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It rained the day her mother died.
It rained the day her little brother was killed.
And it rained the day she met Ellis Quinn.
No one had expected it to rain that day. Quite frankly everyone had thought they were relatively “out of the woods” in that matter. It was June after all and the day had begun with a lovely, sunny morning. Probably, for most, a cup of piping hot tea or coffee as well. The birds had been singing and the streets, lively and crowded.
Thus, although the day had started off pleasantly and although people had expected sunshine and rainbows for the next few months, rainclouds are hardly known to hold their showers on account of anyone’s expectations, so yes, it rained.
Nataki had woken up before the sun that morning. Her’s was a different story though. Of course, she had far from expected it to rain, but she hadn’t exactly pictured sunshine and rainbows either. It wasn’t at her leisure to expect such things.
She’d quickly readied herself in her typical work dress, eaten a small and conservative breakfast, making sure to leave some leftover for her older brother, Simba, and left the broken down house to walk to work in the black of night without a backward glance.
She and her brother had lived in that old shack for over six years now. When mother was alive, they had rented it from a white couple, whom they did not exactly see eye to eye with, but whom were kind enough to provide them a refuge. Although they had never been without the anxiety of tomorrow, they had lived as happily and contentedly as could be expected. But life is cruel and often snuffs out the light of joy. The white couple had since passed on, as had their mother, leaving them next to penniless in a house they did not own. That had been eight months ago.
Of course they were more than old enough to have gone out and begun their own lives, but they had no place to go in the first place and separation was not intuitive to them. They did everything together. They faced the both tribulations and elations of life as one. They fought and ridiculed each other like any brother and sister, but their bond was stronger than the steel barrel of a brand new colt-peacemaker revolver, and one could hardly reckon who loved the other more. So the two siblings waited in horrible anticipation for the day when the government would suddenly realize the absence of an overdue tax or simply that the owners of the shack had died and discover two black leeches hiding there.
With the ever-looming threat of exposure and eviction, Nataki and Simba lived day to day and ate every meal as if it were their last.
They often spoke late into the night of what they should do if they were ever discovered. Those thoughts commonly brought about depressed and anxious silence. More than that though, they spoke much of their dreams and aspirations in which such conversations were filled with joy and bright eyes. Simba longed to go to college (neither of them had an education above first grade) and get a degree in politics maybe. Nataki longed for adventure and to see the world with her own eyes. They would fantasize about these things for hours, laughing together and imagining one another’s success. That is, until reality and the cold, sharpness of truth settled back in, wherein they would be overcome by silence again and turn over in their beds and go to sleep.
So had the last night unfurled, as most do, for they had little time together out side the hours of night. They both worked multiple jobs, preparing for the worst if it should ever come. Their labor was long and hard and they would not normally come home until the late evening. Sometimes Simba wouldn’t come home at all and Nataki would have to lie in bed hoping and praying her brother didn’t faint from exhaustion.
“Nat?” Simba had asked that passed night.
“Do you think we should ever live to see them?”
“Well out with it dimwit.” Nataki teased, sitting up in her night dress and leaning most of her body on her right elbow.
“See our dreams…” Simba had finally whispered, laying down on his back upon his bed with his hands behind his head. He’d been staring at the ceiling but when he asked this he’d shifted to stare at Nataki. His sister’s face, which had only a moment ago been struggling to hide a smile, was now void of any emotion. She’d then promtly turned toward, and blown out the only lighted candle in the room, and gone to sleep without giving an answer.
The question weighed on her in her dreams that night.
It still weighed on her as she walked to work and watched the sun slowly and sneakily creep over the hills as if it could surprise the day with its magnificence. The day was beginning brightly, but her thoughts clouded what she saw with a virtual darkness.
when she reached the edge of town, people on the streets edged away from her as usual. She was quite used to it and hardly noticed the daily, scrutinizing gestures civilians aimed towards her. Their partiality to pale skin as opposed to her chocolate would have stung her in her younger years but she had acquired a callous since then. Of course, she far from understood the whites’ obsession with hate, and their love of aversion but that was thoroughly beside the point. She was accustomed to it and that was that. Which is to say, when a pasty, spindly, blue-eyed, blond-haired boy failed to glower and growl at her, but skipped passed her with a wink and a smile, she found herself grinning from ear to ear in stunned confusion.
Unlike the rest of the town, he had not avoided her by any amount of distance. He had not crossed the street to evade a disease everyone seemed convinced that she carried. He had simply treated her as an equal, however brief And trivial the treatment may have been. He had treated her like a lady.
Quite forgetting herself, she
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