Violet and three of her closest Prohibited were ready to exit the house. Delilah and the others had already left for their jobs. Some Prohibited worked, and some continued daily phone calls, emails, press releases, and gatherings preparation. Unlike all other Prohibited, Violet could go it alone any time she wanted or needed to. However, she had a strong desire to remain with others only as a precautionary measure, not for herself, but for them. She did not take her abilities for granted. At times, she felt guilty that she could have quiet moments by herself, which others did not have. So, she remained with her kind every chance she could.
“Okay, everybody ready?” Violet said to the others as she grabbed her bag and flung it over her shoulder.
“Ready.” Replied Caroline, one of the three Prohibited, traveling with Violet to the Senator’s office. Everyone had their belongings in hand as Violet reached for the door handle and opened it to expose the warm, bright sunlight and the screams and cardboard signs of protesting Normals.
The crowd of people outside their home were like crazed animals as Violet, and the group approached their car. The Normal’s faces contorted and discolored by rage and anger peered at the group. The voices rasped loudly with vile words meant to hurt them. These protests were a daily occurrence and sadly didn’t faze any of the Prohibited in the least. Any rational person would know better than to perpetuate this kind of hate. Astonishingly, there were so many people standing and justifying this kind of detestation. It had always baffled the Prohibited that a child would know better than to participate in this type of hatred, but adults took a bite of this poisonous apple regularly. It was appalling yet consistent.
As they walked to the car, they simply ignored the yelling and screams of the death wished upon them. They walked past the signs that read Death to all Prohibited, Prohibited are Unnatural, Contain the Prohibited, Away with Prohibited, and so on. Yet, Violet and the others didn’t even acknowledge their existence. This was all parse and parcel to their days.
Violet got in the driver’s seat and turned on the car. She began to reverse out of the driveway as the Normals spit and hit at the car. The passengers in the vehicle showed no sign of fear or even irritation. Let the Normals do what they feel they need to do was their belief. The Prohibited were together and not in any danger. All they felt was sadness for the Normals, who deemed this to be their duty to humanity—such a sad state of being.
Violet began to drive towards downtown. The morning traffic had ceased, and it was a comfortable ride. As they passed other Prohibited riding in vehicles or walking down streets, they would wave and smile in a friendly acknowledgment of their existence. It was always a pleasant surprise when a Normal would initiate the same. Normals giving them a smile, wave, or a thumbs-up was happening a little more as time went on. This small gesture by Normals filled the hearts of many Prohibited.
Caroline adjusted the radio station as they drove along. Violet had met with Senator Jenkins many times before, and although he projected a desire to accept The Prohibited, she knew it was mostly for show. Between his brother and mother being sympathizers and the Prohibited showing a stronger voter count each year, she believed his heart was softening a bit but for the wrong reason.
He still wouldn’t look her directly in the eyes, which was an off-putting behavior for a politician. He would look at the bridge of her nose or one of her cheeks. She fought back the urge to laugh when he did this because she didn’t want to seem disrespectful. He tried secretly to use his mini bottle hand sanitizer every time he shook her hand. It was as if she was diseased, and he wasn’t going to take any chances. What she wanted to tell him was not to worry. That being Prohibited was not contagious, and he had nothing to fear. But she let it go and just hoped that each time she met with him, it would soften his heart a little more.
They pulled into the parking lot of the building, and they exited the car. Violet and the others began walking through the parking lot and towards the stairs of the State Capital. People hurried past them, some protecting their children by grabbing their hands and rushing to the other side of the lot. Hushed whispers could be heard as the group passed. As Violet’s foot touched the first step, she heard a voice yell out, “Excuse Me.”
A woman was trying to get their attention. Violet and the group turned to face her. They weren’t sure what her intent was going to be. Violet prepared for a possible wave of protection. The woman reached the group and extended her hand to Violet. “I’m so sorry to bother you. I just wanted to shake your hands and tell you that you’re all doing a great job. My niece is a Prohibited, and I have come to respect your kind.” The woman began shaking their hands.
“Thank you.” They each responded as they shook her hand.
“I’ll be at the gathering with my niece and her parents later today. I hope I’ll see you there.” The woman smiled.
“Yes, we’ll be there. Thank you so much, Ma’am.” Violet said with a smile. The woman walked away. Prohibited were used to the Normals who protested them, spit at them, shouted at them attempting to entice fear. But they had yet to get used to Normals who openly approached them and gave welcoming approval. This was not their comfort zone with Normals. It was happening more and more, and they consciously began to accept being accepted.
They continued up the stairs and into the building. The Senator’s office was on the sixth floor, so they made their way to the elevators as people avoided making eye contact with them. They stood near a group of people who were all waiting for the elevators. The elevator button lit up as the doors opened. The group of people made their way into the elevator. The Prohibited didn’t enter. They knew better. The mocking and angry stares that befell them were usual, and therefore they pushed the button after the elevator doors closed.
An elevator door began to open behind them; they turned and entered as more people approached and waited for another elevator as the doors slowly closed between the Prohibited and the Normals. No one spoke as the elevator buttons lit up while they advanced to the upper floors. The doors opened to the sixth floor; they exited as parents waiting for the elevator shielded their children. This was precisely why progress for their cause had been slow. Fear was passed down from generation to generation, and fear was a formidable opponent to conquer.
The Prohibited were told to take seats as the receptionist notified Senator Jenkins of their arrival. Violet imagined the Senator behind the large wooden doors taking a shot of scotch as he built up the courage to face them. Violet giggled. It was so ridiculous to her that anyone would fear them. They were such a peaceful people; it didn’t make sense to her. As she sat, her fingers tapped the large and full leather portfolio laid on her lap. The doors opened, and Senator Jenkins walked out to welcome his guest with a smile. His stare focused again on the bridge of their noses. Violet smiled.
“Welcome, everyone.” He said as he shook each of their hands and motioned for them to enter his office. He walked behind them. Violet fought the urge to glance back at Senator Jenkins, but she lost the battle. She peered to the side to see the Senator quickly whip out a small bottle of hand sanitizer and squeeze some out into his hand, and immediately place it back into his suit pocket. As he vigorously rubbed his hands together, Violet turned her gaze around to the office. She silently laughed. It was utter nonsense, she thought. They all sat in the chairs in front of the Senator’s desk. Violet, with her portfolio, and the Senator with germ-free hands.
“Thank you for coming.” Senator Jenkins began. “We don’t have much time, so I’d like to get to the matters at hand.” The Prohibited sat in silence. “From the numbers I have, we’re looking at around eight hundred thousand registered Prohibited, and that number is growing at exponential rates each year. It’s important to gain the trust of your kind. Violet, you’re a huge factor in getting these votes, and so far, you’ve done a great job. Looking at the polls, we project we should receive the majority of those votes. With that said, we’ve met many times, and you’ve made it very clear what you’re seeking towards Prohibited’s rights. I”m in 100% agreement. My opponents have made it clear that Prohibited are not on their agenda. So, I need you to understand that getting your people protection and gaining equal rights has been and will continue to be an uphill fight.” Senator Jenkins said as he concentrated on her right cheek.
Violet nodded. “I fully understand Senator Jenkins. Believe me; no one understands that more than we do. Now, with that said, I do need you to keep pushing for legislation requiring independent investigations into any arrest and criminal charges, disappearances, or suspicious deaths of Prohibited. This is the most important matter at hand. We sent you the draft. Did you get a chance to look at it?”
Senator Jenkins looked down at the papers in front of him. “I have it right here. I read it, and I believe there are a few changes we need to make, but they are minor. I’ll make those changes and send it back for your approval. I don’t think there should be an issue with them. Once I have your approval, I’ll submit it to Congress. I believe we would have enough votes to get it passed, but barely, so I can’t make any promises. You know I’ll do my best.”
Violet smiled. “I know you will. I have full faith that you, along with the other sympathizers now in Congress, will do what’s right. I have no doubt. I just want to remind you that my father was taken twenty-two years ago and hasn’t been seen since. We know you’re familiar with the Intruders and Xavier. He is the person that took my father, and no government agency will look into it. Senator Jenkins, I know my father is still alive. I can feel it, and I need justice for him and for all other Prohibited who have suffered the same fate or worse. This is extremely personal for me, as I’m sure you can understand. If this were your loved one, I believe you would do everything possible to find out what happened to them.” Violet said confidently.
The Senator immediately shook his head in acknowledgment. “I completely understand, Violet. And I vow to you that I’ll do everything in my power to get this passed. I can’t even imagine what your kind goes through. I truly empathize with you. As far as I’m concerned, the lack of investigations that are common to your kind is appalling and inhumane. I promise that other sympathizers and I in Congress will do everything we can.”
“Thank you, Senator. It means more to me than you’ll ever know.” Violet opened the portfolio and pulled out a large stack of papers. She handed them to Senator Jenkins. “However, there is one more thing. We drew up this petition, which would make the banning of Prohibited criminal, as it is unconstitutional, and we would like it submitted.”
“As you can see by the signatures, the majority of Prohibited registered voters as well as sympathizers, have signed. This should be more than enough to get this into Congress.” Violet sat back in her chair, awaiting the Senator’s reaction.
Senator Jenkins began to read through it. As he turned the pages filled with signatures, he remained stoic, and Violet could not make out what his reaction would be. Senator Jenkins quickly finished thumbing through the pages. He looked up at Violet and finally made eye contact for the first time. “Well, this is impressive. I must say a lot of work went into this one. However, you know, and I know that this will be close to impossible to pass.”
Violet scanned the Senator’s eyes. This close connection was rare, so she studied them. “I’m fully aware of how difficult this will be. However, banning Prohibited is unconstitutional, and we must fight for our rights, Senator. Our American history shows that the banning of Prohibited will have to end sooner or later. I prefer it sooner. Don’t you?” Violet smiled.
Senator Jenkins sat back in his chair and pondered. Although he was new to the Prohibited world, he understood how vital acceptance was to their kind, despite his fear of them. Their numbers were growing, and Violet was right. There would come a day when Normals would have to fully accept them into society, whether they liked it or not, and most did not. However, Violet and her kind were determined. He knew that eventually, he needed to be a leader in their cause or pay the price with his career. He recognized that not only were the Prohibited going to impact the votes, but sympathizer’s numbers were growing at a rapid rate, and their votes would be the same.
For every Prohibited, at least one or more sympathizers were supporting them, if not more. Their numbers were becoming great. However, they were still the minority. It was a pivotal time in their history, and he needed to be wise whether he liked it or not. Prohibited had been such a non-issue before they were given the right to vote. They had been a non-issue for years after because many Prohibited were still afraid to register. But now, they had banned together and were becoming a force unto his world. He could no longer ignore it.
Yet, this petition to remove any ban or discrimination from businesses, transportation, venues, etc. would personally affect him. He wasn’t sure he was prepared to move forward with the petition. He looked Violet in her eyes again. This was a surprise to Violet. He had never directly looked her in the eyes before, and now he had done it twice.
“I do agree, Violet.” Senator Jenkins leaned forward in his chair with his hands grasping each other. “I have some ideas. Luckily for you, the sympathizers in Congress are bulldogs, and they aren’t deterred from your cause. You do have some powerful allies, and you’re gaining those in numbers. I think this is a pivotal time for your kind. Let me make some calls and see what I can do. Again, I don’t promise anything, Violet, but I’ll submit it if I think we have a chance. You have more than the required amount of signatures, but I think we need to be smart and move forward only if it’s a possibility that we can get the votes. Understood?” Senator Jenkins was looking Violet straight in the eyes. This was a very good sign.
“Understood.” Violet responded. “Thank you, Senator.” Violet gave him another warm smile as a reward for his eye contact.
Senator Jenkins nodded in approval. “So, you have a gathering today, right? How do the numbers look?” Such a political question.
“They look great. We were able to receive the permit for the gathering last week. Everyone’s been notified, and from what I hear, this might be the largest number of sympathizers we’ve ever seen at a gathering. We’re very excited.”
“That’s great. Do me a favor, though, please.”
“Sure.” Violet replied.
“Don’t mention this petition. I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up. You can state our position on the motion for independent investigations since that’s already public. But, I don’t want to make any public moves on this petition until I know where we stand.”
“No problem. All I will say is that we’re committed to moving forward with our cause. How does that sound?”
“That sounds great.” Senator Jenkins stood up from his chair as the Prohibited took the cue and did the same.
“Will you be attending the gathering, Senator?” Caroline asked.
“Unfortunately, no. I have meetings most of the day, and with this new petition, I have a lot on my plate. But I’m sure you and your group will make amazing strides today.” Senator Jenkins began motioning towards the door.
The Prohibited all made their way out of the office, followed by the Senator. “Oh, one last thing Senator.” Violet turned back to face the Senator. “I would really like to take my mother out to dinner this evening. Is there any chance you could get approval for my mother and me to have dinner at Cameron’s tonight?” Violet knew this was unexpected and going to be met with hesitation.
Senator Jenkins, as expected, hesitated. He looked around the room at the faces waiting for his reaction. This was a moment where he needed to walk the walk instead of talking the talk. He looked at the receptionist, who had immediately looked up when the request was made. The Senator’s family-owned many companies, including restaurants, one of which was Cameron’s.
His brother and mother had been appealing for years for the ban to be removed from all of their facilities. Yet, the board of directors had not budged. For years, his brother had snuck in Prohibited, and at first, was chastised and threatened by his own family. But the more he had done this, the more the family had accepted a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. The tides had been turning within his family’s companies, but they were nowhere near ready to become a full fixture in the world of Prohibited and the backlash it would cause.
“I’ll tell you what. Let me see what I can do, and I’ll text you later today if that’s okay. I’m sorry, but that’s the best I can do right now.” Senator Jenkins reached his hand out to shake Violet’s hand.
“Fair enough, Senator. I know you’ll try your best. I really do appreciate it.” Violet shook the Senator’s hand.
The Senator shook everyone’s hand, said his goodbye’s, and slowly headed towards his office. Violet began to walk out. She stopped and turned to look back at the Senator to see that he did not reach for the hidden hand sanitizer. She looked at the receptionist, who gave her a smile that made Violet feel as if she understood what was happening at this moment. It was another small step towards acceptance. Acceptance of a Prohibited was priceless.