Lily laid still next to me on the ground , the sand sprayed across her face, and her eyes were plain like a glass of milk. I held back tears. If I let one out, the rest would come like a waterfall.
I crouched up, blood around my hands. This has happened before, but not like this.
There have been fights, murders, just because of people's opinions. But here laid my wife. Dead. Her white skin covered in blood.
My brown skin covered in blood. Yet there was a difference. I was alive. She was dead. Just breathe, I tell myself. Just keep breathing.
Tears soared down my cheek, as if they would do anything to reach the ground.
I wiped them away.
I shook off the thought of
More bad people coming after me and my family.
My two wonderful daughters.
Without a mother. Just because I have a different skin color doesn't mean I can't feel another's. I loved a woman and she loved me for who I was. And I didn't have to hide that. To hide under race.
I stand up. Keep breathing.
My legs wobble. And not just from weakness. From fear.
Fear of what my daughters will say when they ask “where's mommy”?
I slowly looked down, through the redness of my eyes.
At Lily, one last time. I bend down and take off her watch. Blood covered it, but I clutched it to my chest. The ocean smell was covering up more of me then the blood was. I looked behind me. The city was right behind the bay. Where we are. I look at the watch in my hand. I remember what Lily used to always say. Whether I get fired from my job or when my daughter got a C- on a test. “Time heals all wounds”.
I’m just not sure if it will heal me. Heal what I just when through.
My wife is dead, and so was I.
But I have to move on. To keep pushing forward. Lily said time heals all wounds, so maybe nows not the right time. Now, I have to heal myself. I look at Lily one last time. One last lump in my throat. I look at the watch.
1:31AM, it reads.
I Hurled the watch into the ocean.
I will move past this.
If people are mad at our separate races, let them.
We might be different, yet we are the same. I look down at my feet. My sea salt feet. Brown. Brown as they should be. I smile.
Turn around, and start walking.
“Just keep breathing.“
People's eyes are like a magnifying glass. They stare at you until they burn right through your secrets.
That's how I felt when I walked through the city.
People made way as if I had some disease, and the blood covering me didn't help.
I heard sirens wailing behind me, and screams.
I pick up the pace.
Sirens get closer.
The breeze picks up, stroking my back like a hand.
“Hey mister! “
Someone is calling my name down the alley.
He's white, and a little heavy. He’s got a crooked smile, and a weird accent. Can I trust him?
I must've looked like a mess anyway.
I'll give him a chance.
“Man mister! You sure are a fright.” The man chuckles, looks me up and down.
“Yeah,” he says. “Yeah, you'll do fine.”
Sweat begins to form on my neck.
“Look,” I say. “I don't mean any trouble.”
“That's ok,” he says.
“You'll do just fine.”
He grabs my wrist.
“You'll do just fine.”
I try to break free, but he has a grip of steel.
He throws me to the ground
And I think I hit my head on something hard.
I try to yell for help, but the alley captures my voice.
Darkness covers my head.
And something hard knocks on my skull.
I think I see something.
A girl, no… A woman.
With long brown hair, and a slight misshapen smile.
She is far away yet I can smell her scent.
The scent of the ocean.
Of sea salt.
She slowly vanishes away, and reality knocks me to the ground, literally.
I wake up, being bumped around. It looks like I’m in a car, or felt like it.
I couldn’t see anything. Darkness still covers my head.
I swear I saw that image, of Lily, but now, it feels like a dream. My ears stop ringing, and I focus on what is happening. People’s mumbling captures my attention. I hear two people, two men, who have a weird voice.
My blood boils and sweat forms on my neck. I can only hear whispers, mostly from the bag around my ears.
I freeze when I hear that last word.
Are they talking about my daughters?
Are they in danger?
All these thoughts rush through my head like a blur.
I try to move my hands, but they are tied up. I feel to my left, and my hand clasps around something sharp. I try not to make any noise, but I was in the back. They couldn’t possibly hear me. I start to cut.
The whispers get louder.
I cut faster.
I can’t see where I’m cutting, and I accidentally slice my hand. I hold back a scream, but I’m weak. After everything. I muffle out a yell, and I clench my teeth, scared of what will happen next.
The whispers stop.
The bumping around comes to a stop.
I hear movement, and the c*** of something. A gun.
The front car door slams, and there's silence.
Did they leave?
Now's my chance. I hear the snap of the bondage, and with my free hands, I pull off the bag, letting out a sigh.
“Free,” just keep breathing.
I reach for the handle to the door, but before I get there, the door slides open, and a very large man stops me.
“Where you goin’, Mister? “
He smiles with his crooked yellow teeth. I hear a click, next to my stomach.
A gun is pointed at me.
I start to sweat hard now. Don’t think your going anywhere now, he says.
“Put the gun down J,” a man says. “He's still worth some, if we could just find a sella. “
My heart pounds. “Your’e…. You’re not sending me anywhere,” I say. My eyes tear up. “Please...Let me go home.” “Oh, you're going somewhere better than that”, the man says, with that misshapen smile.
I hear something.
Just keep breathing.
I looked down at my shirt. A dark red hole stuck my shirt against my stomach. A bullet.
“Jesus, J!” The man said. “Why did you shoot him!” “My bad,” the fat man said, “I...I think I sneezed.” “You damn right you did.” “Now he's not worth anything.” My eyes were getting paler and paler. “Well, I guess we'll have to put him in the river, again.” The man rolls his eyes. “Really J, wasn't killing your daughter good enough?” The big man clenches his teeth. Then I realized why he looks so familiar. The slightly crooked teeth. It was Lily's dad. We heard sirens in the distance. The man behind J cursed. “We have to go, now!” The large man grimaced. He looked to his left. The river was roaring down into the sewer. I'm sorry Lily, the man says.
I- I'm sorry.
He and the man pick me up. I try to speak, but blood comes out. They hurl me in the river, and the icy waves catch me like daggers. The current catches me, and I look up at them one last time, as the cops surround them. The cops try to throw a raft to me, but the current was already taking me away. I tried to breathe, but the waves were silencing my voice. Where words used to form, water took its place. My vision was blacking out. I tried to reach my hands out. To grab something, and I did.
But I was still moving. I looked at what is in my hand. My heart stopped.
It was the watch.
Water filled my lungs. I'm out of time.
My throat burned, and I was beginning to see something. Someone.
She was waving at me, as if to tell me to join her, and I was on my way. I clutched the watch to my chest, as I sank to the river bed. I tried to remember my daughters voice. “Goodbye Daddy” they said. “I won't be back. I will join Lily.
The last time, I look at my feet. My sea salt feet. Brown. Brown as they should be. My body drifts away, and so do I.
I fell asleep like this. There is nothing more to it.
Just keep breathing?
I don't think so.