[A short story, based on the prompt: “Write a story about change”]
We stood cross-foot under his statue. My beloved Martin Luther King would loom over us with his characteristic frowned pose. As if he could see all the injustice surrounding us in the world. As if he could feel all the pain in his own body for every person separately, and he was equally hurt for every wrongdoing thrown upon us. But he would still decide to keep it down, he would still manage to push the aggression inside him because he knew that was the only way to bring change. The only chance for something good maybe. Ohh you should see his statue in the memorial library in Washington. You can feel the flames burning inside him like a fire ready to diminish everything on its path. We could all feel it by just being there. The place would offer a strange vibe, powerful but silent at the same time as if you had to take care of your words. As if the place was sacred.
At some point, we decided to take turns and speak our minds in front of everyone. The same way the ancient Greeks used to do back in the Acropolis, where they would gather around and make speeches in turn. And that was so poetic and liberating. One by one we would stand up and express our feelings, pouring our gut out for everyone to see. But somehow we all knew it was safe, no one was there to judge or criticize us. It was all received with acceptance. Acceptance and love. And no don’t ask me what I talked about because I can’t even remember anything from it. It all resembles the acts of a drunk person, hazed out from the powerful emotions. Who knows maybe we should come up with a new term, like ’emotional hangover’?
It wasn’t long till Daniel stood up for his speech. Ohh his words were so impactful and relatable. He would pose erect with his head straight up and proud, and speak with his usual exaggerated gestures feeling every word. And somehow it was as if he was talking straight to our hearts.
«There was never a time that would require every bit of our attention as this one.» he started slow, spreading the silence all around. «Every part of our history is dyed with blood from those that had the guts to stand tall against oppression and injustice. Our past is nothing but pain and exploitation out of the worst of conditions.» everybody shivered and shuddered in the words. «Yet we managed to go through it every single time. We managed to prevail. And that’s what we are going to do this time as well.»
His speech was so powerful and encouraging. As if it was giving us hope and warming our hearts amidst the darkness. And it was so important to hear a voice speak up for us. All the incidents of the last days, all the fuss and the noise had got the better of us. You could see it through the eyes of everyone.
I actually went through a terrible night’s sleep myself the previous day. I saw one of the worst nightmares I ever had in my life. I was alone in my room lying down in the bed when a sudden burst came out of the window. As I looked over I saw the windows breaking down and water coming through, filling my room faster and faster. I stood over my bed resting against the wall hoping for something to happen but the water wouldn’t stop flowing in. It was streaming inside with extreme pressure as if a river was outflowing inside my home. And then I looked at the water and I noticed it was turning red. Red like blood. I panicked and screamed. I tried to jump out but my hands were tied in the bed-frame blocking me from moving anywhere. And then a black raven came to the window and started crowing with high pitch yields before it left.
It was the most terrible thing I had ever seen in my life. My heart kept beating for a long time after as I was trying to make sense of it. And it’s really strange why a crow would appear like that. Why not something else like an eagle or a dove even. It was so sad.
But enough with my dream. As time passed we gathered our stuff, all the banners, and the signs and we took off to the independence avenue. It seemed like it was the metaphorical road we were walking towards our real independence, towards our freedom sort of speak. The weather was cloudy and moody, maybe a bit aggressive but our spirit would continue unyielded. Along the way, we would chant for «independence», «freedom» and «justice». Our voices would come together united as we marched side by side holding our hands. For a moment it felt as if we were all one body, one entity with his own mind and personality. Our little selves got lost under the power of the greater group and it was as if together we could achieve much bigger things. Even our wildest dreams that we would never admit to anyone.
As we marched towards the White House our minds and souls were synchronized and connected. People would stop and look at us as we passed right from them and the funny thing was that many would join out of nowhere. The little team we started over, in the beginning, ended up being a considerate size. Considerate enough to draw the attention anyway.
Many of the people carried within them so much anger and fury. I could feel their resentment ready to explode like a volcano in the first excuse or sign they would find. People would always say how black people were so resilient and patient throughout history. We always learned to hide our feelings and keep them deep down from the surface, as if only certain kinds of people are eligible to them. We were taught that this was the best way to survive a world not meant to be friendly or supporting to us. By keeping our heads down and our mouths shut. But I can tell you our little composure and restrain is losing ground day by day. People are fed up with it and can jump into impulsive reactions out of nowhere. Like a slingshot that is pulled back tighter and tighter till it’s released and demolishes everything it finds.
As we started getting closer and closer we passed in front of a couple of police officers. Daniel who was already in the front row jumped out of the line and plunged on them starting preaching on their abuse and mistreatment on the black people.
«You guys stamp your boots on our heads every day it passes.» he would say standing opposite of them. «You are targeting us as your enemy when the biggest enemy is out there and has no color at all.»
The two policemen would stand and look at him with their hands on their waste and I thought that the whole thing was just a small burst before we continue our business. But as he turned around to rejoin the group one of the police officers took out his globe and hit him in the head. They threw him down and started punching him right in front of our eyes. People would yell to them to stop but they would not listen to anyone. Their globes would rise up and down continuously like a mechanical movement. They kept going in hurting him cold-blooded like robots doing their heartless job. It didn’t take long for people to jump in. It was meant to be a peaceful demonstration without any damage whatsoever but this incident turned everything upside down.
People could hold out no more. It was a split moment of decision of keeping everything together trying to be logical and letting everything loose allowing havoc and chaos to take hold. And the chains broke up into a thousand pieces. They jumped over the policemen with all the anger and fury they were hiding inside them all these years. Imagine all the aggregated oppression let out in one moment. It was ferocious.
The two policemen tried to push back and forwarn everybody but to no good. The whole body was unleashed like a chimera ready to eat anything on its path. We took Daniel out of their hands and disarmed them. It was at this moment that we knew how the whole night would go down. It wasn’t long till a whole unit of cops arrived and the whole area transformed into a war zone. Rocks and objects kept thrown back and forth and the hits were merciless. The sky turned red and earth was transformed into the devil’s arena.
But all this mayhem was not about destruction and had nothing to do with them or police. Let me reassure you of this. It was all an act of grief. Grief of how an 18 years old boy lost his life out of an overzealous cop. How all the potential for life and joy turned into darkness and death because of the misjudge of one person. «I thought he was carrying a gun» he said. That’s how he explained shooting a young man. «I thought…». And he killed him..our little boy…just like that…
You should see them that night how they were fighting them. Like it was the last day on earth and that was their last battle. «Tonight we don’t fight just for us..» Daniel would yell. «We fight for our values and everything we believe in..» And then everybody would scream and yield into the feast of blood. «Tonight..we revel in the decadence..». The night had taken a turn of its own and nobody could actually control or understand it.
And now I’m close to losing you too. And I’m not sure I can move on if I don’t have you on my side. I need my husband back and I know you are somewhere in there and you can hear me. Doctors say a coma is uncertain and may take a long time to resolve. But I don’t believe them…I know you’ll be back in no time…I’m gonna be here waiting for you. As long as it takes…0