I often get emotional when I walk alone

I wish I was stoned, but I wasn’t so I was forced to keep walking tirelessly. I pass a white man with brown hair, he looks like a republican that hates black people. He gives me an insulting glare to which I roll my eyes at, he stops making eye contact. God, I wish I was stoned.

I remember this one time in the third grade when this little prick called me a nigger. I told the teacher and she called the boy over. His name was Justin. The teacher was blonde with thin tightly stretched lips. She was often strict and had a reputation of sending children to the principal’s office. That day, however, she told Justin that his punishment was ‘no free time for the afternoon.’ Justin didn’t apologize, and his parents never found out. I was too ashamed to tell mine.

I really don’t want to be thinking about those memories. I just really want to be stoned. My sixty-three-year-old aunt sent me to get milk and cigarettes. “But not the cheap milk from the corner, the organic stuff,” she said. The milk that can only be bought from a mile away. I’m halfway there regretting that I never learnt how to drive while my thigh sticks to my too-tight jean shorts.

An elderly black man in a sweat stained white tee shirt is walking in my opposite direction. He looks at me but we’re too far away to nod or smile without it being awkward. We make eye contact too soon. This happens to me often. I look to the ground for what seems like a hefty amount of time. When I look up the man is two feet away and I smile and tell him to have a good morning. He smiles back and says, ‘you have a great morning young lady!’ When he passes me I turn and look at him again, I felt an urge to tell him about Justin. Fourteen years later, and I have never told anyone about Justin.

I pass a mother in her mid-thirties and her eight or nine-year-old daughter. The daughter is wearing a white dress with white knockers that proved contrast against her dark skin and hair. When I smile at them I wonder if that little girl was called a nigger. I turn to watch them walk farther away and realize that her mother must have been called a nigger. I feel like I should have told my mother about Justin, I shouldn’t have been ashamed because the chances are: my mother would have been called a nigger in at least fourteen different occasions by the time I was in third grade. I close my eyes for a moment. A part of me is glad that I did not tell my mother, it would have broken her heart; just like what thinking about that little girl being called a nigger is doing to mine.

The pain is not in the word as much as the venom that it is paired with when it is spat out between two lips. It’s not as painful as shocking. But it does hurt, it hurts so fucking much when you realize that you don’t have an insult that cuts as deep as nigger. It really fucking hurts. I really don’t want that girl to feel that pain.

I’m finally at the organic market and the air conditioning makes my sweat dry. I walk to the dairy isle. It takes me three minutes to decide which of the seven types of organic milk to buy. I end up getting the third most expensive and soy milk, just in case.

That one Bjork song starts playing from my phone and into my ears, ‘Pneumonia’. It’s bad quality but shit, it’s starting to make me cry. And I’m thinking about that little black girl. And I’m thinking about the expression on my mother’s face when she’s being called a nigger. I feel like I should stop the tears, but it feels nice to let it out. They trickle down my cheeks. I thought no one was paying attention to me but some cute white boy with a hipster beard starts staring at me, shit. He’s walking towards me now, shit. “Are you alright?” Shit.

I try to laugh and he hands me a pack of tissues from his book bag. “Bjork always seems to make me emotional.” I offer a weak smile. Shit, it’s partly true, but I couldn’t tell this obviously privileged white boy about the pain of being called a nigger.

My hand stuffs the used tissue into my too-tight pockets and give him back the package. I brush past him quickly. After a couple of deep breaths (in through your nose, out through your mouth) I am able to checkout. The cashier is a white girl with a nametag that reads, ‘Miranda.’ Just like ‘Sex in the City’ she also has red hair. My red eyes make her eyes concerned. But she doesn’t say anything except for ‘credit or debit?’

I am halfway out of the automatic door and the heat makes me sweat again. The milk forms small drips of water. I remember that I forgot my aunt’s cigarettes. I pivot back into the market and I see the hipster again. He begins to walk towards me with sympathetic eyes. I stop walking because he has blocked my way. ‘I’m Justin,’ he says. I cry even harder.

About Bleu Ruby Daniels-Taylor

Bleu Ruby is a writer and musician living in New York. She can be found on Tumblr.

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