In Metal, In Bone
by An Owomoyela
Colonel Gabriel met him in a circle of canvas-topped trucks, in an army jacket despite the heat of the sun. he stood a head taller than Benine, with skin as dark as peat coal, with terrible scarring on one side of his jaw. When his gloved hand shook Benine’s bare one, he closed his grip and said, “What do you see?”
Benine was startled, but the call to listen in on the memories of things was ever-present in the back of his mind. It took very little to let his senses fuzz, obscured by the vision curling up from the gloves like smoke.
He saw a room in a cottage with a thatched roof, the breeze coming in with the smell of a cooking fire outside, roasted cassava, a woman singing, off-tune. He had to smile. There was too much joy in the song to mind the sharp notes. This must have been before the war; it was hard to imagine that much joy in Mortova these days.
The singing had that rich, resonant pitch of a voice heard in the owner’s head, and his vision swung down, to delicate hands with a needle and thread, stitching together the fabric of the gloves. Neat, even rows, and as the glove passed between the seamstress’s fingers, he could see the patterns of embroidery on the back.
Benine banished the vision and pulled his hand back. “But these are women’s gloves!”
Colonel Gabriel gave him an appraising look. “So you can do something,” he said. “Not just superstition and witchcraft.”