Sometimes there are stories inside of us just waiting to be told. This is my attempt at telling one through the genre of realistic fiction. I imagine each reader will come away with something different. If it touches you please leave a comment explaining how.
Marcus had played the game well. Stayed out of trouble. Gotten good grades. Three sport athlete and this year’s homecoming king. Last week he got a letter in the mail letting him know that he would be receiving a full scholarship to State University. An academic scholarship!
But he still felt the stares in certain parts of town. He was used to it by now. More than anything, he hoped it wouldn’t be this way for his younger brother. Maybe things would change. Probably not. But he hadn’t given up hope.
Dating a white girl wasn’t that big a deal. At school. But once he left campus, it was a whole different story. He made it a point to take her out of town on the weekends. It was just easier that way. Besides, the city had a lot more going on anyway.
This weekend though they would have to stay in town. It was the Christmas Dance and Jordan really wanted to go. They decided just to order pizza at her house instead of going out to eat. Plus, her parents were working late, so they had to watch her little sister Riley until they got home. Marcus didn’t mind. The first time he went to pick Jordan up for a date he was a little nervous. Not quite sure how her parents were going to react to their daughter dating him. After that night he never worried again. He had become like one of the family.
The dance wasn’t until 8 and Jordan still had to get her nails done. She took Marcus’ keys and told him she’d be right back. He was used to her by now. Her last minute touch-ups, as she liked to call them. Marcus and Riley both rolled their eyes. They knew Jordan would be much longer than a half hour. But they didn’t care. They decided to make some pop corn and put on a movie. Marcus remembered he had just borrowed The Good Dinosaur from a friend for his little brother. It was still in his backpack.
About halfway through the movie Riley started to cough and could not stop. Coughing suddenly turned in to choking. Riley’s face started to turn purple. Marcus did his best impression of the Heimlich Maneuver, but it didn’t seem to be working. He started screaming for help while Riley continued to choke. As he cradled her tiny head in his arms, tears ran down his face. He didn’t know what to do.
All of the sudden, the front door flew open and two cops busted in. One went straight for Riley and was able to dislodge whatever she was choking on. The other, slammed Marcus down on the ground and began screaming at him.
The call they had gotten from a neighbor was accurate.
No cars in the driveway! A loud and angry black man!! In a white family’s home!!!
Where’s your id!?
What are you doing here!?
Why were you hurting this little girl!?
He told told them his wallet was in his SUV.
There was no SUV parked out front
He told them he was watching his girlfriend’s sister.
There was no girlfriend.
He told them he wasn’t hurting her.
But she was crying and unable to tell them otherwise.
Three lies in a row just made this whole situation a whole lot worse for Marcus. He couldn’t believe that all of this happened so fast. One minute he and Riley were watching The Good Dinosaur on the couch and eating pop corn and the next he was in handcuffs and Riley was…
He just realized that he had no idea where she was.
He asked the cop.
He asked a little louder.
Still no answer.
He then tapped the cop on the shoulder to get his attention.
That was the last thing he could remember. When he woke up he was lying on the floor of a jail cell. His right eye was swollen shut and his left eye was badly cut. As bad as he felt and as mad as he was, all he could think about was Riley. Where had they taken her? Was she okay?
And then he saw her. In the corner. Sound asleep on a bench. Wearing the pink Old Navy sweatshirt he bought her for her birthday. Pink was her favorite color and Old Navy was her favorite place to shop. Riley loved going there because she would always pretend that she was in a fashion show. Marcus would introduce her and she would strut out on the pretend catwalk. Everyone always gave them strange looks, including Jordan, but they didn’t care.
“Riley,” he whispered.
She didn’t move.
“Riley,” he said a bit louder.
He had to know that she was okay. He hated the fact that she had probably cried herself to sleep. He hated the fact that he couldn’t help her. Hold her. He hated the fact that she had to witness any of this. Marcus’ younger brother knew all about this. Marcus had prepared him. Just in case. But Riley? No way.
Just then a cop opened his cell door and put the cuffs back on him. When Marcus asked why, the officer hit him in the face with his club. Over and over and over. Until he began choking. The cops acted as if they had no idea what to do. Maybe they were just going to let him choke. Maybe they were just going to let him…
a small pair of hands,
began to cradle Marcus’ head.
As best they could.
And the choking stopped.
They yanked her away. But it was too late. Her pink sweatshirt was now crimson red. Marcus laid his head back down and went to sleep. He now knew that Riley was okay. And that meant so was he.
The cops couldn’t believe what they had just witnessed. They thought she was asleep. Her eyes appeared to be shut and she hadn’t moved in hours. But they were wrong. She had never taken her eyes off of Marcus. Not even for a moment. Riley knew better. After what she had seen tonight?
From now on her eyes would always be wide open.
Whether she liked it or not.