"Adale" [Excerpt from Blue Talk and Love]

         by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

              Clusters of church women moved down Broadway in low, clinking heels, past the police barricades and heaps of renovation lumber that lined some of the blocks. At the corners, they gathered, piling into town car cabs on their way to Sunday service.  Dominique recognized some of the women in one group from her mother’s church. She paused and gave a dutiful smile as she approached, just as the women piled into a maroon Lincoln. One woman in a plush fur coat rolled down the back window and stuck her hand out into the air in front of the new GNC Nutrition Store.

            “Hey, baby!” Her lips were painted a bright, festive red. She gave Dominique a wide smile from the cavern of the cab.

            “Hi.” Dominique smiled benignly again and rested her hand on her belly. She couldn’t remember the woman’s name, and she was sure the woman didn’t remember hers, but it didn’t matter. She was a woman from the church, Dominique was Mrs. Potter’s daughter, and that was that. This easy anonymity was comforting. “How you doin’ this mornin’?”

            “Fine, sugar, don’t pay to complain.” The woman smiled and pointed to Dominique’s stomach. “When you due?”

            “Three-and-a-half weeks.” Now a real smile spread on Dominique’s face, her skin warming in the cold. “Hopefully she’ll be a Valentine’s baby.”

            “Well, God bless you!” The cab began to roll forward. “Tell your mother I said happy New Year! Tell her make sure she call me fore y’all go upstate. My sister’s up there—Ella, you remember, used to work at the World Trade. She been up there a year now. Say the quiet gets to her, but leas’ she can pay the rent easy. Told me she taken to gardening. Turnips, of all the things.” She sighed. “Anyway, tell your mama we’ll miss her. This place is changing faster than I-don’t-know what. But I wish y’all the best. Specially that little one!” She pointed to Dominique’s belly again. Then she gave a final smile and the window screeched up into its groove as the car sped ahead.

            Cold air smacking her teeth, Dominique thought of Adale, and of the place she would think have to think of as home when the family left Harlem. She imagined her baby girl born into a buildingless place of cars and malls and dark trees whose bushy green tops crowded the sky. There would be no music on the streets, no subways or corner stores. What there would be was a thick sun like in the commercials. There would be mud, grass, her and her family out there, somewhere, in a short two-bedroom house, but with heat, the rent paid, more and better food to eat. It could be alright for Adale to grow up someplace like that, Dominique practiced telling herself. She closed her eyes and tried to believe it, feeling the baby kick.

Blue Talk and Love is now available on Amazon