She is in a cloche hat and chunk heels, one strap across each ankle, her calf-length dress all lavender fringes and lace. Defly, she waggles her legs in ways that make the guests all laugh until they forget how hard it is here, to be black and act citified. The flat has gone hazy with smoke; its wood floors scuff and rumble under those who’ve chosen to dance.
A quarter earned everyone their entrance, but contraband is fifty cent a cup. When the air grows warm and dense with corn-liquored breath, she counts the contents of her can. There is rent enough for three months.
You do not worry, in 1926, whether she’ll make it. You needn’t wonder what she’s working toward. Wit and resourcefulness go far here, and here, her sand-and-copper hair, glittery eyes, and throaty laugh can insulate her. White benefactors have not yet taken to flinging themselves…
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