WATCHTOWER BRIDE

“The sun will be settin soon, cher.”  Her mother sat knitting by the fireplace. Harlow kept her eyes to the reddening sky. Leaning against the balcony, rail she watched Lake Ponchatrain. “I know.”  She listened to the streetcars below, and Ms. Obear fussing at her youngest son not to eat the benegeies she just made. “He ain’t comin, Harry.” Harlow shifted her weight against the balcony. “I ain’t waitin on him.”

Her mother rocked, chuckling to herself. Harlow kept her position, watching the sky go from crimson to navy. “See, you gon be onna dem watchtower brides. Watching for a man that aint yours, by no means, and ain’t worried about chew.” Harlow sucked her teeth. “I aint waiting on him, mama.”  Her mother chuckled harder,  keeping her eyes on her stitching. “You is waiting on him. He ain’t thankin bout you.” Harlow walked away from the balcony, past her mother and toward the stairs towards her room. She shook her hair out as she went, the wood warm under her feet.

Harlow, in  her room, sat behind her door, head in her hands. She replayed the last night again. She remembered how he smelled, his mouth tasted. It was dark, as he held her to him.  She remembered the streetlights outside Metatarie Cemetery, how shiny slick the wrought iron gating was. “Wait for me, Nina.” She kissed him, needing the memory of his mouth to hush the fear inside her. “I’ll come get you.” Kisses then. “Before you know it, I’ll be there. You can’t hide from me.” His eyes read into her, looking for the no in her. “I don’t know if I can.”

Months passed. Letters exchanged at rendezvous points, left under benches and behind street signs. He was okay. He loved her. She was his baby. I miss you, Nina. Every week, there was a letter. She was constantly walking in their space, in-between the world seen and felt. She hadn’t gone to the Quarter in a week, she had been ill. Headaches. Chills. Body aches. Her palms were slick with tears, remembering him. “I’ll wait, Nick. Imma wait.”

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