The Scars of Love
“Hey!” Kevin exclaimed, his charming smile dancing and his eyes gleaming. Dana’s cheeks flushed and she responded in a blushing smile. “I’m so happy to see you. This book signing couldn’t have come any faster.”
Kevin’s hand outstretched, Dana intertwined her fingers with his, together initiating the flirtations of a new romance. She tried to ignore her silent nagging fear of clammy palms as she exchanged amorous glances towards him. In tandem, they strolled along the sidewalk as the autumn leaves rustled in the wind, creating a cascade of scarlet colors trailing in the breeze. The crisp air cut through her bell-bottom jeans and white lace blouse. She hadn’t thought to bring a sweater because she was so wrapped up in trying to finish reading the most recent chapter of Kevin’s novel.
“Are you cold? Do you want my jacket?” Kevin said in response to noticing Dana’s shiver.
Dana tried to suppress a laugh but ultimately her giggle surfaced, “You know, it’s just like in your book -- that super romantic scene when the boyfriend gives his jacket to the girlfriend.”
Kevin’s eyes sparkled and chuckling he said, “I hadn’t realized you already read that part. Didn’t I just give you those pages yesterday?”
“Yeah.” Dana hesitated, realizing that the real reason she engulfed that last chapter was because she needed to know what the relationship had in store for the fictional couple; they were modeled after Dana and Kevin after all. “Honestly, I just wanted to watch their relationship blossom because it mimics ours.” Dana’s heart fluttered, grasping the concept she may have revealed too much within these early stages of dating Kevin. Heart still racing, she thought What if I just scared him off?
Kevin glanced at his watch, then back at the sidewalk ahead, the sound of threatening thunder loomed over this quaint California town. “C’mon take this” he purposefully placed his jacket on Dana’s shoulders, trying to shield her from the cold, the wind, and the imminent storm. “We better get going, the bookstore is still a few blocks away.”
Kevin’s dusty hazel eyes scanned Dana’s rich golden colored face and she smiled in acknowledgement. His arms felt the prominent autumn chill without his thick black coat, his navy blue button down and trousers left unprotected in sacrifice to Dana’s warmth. Picking up the pace, he tightened his grip on Dana’s hand and they hastened along the cement pathway passing old boutiques and cafes until they neared the bookstore.
“Kevin?” A woman wearing a floral print dress with knee-high heeled boots shouted, light auburn red hair breezing through the wind looking like a model in a professional photoshoot.
Dana skeptically looked over to Kevin who began loosening his grip on her hand. “Jess? Is that you?” He shouted from across the street. Dana tried to watch his features contort, fair skinned forehead furrowing, tousled sandy hair rustled in the breeze, one eyebrow raised while the other lowered.
Kevin’s mind raced, What do I tell Dana? Oh my god, I haven’t seen Jessica since we broke up. What if she hasn’t moved on? What if she wants to get back together?
“Who is that woman?” Dana scoffed under her breath, but Kevin managed to hear and it broke his train of anxious thoughts.
“She’s no one to worry about, just an ex.”
The fiery woman crossed through the middle of the street, cars stopping in their tracks to not only let her pass, but to watch this enchantress make her way to the fledgling couple.
“Hey Kev, long time no see.” She flashed a perfect set of pearly whites at him and batted her lengthy eyelashes. After what seemed to be an eternity, she scanned Dana from head to toe and with veiled disgust asked, “Who’s this?”
Kevin stood up straighter, took Dana by the hand, lips pursed and stated, “This just so happens to be my new girlfriend.” Dana stared at Jessica, watching her like a hawk, analyzing the horrified expression on her face. It took only moments for Jessica to make her next move.
She not-so-discretely prompted, “Kevin, can I talk to you over there? Privately.” Directing the word “privately” at Dana, Jessica glared at her until Dana responded with a small nod in Kevin’s direction. Kevin’s eyes narrowed and he began walking with Jessica a few feet ahead.
Not wanting to create any trouble, Dana leaned against the wall of a nearby record shop watching the leaves fall, acting like she was deep in thought just in case Jessica happened to look over at her. But Dana knew what this was really about, Jessica with her fair skin was clearly uncomfortable by the fact that Dana was black and dating a white man. She knew how to cope with it by now, having friends and acquaintances unable to stand the thought of an interracial couple; but Kevin, he was worth it. Just thinking back on their shared passions, lively conversations, romantic dinners, picnics; thinking back on these past few months with Kevin have brought Dana immeasurable amounts of happiness because no matter what the ethnicity, this is what love feels like.
Jessica stroked Kevin’s bare arm, stepping closer to him, only inches away from his nose and said, “Why are you dating a black woman? We both know that it’s just wrong for you to contaminate yourself with people like her. You could do so much better Kevin. You could have me…”
It took no time for Kevin to ponder Jessica’s provocative verbatim, “Jessica! Stop! It might come as a shock to you, but I have real feelings for Dana. And I broke up with you, Geez Jess you’re just so crazy sometimes. Please just leave me alone, I don’t want to talk to you ever again.” Kevin stormed off back towards Dana’s direction as he heard Jessica call out to him.
“Kevin Franklin, you’ll regret this one day, you’re making a huge mistake.”
He tried to ignore all the nay-sayers that Jessica represented, his fists clenched and he shoved them into his pockets gritting his teeth. Kevin was aware of the backlash regarding interracial relationships, but to him Dana was no different from any white girl he had dated before. When Kevin approached Dana his rage boiled over provoking him to punch a wall. His fist pounded against the brick, his knuckle concaving as he let out a cry of emotional and physical pain intertwined with indignation. In retreat, he let his knees buckle and a single tear fall down his cheek as he lowered himself to sit on the sidewalk propping his back up against the wall.
Dana dropped to the ground next to Kevin, legs outstretched and crossed over one another. Just looking at what a wreck Kevin was now, displayed how much he truly cared about Dana. She noticed this and breathed a sigh of relief; only to realize that feeling relieved was incredibly selfish considering what pain he was in. In return, she proceeded to place Kevin’s jacket around his broad shoulders, reciprocating the warmth and comfort he sacrificed to her earlier. Dana took his aching fist into her palm, and speaking directly into his fervent eyes said, “Everything is gonna be alright. Everything will be okay. Relax.”
Kevin just absorbed Dana’s honeyed voice, and after minutes of silence he cleared his throat to say, “It’s not fair.” He met her eyes and then glanced down, “You deserve so much better.”
“This is just the way life is, and as long as you still want me, I’ll still want you too.” Dana said, pausing as her eyes scanned the surrounding streets that featured a white couple carelessly laughing. She composed more of her thoughts and added, “It’s society’s problem not yours, you shouldn’t have to feel responsible--”
“But I am, I am a member of this society and it’s not right that we can’t be together without receiving so much hate.”
And filling the air were so many unspoken thoughts they shared for their future together. Hope that one day they could marry without any opposition. Hope that when they held hands walking through the street no one thought it to be scandalous. Hope that the world would not see love as a black and white situation, rather a spectrum of gray.
“Let’s get you home, we can skip the book signing today” Dana stated, reaching out to help Kevin off of the ground to rise up. Kevin fumbled around for awhile, and without asking Dana helped pull him up. His rusty hazel eyes gazed up in loving wonder at her. So as the corners of his lips crinkled upwards, he absorbed the moment to begin a compilation of one of the many adventures he planned to have with Dana, both the good and bad.
Taking hold of one another’s hands once more they walked at their own pace, fighting the constant wind of autumn, ignoring the rustling leaves, and ultimately knowing that Kevin might just be left with a scar on his knuckles because of today. But as they looked into each other’s eyes, Dana and Kevin both knew a scar wouldn’t matter. Instead they would carry it as a reminder of overcoming not only Jessica’s racism today, but all the possibilities of discrimination that follow for all the tomorrows to come.
The Scars of Love
The Scars of Love