartily almost spitting out her coffee.
“What did I even ask? I cannot win today,” he snickered. “We have really switched roles today, love,” he stated with what almost came across as a measured level of disappointment to Keypsiia.
“Oh Blue, don’t sound that way. I am a currently taken but not in love woman, in love with another man. And I don’t know how to get from point A to point B in this whole thing. It’s really tiring and depressing at times because I do question myself and whether I’m a good person. I know that I am probably saying too much.”
“Then why are you continuing, love?”
“Because it’s you,” she explained. “You always make me feel at ease enough to say everything I probably shouldn’t be telling you.”
“OK, then what did you mother say love?”
“Ha, you’re not getting that answer buddy.”
“forgive me for saying this, because this is not normal for me…” he paused. “But do not be too down on yourself. Yes we have kissed, and yes we are probably together like a typical couple, you probably get mad at me more often, and burden yourself with me more often that you do with your boyfriend, but at least find solace in your restraint. You have played a role in not over extending yourself also.
“Sure,” Keypsiia rested her head sideways in her hands and stared at the wildly blowing rain through the front window of the store. But, I’m disappointed that I can want something, but I can’t take the steps forward for it. If I can’t do it now, how do I address that in other parts of my life? Want to go to grad school, but I don’t fill out the application? How about I want to have a child, but I don’t have sex?”
“Well you can adopt,” Blue laughed.
“Ouch,” he let out as she kicked his knee with a little bit more than a playful love tap. “Keypsiia!”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Keypsiia apologized, regretting that she had used more force than intended. “I’m really sorry, but you’re not funny.”
The manuscript Blue Lines is the fictional coming of age narrative of a young California woman Key Yemaya Walker, and her 2 year growing journey through school, love, and life period piece, written by Kenneth Suffern, Jr., taking place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between the years of 1997 – 1998. Loosely based on true events, and experiences during that time, told through the eyes and voice of the main female protagonist, a freshman first attending the school.