When The Shadow passed over the sun, Nzinga Black lifted her eyes from the doodles in her math notebook and directed then toward the window. She could see the harbor from her seat; something was happening on the water. Relief and foreboding filled her heart.
Death is coming.
The bell rang, signaling the end of class. Slowly, she gathered her things. Textbook. Notebook. Pencil case. These she slid into her purple canvas shoulder bag. Pushing back her chair, she stood, leather Mary Janes gently tapping the floor. Her legs, clad in pink and white striped thigh high stockings, carried her to the open classroom door.
She ignored the circus in the hallway. Students laughed, yelled to their friends, opened and closed lockers; Nzinga heard nothing other than a faint buzz. With her head slightly bowed, she peered through pink and purple bangs and focused on placing one foot in front of the other. Her black gauzy skirt swished around her knees as she walked.
Death is coming.
She frowned, but continued to walk. Even if this was her final day, she needed to make it to her next class, on time and unmolested, in order to avoid being singled out by her history teacher, Mr. Pitts. The scheduled lesson for today’s class was the Atlantic Slave Trade, and Nzinga needed to be invisible. True, her chosen style of dress was no one’s idea of blending in; when she chose her identity, it seemed like fun to be an almost six foot tall punkemogothchick (and that was almost always said as one word). However, she usually managed to escape the spotlight in her classes. All of them, except history.
She wondered briefly if Mr. Pitts knew more than he should.
As she rounded the corner and approached the correct classroom door, she crashed into a hard, male body. Forcing herself to lift her head, she allowed her eyes to roam from the expensive basketball shoes, up past the loose jeans and long t-shirt, and into the deep green eyes of her classmate, Jacob Worthy.
“Watch where you’re going!” he barked. The deep timbre of his voice made several people glance in the direction of the commotion.
Feeling their hot stares, Nzinga blinked languidly, and whispered, “Excuse me. Please.” She attempted to push past the lanky teen, but found her pathway blocked.
Jacob leaned down, pressing his face close to hers. “What was that?” he mocked.
Angry now, she heard herself say to him, “Death is coming. For you.” Startled, he pulled away from her. Nzinga squeezed past him, and continued her slow march into the room.
“Spooky bitch,” the boy muttered as he followed her inside.
Clutching her bag to her chest, she settled into her assigned seat. Her stomach churned with the fear that she had said something that she should not have. She closed her eyes, offering an apology to the Darkness Within for her slip. When she finished, she felt a pair of eyes boring into her back.
Marcus James, the dreadlocked, revolution seeking, Malcolm X quoting, armchair scholar, (and, incidentally, the only other dark face in the classroom) nodded twice, and blinked slowly. Nzinga nodded in return, and twisted back around to face the front of the room. The churning in her gut stopped. She did not break any rules by mouthing off to Jacob. As the bell sounded, now signaling the start of class, her eyes went to the clock mounted on the wall.
Death is coming.
And it would arrive very, very soon.