Jamia jumped onto her mother’s bed. She saw her mother, Marian, reading a book. The title said, ‘The Elementals.’ The cover was orange and the binding was black.
“Hey sweetheart, what’s wrong?” Marian asked, pulling Jamia up close to her and setting her book down next to her.
“The Gray kid at school punched Julian and called us ‘filthy blazes.’ He said all Reds are like the guy on TV who was arrested the other day. He said all of us should be taken away.” She replied, leaning her head on her mother’s chest.
“And how did you respond to that?” Marian asked, trying not to show her anger.
“I kicked him in the nuts, and told him if he ever came near Julian again I’d kill him.” Jamia replied, smiling proudly.
“And what did he do?” Marian asked.
“He ran back to his two Green friends.” Jamia said, smirking, “and I helped Julian.”
“I’m proud of you Jamia.” Marian replied. No one ever stood up to Grays. Most Reds didn’t even get a chance to speak with a Gray, let alone attend school with one. The president had everything set up so Grays would get better jobs, Grays would make more money, Grays would get better educations, and Grays would stay powerful. Of course, there were exceptions. The kid at school was an example, but exceptions going the other way were much harder to come across. There was currently only one Red in power. Richard Hart, owner of Hart inc. His company was where Reds bought food, appliances, and anything else they needed.
“He didn’t tell any teachers?” Marian asked, slightly surprised he hadn’t.
“Nope, he just cried about it to his Green friends.”
“Why does it matter that they’re Greens?” Marian asked.
“I don’t know, it just does.” Jamia replied, looking at the bed.
Marian nodded before running a hand through her daughter’s blood-colored hair.
“You need to remember something Jamia. You need to beat this into your head until it sticks, and then you need to beat it into your brother’s head until it sticks in there too. Okay?” Marian put her hand under Jamia’s chin and made her look right into Marian’s eyes.
“You are a human being. You are a beautiful, amazing, lovable, kind, caring, humane, stubborn, short-tempered human. And no Gray can take that away from you. Ever. Do you understand?” Marian looked more serious than Jamia had ever seen her.
“Yeah Mom. Those assholes won’t hold me back! I’ll become president and fix this system so everyone is equal!” Jamia declared, raising a fist in the air.
“Don’t curse.” Marian smiled at her daughter, “But yes, I’m sure they won’t.”
Jamia woke to the sound of a loud bird call. At first she was mad for losing sleep, but then she was relieved. The bird had woken her up before the dream jumped to the worst day of her life, like it did every single night. She usually woke up after and she would wake to the sound of her mother’s scream.
Jamia rubbed her face in an attempt to wake herself up. While doing so, she felt water on her cheeks and under her eyes. She saw a drop fall from her face onto the leaf-covered ground. She quickly scrambled to her feet before grabbing her backpack and continuing to run.
As she ran towards the spot in the woods she and Julian had agreed to meet at if the Grays found them. As she ran, she felt the small flip-phone in her pocket vibrate. She pulled it out as she jumped over a fallen log.
Julian had sent her one word.
Jamia stopped running. He wouldn’t have told her to run unless... unless...
Jamia quickly followed his advice, running in the complete opposite direction away from the spot they had agreed to meet at. A few seconds after she made her decision, the sound of a gunshot rang through the forest.
Jamia almost stopped. Almost. She came so close to giving up in that moment that she was already thinking about what the Grays would do to her when they caught her, whether she would end up with her parents or not. But she didn’t stop.
Every step she took hurt Jamia. She was leaving behind her baby brother. She was supposed to be the big sister, the protector, the caregiver. But when Julian could be hurt, or worse, all she did was run in the other direction.