High School Misgivings

High School Misgivings

A Story by Shihmai Crestwood
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A young black girl is forced to face the racial tensions of life in the south.

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High School Misgivings

As we stand on the sidewalk waiting for Karen’s boyfriend to arrive she regales me with stories of her new boyfriend Jace.

“Jace is so sweet,” she smiles. “I just wish we’d have sex already. He wants to wait until marriage. But he has no problem letting me blow him.”

Her face turns down a bit. The honking of a horn brings both our attention to a gray Ford truck pulling in. As the driver comes into view, my heart stops. That’s Jace. Oh s**t. Jace is the same Jace I had a crush on all of seventh grade. The same Jace I thought moved away when he didn’t return to our school for eighth grade. And Jace is still really cute. My skin begins to get tingly as I realize that four years later, I still have a crush on Jace.

As we pull into his country driveway, I freeze in the back seat. Standing next to his back door is a huge brown dog. A dog that’s barking like crazy. Karen looks at me in the back seat then turns to face her boyfriend.

“Can you put him away? Rachel is scared of dogs.”

Jace chuckles at me through the rearview mirror. I don’t find that thing funny at all.

“He won’t bite.” Jace gives me a crooked smile.

I almost calm down until that big a*s dog starts barking again. I shake my head no. Jace hops out the car and runs to put the dog inside the gate. He waves us forward and we exit the truck.

We enter through the kitchen. Looking around at the fancy setup makes me feel entirely out of place. Everything is so clean and shiny. So glossy that when I stand next to the huge center island, I look down and see my face staring back. Jace motions us to the spacious den to meet his brother, Nathan. Nathan smiles up at us from the long knives he’s sharpening on the couch.

We move around the wall separating the kitchen from the den and I look across to see a huge confederate flag mounted on the wall.

Oh my God. What have I gotten myself into?

I turn to see Karen and Jace walk to the back of the house.

Okay.

Nathan is still sharpening those really long knives when he says, “have a seat.”

He motions to the other end of the couch. I nervously sit down and just stare at that flag. Nathan points a remote at a big screen tv and rap music starts playing from speakers mounted beneath that flag. The look of shock must be evident on my face because Nathan just smiles at me knowingly.

“Yeah, I like Tupac.” He motions to the flag with a nod of his head. “That flag doesn’t mean I’m racist.”

His words register but they still don’t sway my wariness. The two of us end up getting into a deep conversation about racial issues. The more we talk, the more at ease I become. It has me thinking that maybe he’s not such a bad guy after all.

In the midst of our conversation Karen and Jace come from the back of the house.

“Nate, can we go four wheeling?” Karen asks as she sits on Jace’s lap.

“Yeah. Ya’ll wanna come?” Nathan looks at his brother then to me.

Jace declines and I vehemently shake my head no. Karen and Nate leave to go four wheeling and leave me and Jace alone in the house. We start up a conversation about Karen naturally. He confesses his doubts about her and I have to hold my tongue because I know all of them are true. I feel bad because he’s seems like a good guy and he has no idea his girlfriend is sleeping with his brother. Even though I have a crush on him, I won’t betray my best friend.

Karen and Nathan walk in the house followed by an older white couple whom I assume are Jace’s parents. They introduce me and Jace explains why the dog is locked inside the gate. The parents assure me he won’t bite as they let him inside the kitchen. He immediately walks up to me and sniffs around me. I hold as still as I can. Jace’s parents laugh as I look at Karen for help. She whispers to Jace and he tells his parents we’re leaving. As I make my way out the door, his dad rises up from feeding the dog.

He balls up the empty bag and thrusts it my way. “Don’t say I never gave you anything.”

Everyone bursts into laughter except Jace, Karen and I. Jace gives me an uneasy smile and ushers us through the door.

Saturday night. Karen and I are at a camp retreat held by Jace’s church. The living room of the hosts’ house is jammed pack with thirty plus teenage girls. I’m not all that comfortable being the only black girl here. I try to tamp down the uncomfortable feeling and make the best of the situation. Karen knows a few of the girls and does her best to include me in the conversations. I follow her around all night like she’s my life raft.

After settling in for the night, one of the girls informs our little group that her father’s company is hiring. When I try to get more details from her she gives me a look I can’t understand.

Without softening the blow, she looks me in the eyes and says, “he wouldn’t hire you.”

I try not to get angry and ask her calmly, “why?”

“He doesn’t hire people if he looks at the application and can’t pronounce their name. He tosses it in the trash.”

My mouth drops open in shock.

Did she just confess her father discriminates?

“Are you serious?” At this point I’m getting more pissed off and feeling more isolated.

“Yeah,” she shrugs like it’s no big deal.

She proceeds to turn over and go to sleep. I just want to go home.

Sunday morning. I decide to give this weekend another shot. The breakfast goes a long way in getting me there. The thirty teenage girls vying for two bathrooms is no fun but the morning church services lift my spirits tremendously. As the service goes on, the up all night party is starting to wear on me.

I feel myself nodding off but am jolted awake when the pastor yells out unexpectedly, “and we know O.J. did it.”

Where did that come from?

I look around and notice that I’m one of two black people in the entire congregation. I slink down in my seat and try to disappear. It doesn’t work. It seems like everyone is looking directly at me. I pray and ask God to get me out of here. If I never have to see these people again it won’t bother me one bit.

I know this is the south and somewhat to be expected. But maybe Karen isn’t the person I thought she was. Jace definitely is not the guy I had a crush on. I finally get the saying you never truly know someone. Jace may be a nice guy but the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Karen may be oblivious to the prejudice around her but you are the company you keep. There is a thin line between willful ignorance and racism. This weekend showed me where on that line their feet were planted.

 

 


© 2017 Shihmai Crestwood



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Added on November 5, 2017
Last Updated on November 5, 2017
Tags: black, white, racism, dogs, boyfriend, church, religion, south, confederate, flag

Author

Shihmai Crestwood
Shihmai Crestwood

Bossier City, LA



About
My name is Shihmai Crestwood and I have been writing and telling stories since I gained the ability to recall. Writing not only gives me purpose, it gives the characters and tales in my head somewhere.. more..

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