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Celia Jeffries

I stood in front of the mirror I had placed on the desk I was using as a dresser. Although it was a full-length mirror, I had set it up horizontally to give the room more light and some imaginary space. Before me was a reflection of my midriff, covered in the gauzy top Mma Kgope had given me from her state-sponsored shopping trip to China. Here, she called, pointing into the open trunk of her Mercedes. Choose one. I knew she was making recompense for the dress her dog had pulled off the clothesline and chewed to bits, even though she never apologized or mentioned it after I showed her the scraps of fabric. Behind me in the mirror I could see the full-length map of Africa I had taped to the wall. I looked at the outline of the continent, reversed in the mirror, and thought back to the energy healer who had shaken his head when I told him I was planning to teach in Bogota since I hadn’t gotten a response to my Peace Corps application. More energy in the Peace Corps, he said. Draw me a map. I cannot draw well. The map was lopsided, not quite the shape of South America. The energy healer leaned across the table, looking upside down at my map, then dropped his finger in the center of what I had drawn. Here, he said. Here are the people you need to meet and the things you need to learn. I stared at the mark from his fingers, thinking it didn’t make sense, it seemed to sit on the border of Chile and something. Now I turned from the mirror before me and walked across my room to face the map of Africa head-on, then raised my finger and placed it on Botswana. Here, I said aloud, here is where he was pointing.

Celia Jeffries is a writer, editor, and teacher whose work has appeared in numerous publications. Her debut novel, Blue Desert (Rootstock Publishing, 2021), was a finalist in both the IPNE literary fiction awards and the May Sarton historical fiction awards.

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