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The copper-lit sidewalk in Chinatown, Washington D.C. “You’re so fluttering stupid-- “--Dane, they’d see him, but you, you blend in with the asphalt! “I should write you a referral for jaywalking. Dane--His parents would do the right thing, sue the people in the car . . . but your parents, they’d sue me, the school. Then they’d have to plan a funeral, and I would have to do paperwork.” In the present, my raspy breaths clung to the walls of the bathroom stall, and my keening whimpers wavered in the air. Shaking, I clamped my hands over my mouth and muffled another cry. Tears poured down my face and trickled over my fingers. Scenes soaking with dread continued to materialize in my head: It was past one in the morning. There was a blanket over my head as I shuddered and folded into myself. The white blanket was supposed to be a sign of surrender. I had surrendered, but still, the words of abject loathing came and came: “So you got your little feelings hurt-- You think I want to be here, on this fieldtrip? “You’re Black, get over it.” My fingers screwed the damp hotel bedding. Nails digging into my palms brought me back to the present: A bathroom stall, in school, in Miami, in Florida. This small school that once gave me the same air of coziness as home was now a trap clouded with ever growing fear. I remembered who I--she was, before Washington D.C., before July. I called her Bianca, but she and I were not the same. I pictured her as someone smiling widely, endlessly optimistic, endlessly naive of racial hatred, and . . . Realization cracked down my mind like it was an egg. She was happy. And that was it--the equator that divided the two of us. “I--I want to be happy again.” It was a plea to myself, as if I could will just a flicker of that light inside of myself again. I had felt hollow and corroded for so long, and I didn’t know how to get back to that person. That person I was before. “This sucks.” I thought to myself, fists pulling my hair, “This sucks really, really badly.” I buried my head in my lap. “You’re all right. You’re okay.” I told myself after a couple of minutes, beginning the mantra that would calm me down enough to go to back to class. But a stubborn thought tied itself in a knot in the back of my head. I swallowed uncertainly. Truthfully, I didn’t want a band-aid for a stab wound--something to cover up the damage, only for it to bleed out again later. I wanted something more. I wanted something I hadn’t had for too long. I wanted to be me again. That stubbornness bloomed and beared fruit--determination, nutrient-rich. I clenched my fists. I had let the situation get as bad as it was. It was me who did that. It was me. I was up and out of the stall in a minute. Hearing the door slam behind me, I stared down my reflection in the mirror. It came out in a rush: “You’re not going to be sad anymore. You’re not going to be afraid anymore. You’re not going to blame who you are now on Mr. Gantt, your memories, and what happened because that gives them a power no person, no thing has over you. “You’re the only one who has the power to determine who you are and what you feel.” That truth resonated with something deep inside me; I thought it over again and again and it sent eddies of warmth through my limbs. My features softened with rising confidence, “C’mon. You’re you. You. And only you can decide who you are. ” I wasn’t going back to Old Bianca. I was going to be stronger and tougher and happier.
"Fluttering" was initially the "f" word . . . Wow, OpenStudy, I didn't even know you did that . . .