Trading Races

Trading Races

A Story by R J Fuller

What would we do if such a practice were possible, and inevitable?

The young man barely waited for the sliding doors to open before he hurried through and ran to the front desk. The nurse was a bit startled by his excited state. 

"I'm Cordaravius Denton," he said, gasping. "I understand my daughter was brought here. Her name is Shadrita."

"Yes, sir, Mr. Denton," the nurse replied. "She's in the isolation ward in the children's unit on the fourth floor, but you'll need to see Dr. Louis, . . . Mr. Denton. You'll need to see Dr. Louis." 

But Cordaravius wasn't listening. He ran to the elevator to go to the designated level, then he would find Shadrita from there. 

"Dr. Louis, call the main lobby, please. Dr. Louis, please, call the main lobby." 

Obviously the nurse was telling the doctor a hysterical father was heading to the children's unit, but he didn't care. The elevator rose up and as soon as it reached the fourth, Cordaravius zipped through the other people in the compartment and exited into the hallway. He looked to and fro for any hint of the children's section and in the process, saw the bespectacled young woman in the white coat making her way toward him. 

"Mr. Cordaravius Denton?" she called to him as she hurried her step. 

Cordaravius watched as she drew near to him. 

"I'm Dr. Wimelda Louis, your daughter's physician." 

"I could have guessed who you are. Where's Shadrita? How is she?"

"This way, Mr. Denton," Dr. Louis said, motioning in a particular direction. Cordaravius followed. 

"Mr. Denton, have you heard about the melanin virus?" 

Cordaravius slowed his step and looked up. 

"Oh, Lord," he said, "are you telling me that's what she has?"

"We're pretty certain that's what it is," Dr. Louis stated. "There were calls of about five children in the school who were being affected." 

"What about Zarvell? What about my son?" 

""We don't have a child by that name, so he must be okay."

They rounded the corner to a very quiet sector, eerily silent for an area that harbored children. 

Cordaravius followed as Dr. Louis led him to a door. He peered through the gapped blinds and could see a small form underneath the transparent plastic tent. 

"I want to go in there," Cordaravius said. "I want to see her."

"Mr. Denton, I can't recommend it. We don't know how contagious she is. You may come down with it as well." 

"I don't care," he said as he opened the door. "I wanna see my baby girl." 

"Then here," Dr. Louis said to him, "put this mask on so you don't catch it, and try not to touch her."

He hesitated for a bit, then put on the mask. Likewise, Dr. Louis put on her mask and followed him in. 

"Use these gloves," she said quietly to him. 

He took the gloves and drew nearer to the small waif becoming visible under the plastic tent. He hesitated for a bit. 

Shadrita. His little girl who looked like his grandmother with shiny black hair and deep brown skin and sparkling dark eyes full of wonderment and happiness. Cordaravius looked at the still form sleeping on the hospital bed, still wearing the pink kitty cat shirt and matching pink skirt she had picked out that morning to wear, which confirmed for him the identify of the little girl who now sported milky white skin with curly blonde hair and rosy pink cheeks. He quietly stared at her. 

"Is there any chance of a cure?" he asked. 

"The best experts are still trying to find one," Dr. Louis said. "We still don't know what we are dealing with."

"How did this happen?" 

"We don't know yet, Mr. Denton. Suddenly, inexplicably, people seemingly at random have just suddenly begun to change in appearance, from one definitive race to another."

Cordaravius turned to the doctor. 

"Where's my wife?" he asked. "Where's her mother?"

"She's in another isolation ward, Mr. Denton. She began showing symptoms at work."

"So if she got it and Shadrita got it, it seems very likely it came from the house where we were this morning," Cordaravius concluded. 

"We just don't know yet. Your son was checked at the school, but he's fine. The way people are affected, we haven't been able to pinpoint yet."

"Where's Andra. I want to see her."

"Allright, Mr. Denton. This way." 

"Wait a minute," Cordaravius said. 

"Mr. Denton, you can't!" 

"She's my baby, Doctor," and with that, Cordaravius slowly lifted the plastic and leaned in to the sleeping little girl and gently kissed her on the forehead. The little girl stirred and turned to look at him with her big blue eyes. 

"Daddy," she said quietly. 

"Hey, baby," he said back to her. 

"Take me home." 

"In a minute, baby. I have to go find your mother. You just rest for now." 

Slowly he leaned back out from underneath the plastic tent as the little girl rolled over and nodded off once more. 

"Mr. Denton, we might need to have you checked immediately," Dr. Louis said, stepping back and securing the mask over her face. 

"Why is she so tired?" 

"The altering of the system," Dr. Louis answered. "It takes a lot out of the person until they can adjust, but we need to . . . "

"I want to see Andra," Cordaravius said. "Take me to her."

Dr. Louis kept her distance from Cordaravius as he followed her down another hall, to another location. Quietly he walked up to yet another closed room with the soft hum of machinery the only sound to be heard. 

"I want to see her." 

"Mr. Denton, after getting so close to your daughter, I can't recommend you do the same here," but Cordaravius had already opened the door to enter. Once again, he netered with unease. 

Dr. Louis approached the doorway as he entered further into the room. 

"Mr. Denton," she said, silently but sternly, "please put the mask on," but Cordaravius was suddenly the invulnerable protector of his wife and child. Nothing could harm him. Once again, he crept up to the bed to view Andra, his beautiful bride and mother of his children, and peered through the plastic tent to see the features of an Asian woman resting in the bed. He stepped back. 

"She's turned Japanese?" he asked, turning to the doctor. 

""She's become Asian in appearance," the doctor replied. 

"My God," Cordaravius stood and looked up. "I've got a white daughter and an Asian wife. My beautiful family is no longer what we used to be." 

"The longest someone has gone thus far in changing has been four-and-a-half months." 

Cordaravius turned to her. 

"Then what?" he asked. "They change back?" 

"Some have altered to another race," she answered. "So far, no one has returned to their original appearance. I think a white man who turned Asian had his hair become red, whereas as a white person, he had light brown hair. He's being observed still, but there's no sign of any cure, so I really do wish you would put on the mask, Mr. Denton." 

Cordaravius wasn't listening. He walked out of the room, this time without even bothering to kiss Andra good-bye. Why upset her? Why bother waking her up to upset her? He made his way down the hall, looking for an elevator to take him down to the lobby so he could sit in the car then decide what to do next. He entered the lfit to stand next to an elderly black man who seemed just as despondent as he was. The doors closed and for a moment, they stood side-by-side in silence. Finally the old man spoke. 

"My dear God," he muttered. 

Cordaravius gave with a heavy sigh. 

"What will become of us?" the old man seemed to ask no one in particular. 

"You talking about the pigment virus?" Cordaravius asked him. 

"My family," the old man said, turning to Cordaravius with fear in his eyes. "My son. What are we going to do?"

Cordaravius looked back at him. 

"My . . . . daughter," he began, "my baby girl, . . . . she's turned white, with blue eyes and blonde hair." He took a deep breath. "And my beautiful wife has turned Japanese. I'm ashamed to admit I couldn't even kiss her good-by when I left her hospital room." 

The old man looked at Cordaravius for a moment, then replied, "I was a white man this morning. I was white." 

The doors opened and Cordaravius looked at the man for a moment, then slowly walked out of the lift and gradually made his way to the door. He stepped aside for a stretcher being rolled in with two orderlies on either side, a crying black child reclining on the mattress. A nurse followed with a white woman in a wheelchair, the woman being as upset as the child. 

"My baby!" she cried. "My little Frederico!" 

Cordaravius stood for a bit. A white mother, a black child with a Latino name? He wondered which was the original race. 

He walked outside to hear a scream in the parking lot, but he didn't stop walking. He needed to leave. Maybe see if Zarvell was still okay. It was just so draining to see this happening to his family. 

Cordaravius got in the car, looked at the phone about to call, then set it aside and put his hand to his forehead. He leaned back and wanted to scream, but was concerned he might wake up andra and Shadrita. They needed to rest. He sat up again and picked up the phone as if to call someone once more and saw his reflection in the flat surface. Quickly, he put the phone down, hung his head and closed his eyes. He actually hust have nodded off, as it seemed to be later when he finally looked up again. He had to go see about Zarvell. School wouldn't be out for about another hour. Nobody had tried to call, so Zarvell must be okay. Why was his head hurting so badly? 

Then he remembered. He watched an ambulance pull in, followed by hysterical people getting out of a car and running after the patient carried from the previous vehicle. What did he want to do? 

Cordaravius reached up to touch the side of his head and felt hair he did not have; it was now smooth hair. Straight and smooth, but not dry and wispy, like the white people hair. He took a deep breath and brought his hand up to straighten the rear view mirror so he could see his face, but another hand was raised to the mirror; a much lighter hand than his dark brown complexion. 

Cordaravius looked at the hand a bit, straightened the fingers up to view the faint scar, now even more faint, on the knuckle of his index finger. It was his hand. With absolute caution, he lowered the hand to examine the face that would be looking back at him from the mirror. No rush. The image won't be going anywhere soon. 

He looked at the features, the much lighter complexion, but still a countenance of social scruitny. How high the cheekbones seemed to be now. He turned to one side and the steely eyes in the reflection continued to observe him. He faced forward again and was astonished by the bridge on the nose. He thought rush hour evening traffic could use that bridge, then reached his scarred finger up to touch the tip of the nose. It was his nose. 

Cordaravius was a tribal native of the land. An Indian. Well, he didn't want to use that term, but that's what he was. He had no clue what distinction this face was supposed to have; this face with African-American blood contained within. How could he go see Zarvell like this? Well, Dr. Louis wanted him to wear the mask, but he wouldn't. 

A Native-American. An American-Indian. So many titles. He wished they had all changed to the same race. Why didn't they? He looked at himself in the mirror once more and pondered how he had gone from a man who was torn from his heritage to a man who had his heritage torn from him. Or was it actually the other way around? 

Cordaravius looked around the parking lot. People were upset. Screams. In the distance, he saw a white man screaming at some black people, or maybe that guy had been black, too. he covered his eyes with his hands again and took a deep breath. He couldn't think about calling his parents. What would he tell them? he took his hands down and looked at the Indian again. The injun. You're an injun, he thought to himself. There was so much misunderstanding between each other nowadays. 

Well, he couldn't leave his wife and daugther. And since had had changed, Cordaravius decided he might as well head back inside and get checked out. He exited the vehicle and began crossing the parking lot. He couldn't think of who he was, what he was doing. He was someone else to everyone else. He wasn't who he was supposed to be. 

Cordaravius had just reached the sidewalk when in the faint distance, he heard the yelling man again. A woman screamed from the same direction. He turned to see what was happening to see the man was brandishing a gun and an officer was nearby. Cordaravius continued to the entrance, but it all happened so quick. 

He wasn't sure which way the bullet came from. It seemed the white man had his back to him, so did that mean the policeman shot him? 

Cordaravius went down. His hands came out to stop him, but he gradually lowered himself to the pavement. He heard the voices mulling about him. He wondered if the policeman apprehended the white guy? He didn't know. 

"Hang on, fella! Help is on the way!" 

Gunned down, like the Native American seeking to retrieve the territory from the white man. Shot on a public arena as too many black men are done. That bullet hurt! 

He was put on a stretcher and was rolled into the building. He looked up at the bright sky before the roof concealed it from his view. The sky was so blue. As blue as Shadrita's big round eyes. 

Underneath the oxygen mask one of the paramedics had put over his nose and mouth, Cordaravius smiled, thinking about Shadrita, and slowly, a single droplet of water gave way at the corner of his own eye and rolled down his cheek. 

"You're going to be okay, buddy. You're doing fine!" 

There had been a video of many decades ago, he thought to himself, of a Native American observing pollution upon the land. He recalled seeing the video once and how it ended with the Indian crying. Crying for the land. Crying for the people. 

Cordaravius closed his eyes and recalled something about the Indian not being a real Indian at all, but actually an Italian American. Why was he still conscious if he was shot? He decided his injury must not be so life-threatening. 

An Indian who wasn't an Indian crying for the people. Cordaravius blinked as he related to the idea.  All of them, whether they changed or not. 

This was who they were. This was who they will be. 

© 2021 R J Fuller

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Added on July 22, 2021
Last Updated on July 22, 2021
Tags: race, virus, change, black, white, Native American Indian, Asian American, hospital