Asia cannot get the thought out of her mind. No matter how hard she tries, the image will just not go away. She even tries concentrating on thinking about something else, anything else, but the harder she tries, the more ominous the thought becomes. It seeps through her head, snakes its way down her neck, her spine, her whole body until it reaches her feet giving her the chills. It actually tingles and she shudders which creates goose bumps on her arms. It pushes itself out of her body and floats around like an annoying mist of rain that goes on all day. It’s like a cast over grey day when all it does is mists. A cloudy, dreary day where you want it to just rain hard and get it over with, but it just continues to mist for endless hours, nagging, never really raining, just misting. That’s how Asia is feeling about this thought in her head. Chasity’s words are what Asia is now thinking about. The words that Chasity had said to her when they were only six years old and in the first grade. Asia is now a grown woman in her late thirties, and has not seen Chasity in over sixteen years. And then she had only spoken to her a brief moment when she bumped into her that long time ago in front of Chasity’s mother’s projects. Asia and Chasity hadn’t seen one another since elementary school, but they both knew who the other was the moment they laid eyes on each other. Asia had just happened to be walking on the outskirts of the projects when her long lost friend walked out of a building. Their eyes met for just an instance, but that’s all it took. They immediately knew who the other was. “Asia is that you?” Asked Chasity with a surprising but delightful look on her face. “Chasity? Oh my God, I haven’t seen you in so long!” Instinctively putting her hand to her mouth because she remembers that she should not have used the Lord’s name in vain in front of Chasity who has always been religious. “How are you doing girl?” Asked Asia. “I’m fine Asia, and yourself? You look good girl!” “So do you!” Said Asia. Chasity is still large. She was chubby as a little girl and now at twenty she is a large woman. Chasity is of medium height for a woman standing around five feet four inches. Asia knows how old she is because they are the same age.
Chasity is over two hundred pounds and at least a size twenty- two. She is dressed lightly because it is the middle of the summer. She’s wearing a simple cotton, beige and brown summer dress that flows to her ankles. The sleeves reach her elbows and the neckline is circular around her neck. Chasity still has that religious look about her. And she seems to have not changed except that she grew in size. Chasity is light- skinned. It’s almost like adding white paint to caramel colored paint. That’s how Chasity’s color complexion can be described with smooth and creamy skin. She still has that alluring and bright smile that could draw anyone into her world. Her brown hair is permed and slicked all the way back into a bun. It’s short so she used hair gel to keep it slicked down. Asia could tell because she could see some of the white caked up gel flakes stuck to the temples and sides of her head. Chasity’s smiling and so is Asia. The two, young women size each other up. Not a jealous sizing up but a how you look now look. At twenty, Asia is a slim woman even though she too was a chubby girl when she was little and she and Chasity were friends in elementary school. She is a little darker than Chasity, having a deep chocolate color. Asia has always been the taller one, and now she stands five feet seven and a half inches tall. In stark contrast to Chasity, Asia is wearing the newest style blue jeans, called Jordache, and they are just as tightly fitting as they could be. The jeans hug her curves like a glove and her white shirt is crisply starched and stiffly ironed to a tee. The sleeves are neatly folded at the elbows and the first three buttons of her blouse are unbuttoned showing a little cleavage. It also exposes three gold chains around her neck. Each ear holds two gold earrings which emphasizes the two holes in each lobe. Gold rings adorn three fingers on each hand but there’s no wedding band yet. And a multitude of bracelets are on both wrists. Asia is an island girl born in the Caribbean, but raised in the Bronx, New York. After greeting, and the hugging and kissing was over, both women stand back and started talking at once. “Girl you look good!” Chasity says again to Asia constantly smiling. Asia smiles thank you back. The two women can’t stop smiling at each other, maybe even grinning because they are really glad to see one another. It has been so long since they had spoken. They were the best of friends when they were little girls and had attended community school 201. They were in the same classes and Asia even traveled across the highway from her apartment building to visit with and see Chasity who lived in the projects on several occasions. Chasity wasn’t able to go outside her apartment to visit friends, so Asia always went to her. All this came flooding back to Asia as she stands there grinning at Chasity. Asia finally says, “I’m going to college now, BMCC, and you?”
“Well, girl you know I’m still in the church and I’m getting married!” “Oh Chasity, that’s wonderful! I’m so happy for you!” And Asia is genuinely happy for her long ago best friend. Still smiling, the women hug each other with Chasity glancing at a car parked at the curb. “Asia, I have to go because my family is waiting for me in that car.” Chasity pointed towards the curb. “It’s so good seeing you! God made it this way. You take good care of yourself!” All of this is said as they continue hugging and kissing. Suddenly the Mark of the Beast story pops into Asia’s head. No, that’s a lie! The Mark of the Beast story popped into Asia’s head the moment she saw Chasity. How could it not. This story scared the shit out of Asia since the first time Chasity told it to her when they were only in grade school. Asia could not comprehend now or back then how mature Chasity seemed when she told the story. She had told it like she was a sophisticated, worldly woman who was extremely knowledgeable in the subject, yet she was only six years old and in the first grade. This story stayed with Asia, it is in the back of her head, and subconscious mind. It’s like a hovering shadow that has been following her around her whole life. It’s been there since the day Chasity told it to her in Ms. Sinch’s class. It never left her thoughts. Oh she didn’t think of it every waking hour of the day, but it’s there and it will always be there. It will never leave! Never! And Asia didn’t know this now. Or did she?