Brownsville, Family & Friends

IN HONOR OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH – NESSA

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I do not know anything about my great great great grandmother (who was married to Moses) but I wrote this short story in her honor.  This is another aunt of mine I used as an aspiration.

In the darkness of the early morning Nessa heard the snores of her husband and children fill the house. She had thirty minutes before Moses woke up and then only an additional fifteen minutes before all of the kids were stretching and heading towards the kitchen.

 

She fried the bacon and sausage together in the large black iron skillet she inherited from her mother while she whipped half a dozen eggs with salt, pepper, and bit of milk in a medium sized glass bowl. She’d put the dough together for the biscuits the night before so they sat in the oven waiting to become the perfect golden brown on top and bottom. She still cut off pieces of bread from the loaf to be eaten with the meal so there would be biscuits left for the kids and her husband to carry for lunch.

 

Moses even liked to take a few strips of bacon with him to go after eating his full share of everything. Richard, the oldest at 17, ate the second most but Edmond, 15, and Tyrone, 12, put in a good effort to beat him. Naomi, the youngest girl, would only eat cereal and Bobbi, the oldest girl at 14, barely ate at all. Nessa didn’t dare touch any food until after everyone else ate.

 

When Moses sat in his chair at the head of the table all of the food was laid out on the table ready for his pickings. The children soon followed and they engulfed the food while she started on the dishes. Luckily she ate a bit as she cooked so by the time the frenzy started her belly full enough.

 

As she washed the dishes her mind began to drift to her trip into Manhattan a few days ago. She went into the city to pick up material for her church to make new choir robes for the church’s 20th Anniversary. They could have bought cheaper cloth in Brooklyn but a 20th Anniversary only happens once and the members agreed to work together to raise the money not only for new robes but also for decorations, food, and a small gift for the pastor.

 

She was looking forward to the Anniversary celebration because her church family was just an extension of her actual family. She was an active member of the church ensuring that her children were there every Sunday and attended every Bible study course. The only person she didn’t have a hold on was Moses. He used his job as an excuse as often as possible but never chastised her for all the time she spent there.

 

As she washed the large black skillet she thought of the conversation she’d had with Moses the night after she came home from the city. Moses had the same routine for morning and evening so Nessa knew bringing something up shortly after he put on his pajamas caught Moses in his most relaxed state when he was most likely to agree to something.

 

“So I was in the city today.” She wanted him to be aware of her comings and goings so she often told him exactly where she went everyday.

 

“Why?” She didn’t often go into the city. Brooklyn had just about everything the city had and they couldn’t really afford to buy anything in the city so he was always a bit suspicious when Nessa mentioned going there.

 

“I had to pick up the new cloth for the choir robes for the 20th Anniversary celebration. You know the colors are white and gold. We have all the decorations and the food will be taken care of. So now that we have the material for the robes we’re just about set.” She paused to see if he was really interested and his brown eyes were fixed on her lips so she knew he was.

 

“I made my dress already. It’s all white with a little lace on the trim at the bottom. I didn’t have to spend any money on new cloth. I had everything I needed right in my closet.”

 

“That’s good.” He was thinking that she was going to ask for money for new cloth but before his relief was fully realized Nessa continued.

 

“The only thing is that I don’t have a white hat and you know I don’t know how to make hats.”

 

“How much is it?”

 

“What?”

 

“The hat. How much is it.” Moses already knew he was going to give her the money before he asked but he needed to know just how hard he needed to work to get it.

 

“It’s $2. But it’s perfect – white with a bit of lace. Being that I’m on the usher board I could were it every Sunday. The money will not go to waste.”

 

“Let me think about it.” Nessa knew that “I’ll think about it” probably meant he would give her the money but the only way to be certain was to never bring it up again. He didn’t like feeling coerced. The decision had to be his own.

In the kitchen that morning Nessa was so engrossed in her own thoughts time passed by and she didn’t realize that all the food she’d made was gone. Moses stood in front of her

reached in his pocket, pulled out two dollars, cupped the money in his hand so the children wouldn’t see, took Nessa’s hand, kissed her goodbye and effortlessly transferred the money.

 

She didn’t have time to say thank you. And she couldn’t show any change of expression that would attract the attention of the children.

 

At 6:30am she sat in the living room and took a deep breath before starting the laundry. She wondered how she could show Moses how much she appreciated him. She felt his love knew no bounds and she had to do something more than prepare one of his favorite meals to assure him that she felt the same way.

 

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