At some point during the evening, Sadie had removed every stitch of her nightclothes. I turned away while she threw on a blue peignoir.
As we Descended the stairs together, I secretly wondered what it would be like to sway my hips down a staircase, to have men ogle at me with carnal designs. To have a body like Sadie’s. Only curiosity, of course. I often pictured myself in alternative scenarios—a famous writer, a composer, a student of nature and all living things. And, of recent, I pondered working as an advocate for women’s rights.
The kitchen abuzz with chatter, I took a seat next to Sadie.
“So you worked up an appetite did you, Sassy Sarah?” Miss Fannie grinned.
“Yep, sure did.”
Miss Reba refilled Sassy Sarah’s coffee cup. “Sounds like Lawrence P. came last night.”
Sassy flipped her red hair to the side. “He came alright. And came and came.”
While everyone laughed, I felt the heat of my cheeks and turned my head.
Sadie threw her hands over her ears and rocked back and forth. “Just no jail, no jail, no jail …”
When tears tumbled down Sadie’s cheeks, I caught Louis’s look of compassion—the same as Meta’s, the same as Reba’s. The same as mine.
“I won’t let you go to jail, Sadie. That’s what this is all about,” John said, his voice softer. “But you need to do what we suggest. I have a plan. But we have to find you a hide-away, some place safe other than here.”
Silence slithered around the frank, yet well-meaning posse while the irony struck me as funny. Over the years, the surrounding walls had safely protected politicians, successful businessmen, and Notorious train robbers. Now, they weren’t strong enough to protect my hard working and best girl who felt more like kin.
Reba thumped the settee’s armrest gathering our attention. “Fannie, what we ain’t gonna do is snap a fine branch off this family tree and throw it to the fire. If she gotta leave, it better be a damn good place so’s she can come home when time’s right.”
A moment passed and I felt the soft squeeze of Meta’s hand.