The tide was low this winter.
Nora clutched her cup of coffee that she hadn’t sipped since she poured it, her hands enjoying the heat on this cold morning of her child’s birth.
She was missing David again. They had talked about getting a house near the beach before Nova was born, but…
Her she was, in her dream house, without the person who she thought was the love of her life.
When the sign ups for segregation started floating around, she signed up without his knowing. If you were Black, you would be able to break all contracts, including marriage contracts, according to the fine print. She was nervous that she wouldn’t be picked. Nora and David had also been planning to have children. Well, David was. Nora was just happy to spend her years with this man.
When she read the fine print again when she was two months pregnant, she cried. Depending on how far along in a pregnancy you were, your chances were lowered to be accepted; the safety of the baby was on the line for a such long journey with the possibility of no doctor.
She rubbed her growing belly as her and David watched the news. He scoffed when the newscaster was talking about the segregation sign ups.
“It’s not bad like it was. Not even close! Right, honey?”
Nora blinked and looked at David. Truly looked at him. She smiled shyly to hide her disgust, but David’s smile quickly disappeared when he saw the disgust had moved to her eyes.
Nora was weeks away from giving birth to her baby as the movers quickly moved in and out of her home, gathering just her things. She had hoped to be gone by the time David got home from work.
A month before she signed her name on the list of people moving to Segregation, a doctor, a lawyer and a counselor sat in her kitchen. She held onto a warm cup of coffee as they talked to her about the dangers of traveling so far along, the terrors the father would be going through since he didn’t know, the ramifications of leaving such a powerful man.
Nora had heard of these type of Black people. They stuck up for other powerful people, even if they themselves didn’t have a penny to their name. They would lay out roses petals for people like David, and Nora if she had been born white, and praise them as better, as sort of a father figure.
Even if they weren’t related, these people would be known as the Goods. The Good Negroes, fully.
Nora still clutched her cup, watching these Goods try to ruin her chance at a sliver of freedom. They saw the things she’s saw, heard the news she heard, and yet, here they sat in her kitchen, each of them wondering why and how they could betray each other. Nora, wondering why they don’t want be with other Black people. They, wondering why she would chose to leave the veil of safety and civility.
“I’m going,” she blurted out, cutting off the counselor talking about the depression David would be going through should she leave. They huffed and pulled out stacks of papers, telling her to sign here, initial there, check this off, circle that.
She watched as the movers put the last bit of her life into the small moving van. She didn’t realize how much of her own being had been swallowed up by David. She thought she would have needed a huge truck, but she only needed a van after having gone through the house and marking things that were hers.
She locked up the house and left the key in the mailbox. Her heart stopped as she saw David’s car speed down the street, a hot red dot growing bigger. She turned her head to the right and saw the curtains in one of the houses flutter close. She squinted, rage bubbling up.
That particular neighbor hated Nora, so why she would call David when Nora was giving her a quiet kindness made her bite the inside of her cheek.
“Nora! Nora, please don’t go! I-I can change! Nora, baby, please!” David cried out as he got out the car. Nora fixed her attention to David, the rage she had been boiling for 3 years being cut off by seeing his pitiful face. He stopped yelling pleads and just fell to his knees, watching her get into the moving van with help.
It was 3 months before she was able to get her home, so she had Nova in the holding center, an updated and improved super KMart meant to house hundreds, surrounded by Black herbalists, doulas and nurses. The day she moved into her two bedroom home that was a two minute walk to the beach, her and Nova were greeted by her neighbors, a Black lesbian couple with two young children of their own and their dog, Ruffles.
She poured the coffee down the sink, the heat having disappeared and she didn’t like coffee to drink. She washed her cup, rinsed the sink and turned off the kitchen light, making her way to Nova’s room.
The toddler slept wildly on their robot bed, clutching a stuffed animal they had gotten hours before as a birthday gift from Kelly next door. The wind kicked up a bit, a soft roll of thunder clapped miles away. Nora tucked Nova back under their blankets, kissed their cheek and whispered goodnight before leaving the room.
Lightning flashed across the sky, David’s silhouette standing outside of Nova’s room.