(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The narrator, a twenty-five-year-old Haitian prostitute, provides a first-person account of a night in her life as a night woman. It is a hot tropical night, the time of day she most dreads but must endure in order to live. She has just put her young son to bed in her tiny one-room house, with only a curtain separating his “bedroom” from her place of business. She has let him wear, as usual, his Sunday clothes in bed, along with her blood-red scarf, worn in the daytime to tempt suitors; thus he will always have something of hers near him when her face is out of sight. In the dark, for a moment, she almost mistakes him for the ghost of his father, a lover long gone.

There are two kinds of women, she thinks—day women and night women—she being actually caught between the two. Her son mutters faintly in his sleep, and she fears he may climb out of bed to find her on the other side of the curtain.

She strokes his cheeks with her lips, his reaction telling her whether he is really asleep. Sometimes she sees in his eyes a longing for something more. “We are like far away lovers, lying to one another, under different moons,” she thinks. Her finger caresses the cleft under his nose; sometimes he will lick her nails. She thinks of ghost women who “ride the crests of waves while brushing the stars out of their hair,” wooing strollers and strewing the stars on their paths. She whispers stories in his ear about these ghost women with the...

(The entire section is 506 words.)