Blurring the Line

n this fictional tale, sexual confusion and societal pressure bring shades of gray to black identity.



By Linda Villarosa

Copyright © 2008. Dafina Books, Kensington Publishing Corp.

In this excerpt from Passing for Black, a new novel by our columnist Linda Villarosa, magazine editor Angela Wright has broken up with her fiancé, Keith. With no place to live, Angela is staying with her best friend, Mae. Mae wonders what caused the sudden break-up. She has no idea that Angela has fallen in love with a woman.

I walked into the well-lit lobby of Mae's building at 28th and Madison after working late at Désire. I had been shuttling between her place and my parents' for over a week.

Mae's apartment was located in a weird, commercial part of Manhattan, but she loved it. I think she loved that she lived in a high-rise building, and was always trying to work the phrase "my doorman" into conversation. Mae was standing in the doorway wearing a pink shortie nightgown and matching pink silk head scarf. She had put on dusty-rose lipstick even.

"Honey you're home!" Mae said, as she helped me pull off my coat. We sat together on her bed, which was in the living room of her studio. It was really "our" bed now. I had slept badly every night I'd been there, teetering on my edge. Last night was the worst: I had awakened at 3 a.m. with Mae's pudgy hand on the side of my head, a clunky ring wedged in my ear. Her apartment didn't have to be configured the way it was, but she'd chosen a yawning walk-in closet over a bedroom.

"You don't look so great, Ang." As soon as Mae said it, I started to cry. She looked at me worriedly, awkwardly stroking my shoulder. She handed me a tissue out of a candy-striped box on her nightstand.

"Mae, I know I look like shit. My life is ruined," I huffed through sobs. "What have I done?"