Welcome Back Students.

Everything had happened in a matter of seconds. It was the first time I had seen a fight and most certainly the first time I had witnessed anyone die right in front of me. Shocked, I sat in the front office of the school holding myself as if in a blizzard. I watched as everyone moved on with their lives as if nothing had happened. To them, it seemed like a sad excuse to shuffle around more paperwork – the only noticeable difference to any other day. There would be no news coverage. To the news, it was just another day, the story wasn’t special and the high school certainly didn’t want the responsibility of bad PR. I didn’t understand.

To me, it was a turning point of the reality I perceived. My innocence was captured by a brief visit to a reality that once moved past me and now, nearly swallowed me whole. When their version of the story was described to me based on the accounts of other witnesses, all I could do was nod in silent agreement. No one was asking why. The why was already explained and seemingly allowed by the fact that it happened between a black student and a mexican student. Even the authorities seemed to operate as if it had nothing to do with them and would be best to just stay out of it. None of it seemed real. I hardly believed it for myself until my sister walked me through that same heavy front door with one hand rested reassuringly on my back and then I saw the dark, reddish-purple handprint at the hood of a parked car and an already forgotten stain on the now empty platform. There was only the sound of a large, vinyl banner waving back and forth in a light, summer breeze. Distracted by the sound, I burst into tears as I saw the sign for the first time, “Welcome Back Students! The First Day of your Future…”

Excerpt from my short story, Welcome Back Students, to be published in the Race Card anthology this April (2014).


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