What kind of future would they have together?
January 5, 2014
A VG Serial: Nelson & Cora
Chapter 33 – 2
Just lie, she told herself. Just don’t say yes.
Nelson pushed the ottoman back with his feet. He waited. He would sit there, however long it took, and wait for an answer. His whole world depended on her answer. Nelson tried to stay calm. He tried not to let his feelings show. If she said no, he would do all that he could to accept it. He would make small talk until she was well enough to return home. But, he was praying that she would say yes.
“My brother will be taking legal action against your father,” Cora said.
Nelson looked away. He was heartbroken, but he wouldn’t embarrass her.
“I know,” Nelson said. “He came here earlier and talked to George.”
“Thomas was here?” she asked. “Is he alright?”
“Yes, of course. Why?” Nelson put his hands on his knees and leaned further away from her.
“I didn’t know. I hadn’t seen him since last night. I didn’t know if maybe …”
“If maybe my father had done something to him,” Nelson finished for her.
Cora’s face flushed with embarrassment. That was awful to say, but true. She looked down at her lap. She was making an awful mess of everything.
“Cora, what happened to your face? Who did that to you?” Nelson asked. Whether or not she returned his love, he couldn’t hide his anger that someone would ever raise a hand to her.
She started telling him about the meeting and the walk home with her father. She toldhim about her uncles and how her mother acted like they were dead before they were.
Nelson wasn’t sure how this tied into her swollen, bruised cheek, but he listened patiently.
Cora told him about waking up late this morning and sitting at the table and hearing about Edgar and Jonathan. She told him how her father looked, sitting there with his face in his hands. Cora told him about her parents saying that Thomas was in danger too.
Finally, Cora said that her mother had done this to her. She told him that her mother had slapped her several times, all in a row, fast as lightning. Cora told Nelson how her father had finally stopped her mother. She told Nelson that her father told her to get out, to leave, that he would find her later, but that right then she had to get away from them.
“She threatened to kill me, to disown me,” Cora said.
Nelson stood up. He didn’t care who it was. No one would be allowed to treat her this way. He shoved the ottoman back, and Cora’s feet fell to the floor.
“Why would your mother do that? Why would she say those things to you?” Nelson’s voice filled the apartment.
“Why would your mother hit you?” Nelson said.
Cora started crying again. “Please stop. Please stop it, Nelson. Stop it.”
He looked down at her. She was shaking again. He fell to his knees in front of the chair.
“Oh Cora, sweet Cora. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…” he took her hands away from her face.
He sat on the floor in front of her, holding her hands.
“Why would she do those things to you? I don’t understand it.”
“I told her that I knew you,” Cora said and looked away. Her voice was so low, he barely heard her.
“What?” Nelson was trying to stay calm. He was trying to keep his voice gentle and steady. “Cora, what was that?”
She looked in his eyes and said a bit louder, “I told her I knew you.”
“Cora, I know a lot of people. You know a lot of people. Why would a mother hit her own daughter just for knowing someone. What happened, Cora?”
She squinted her eyes. “What do you mean, Nelson?” Her tone changed.
“What do you mean asking me what happened? I told you what happened.”
“I only meant that I don’t understand,” Nelson said.
“That’s not how it sounded, Nelson. It sounded like you don’t believe me,” Cora said as she pushed her hair away from her face.
“What? Of course I believe you. Of course I do. I just don’t understand it. That’s all,” he said.
Nelson didn’t know what to do. How could Cora’s mother have done this to her just because Cora knew him? His face flushed when he thought that he could have brought this on her. She could never love him, if this is what she got for even knowing him. Only a fool would love him with this as the punishment.
Cora was silent.
Nelson’s thoughts raced from images of his father’s anger if he ever found out that
Nelson loved her, could see himself marrying her and raising a family. His father would disown him, just like Alvis had done with his son.
Nelson thought of leaving the plantation and never seeing it again.
What would become of Mattie?
He would go back and get Apollo, Nelson thought. He’d tell Mattie when he went to get
Apollo. He’d promise Mattie that if she went with him, she would always have a place to stay and food to eat, even if he couldn’t pay her. He would tell her that she should come with him, that it wasn’t safe for her there.
Nelson thought about telling George and Gert, and he thought about how he would probably never see them again. Sweet Gert. But, what connection could Nelson have after finding out that George would defend their father no matter what he did or why he did it to. But, what could he do about Gert? Could he trust George enough to take care of her, keep her at the school, protect her from Randall and Analisa?
Nelson didn’t know. He didn’t know if George would do that, and Nelson could never leave Gert unless he knew she was safe.
Images of Gert and Mattie kept running through his head. He could never leave them.
He could never leave McGinnis Plantation. Nelson couldn’t leave them alone, unprotected, at the mercy of Randall and Analisa.
Cora sat silent and watched Nelson’s face.
She whispered, “I do love you, Nelson.”
He was mulling over all the people who were dependent on him, the people who would be abandoned if he left, if he ever thought of starting a life outside of Kentucky. And, that would be what was necessary if he and Cora could ever have a life together. It would be one that had to be outside of Kentucky. A future with her – but, what kind of future could they have?
Chapters of the serial are published on Sunday.
You can learn more about Nelson & Cora on Amazon.