Natalee Grant, Contributor
Lilith placed them side by side on the marble surface like the scrapbook of her life; her 50-year-old wedding cake toppers of a miniature bride and groom, the pictures of her children, and finally, the pictures of the young, bashful bride and smiling groom who had flown down from New York for a good old Jamaican wedding.The marzipan bride and groom that had once rested atop her three-tier cake had deteriorated over the years; the white dress of the little bride had succumbed to the butter and had become a yellow monstrosity, but her wedding cake tasted just as good as the day she and Edwin had playfully cut it together in her mother's country home.
She ate a piece of the buttery concoction her aunt Sylvia had made, remembering how her aunt had complained about short notice and the unlikelihood of a short-notice wedding leading to a long marriage. She licked the icing from the bride's face and fondled the figurine of the groom. It had been their tradition every year on the their anniversary to have a slice of the wedding cake they had cut so long ago to the cheers and well wishes of family and friends. She gently re-wrapped the tiny remaining piece of cake and returned it to its icy domicile in the freezer. She folded her arms about herself and buried her face in the oversized sleeves of Edwin's sweater, his scent was still on all his clothes, she looked at the pieces of her life that she had laid out before her. The lock of her daughter's curly hair, her son's tooth, her husband's wedding band; all the little mementos that were sentimental to her.
The notes of of Ella Fitzgerald's Paper Moon rang out from the CD player her grandson had got her for Christmas, something about ushering her into the new millenium. He was so much like her Edwin. The jazzy, bluesy notes of Ella took her back to the Harlem speak-easy where she had first met him. He had watched her every move, captivated by the twist of her hips, she was Harlem's own Mata Hari; a name she had resented because she thought of herself as an original ... an island girl bringing her Caribbean beat to the Big Apple. She had ended the dance straddling his lap, her head thrown back in laughter.
"Are you a Jamaican girl?"
He had asked, stunning her, his down home accent swiftly bringing her back to earth. Her mouth was suddenly dry, and she couldn't find a response, their eyes locked. He smiled.
"Is all right, I would know a brown skin St Elizabeth girl anywhere."
She swallowed and eased herself off his lap, unable to break eye contact, bowing gracefully as the audience in the crowded smoky room held their applause.
He was waiting for her that night. She stopped short when she saw him, her hand in her purse, the sounds of Harlem after dark were the only sounds between them. He stood there watching her; the smile of the wolf that has cornered his prey plastered on his face. Her heart somersaulted and slowly, ever so slowly, she smiled back. That was the beginning of Edwin and Lilith; the brown-skinned St Elizabeth girl/elementary school drop-out/burlesque dancer and Deacon Morris' mason son from Clarendon, two island immigrants in the Big Apple. The gurgling water broke her reverie and she eased herself into the tub, Edwin's smiling face greeted her when she closed her eyes and they were together again just like they were in anniversaries past. The radio played on until the undulations of Ella's voice were swallowed by her memories.