“A million words would not bring you back, I know because I tried, neither would a million tears, I know because I cried.”
The day is dark, cold and lonely. You were my best friend, the only friend I ever made. Did they take you away from me or did you go yourself? I look at you down in that coffin and think to myself, this was their fault. You were a star meant to shine, an angel sent from God born to be different but nobody likes difference, nobody likes things they don’t understand . . .
Three months earlier . . .
My name is Viola Evans, I live in a big house atop the mountain with my parents and older brother, Austin. Most would assume my life is perfect but it’s not. See I’m adopted, I only take their last name because I don’t know my own last name. People talk, you know? Everytime I have to go to luncheons at the country club, I always hear the other white ladies talking, saying “oh believe it honey, you are in God’s good graces, you’ve done good,” or “hey there buddy, doing good there aren’t ya? Adopting a black girl to get on God’s good graces?” Sometimes I can’t believe myself, what they say. I know they only adopted me to try to get on God’s good graces. The Evans Family wasn’t exactly picture-perfect, I know they did a lot wrong when they were younger, I heard stories. Mister Evans was always doing drugs, had to go to a rehab facility for a few years to get good again. Missus Evans was always tricking young and old people into giving her their money and it worked too. Austin, I’m not sure if he’s the worst but some might say, before he became the best quarterback for the highschool he was always stealing and running away, doing drugs, starting fights, even got arrested a few times. I guess, Missus Evans’s Mama told her that to be able to get to Heaven, Missus Evans needed to do good for all her family, guess everyone in that family believed no matter what they did so long as they did one good deed they were going to Heaven. Looks like Missus did her deed, ’cause now she back on doing her tricks, Austin never stopped, only one who never went back was Mister Evans. I guess that rehab facility scared him out of doing anything bad, ever.
The Evans sent me to a private school, top of the line. Buy me the best brand clothes and when in public treat me like their princess. They want me to look like their daughter and not some rat they found on the street, despite the obvious difference. They also want me to talk good about them when their friends ask me about them. I don’t have friends, at the club or at the school. I’m the only colored at the club and one of the few rich colors who can afford to take their snot-nosed children to that school. I’m not snot-nosed like the other black kids so I don’t make friends with them and I’m not white so I don’t make friends with the white girls. Austin doesn’t acknowledge me as his “sister” which makes no difference to me.
There is only one reason, one real reason, as to why I am still in that school. God made me smart. God blessed this little girl to have a brain, a useful brain. I am at the top of all my classes and nobody likes that. I don’t have a car, I don’t want one either so I walk or ride the bus. Or at least I used to ride the bus before the Missus found out I did, she said, “we aren’t poor folk, we don’t go where they go, never ride the bus again.” She made Austin ask me if I wanted a ride, but for his sake and mine I declined. I’m not sure what she meant by we I’m not like her, she’s rich and white, she has money. No one will believe I’m rich because I’m black, they think I stole it.
Sometimes I like to walk around what should have been my home, around people like me. Only thing that separates us is my uniform, school uniform. People don’t like these school uniforms, they think rich and when they think rich, they think white. I’m not mixed, I know I had two black parents, supposedly they died in a car accident, I was at home alone and when no one came home, my neighbor saw me and took me to a shelter. I guess she knew.
I’m at home, alone. No school today, Saturday. Missus works and Mister works. Austin is out with his friends for the weekend, I’m at home ’cause I got caught. I was out in My Hood, looking for something to do when Austin saw me crossing into that part of town. He stopped right in front of me and got out of his car seething.
“Viola what are you doing here? And in that?”
I knew better than to talk back.
“I’m walking around, in my clothes.”
“Those are not your clothes, where did you get those? You shouldn’t be here, Mom will kill you!”
“Why are you here?”
I knew better than to ask questions.
“I’m not, I’m going across the freeway to hang out. I need to get you home first.”
“No, I’m fine. I’ll stay here.”
And I knew better than to refuse.
“There is no way I am allowing someone who lives in the same house as me near these poor folk, get in the car.”
He grabbed me by the arm and would’ve almost threw me in the car if not for him. . .
“Hey! What do you think you’re doing?! Let her go!”
He grabbed Austin’s hand and yanked it off, pushed him back into his car too.
“Hey man, you don’t grab a woman like that, especially not here.”
“Stay out of this, it doesn’t concern you.”
“I seen it, and I ain’t about to let you hurt this girl.”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Come on with me.”
“She’s not going with you-”
“Say it, I dare you.”
“I wasn’t going to say anything.”
This guy led me across the street to this old shop where they sold all kinds of food. I went inside with him, even though I didn’t know who he was or what his intentions were. No man or woman of color has ever stood up for me let alone talk to me. I jerked my arm away from him and stopped where I was.
“Where are you taking me? Who are you?”
“Sorry, but that guy wasn’t doing you right. He looked like he was about to hurt you.”
“Why do you care?”
“Why are you being so rude.”
I didn’t mean to be rude, but I guess the intention was in my voice.
“I didn’t mean to be rude, it’s just no one has ever helped or talked to me before.”
“Oh, mind if I ask why?”
“I’d rather not say.”
“Thanks, also, thanks for getting me out of that mess.”
“No problem, who was that guy?”
“My brother, I guess.”
“Your brother? But he was white.”
“Now you know why people don’t talk to me.”
“Ah man I’m sorry. Well, I ain’t got any friends, wanna be friends, I guess? I’m no good at this.”
“At least you have friends, but yeah.”
“Cool, so what your name?”
“Everyone call me Ash.”