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American African American People of Color

This farmland is stationed in the middle ground between data and deduction, between thought and action, it lies at the summit of man's anatomy and the pit of his understanding. You are traveling into another dimension, not one located in a distant galaxy but rather nested at the base of every human experience. It is a region of analysis and interpretation. Journey not into the abyss of space and stars but into an imaginative exploration of our humanity.


You are about to meet two farmers. Opolo and Cervell. They sow seeds, till the ground, and produce fruit unlike any apple you've tasted. Their land spreads out in grooves and pits beyond what the eye can see. Two farmers soon to be presented with a single seed. How they choose to cultivate it will determine the survival or destruction of more than just their land.


The oblong seed came through the portal with a burst of light in the manner in which all seeds did. Cervell was still bent over the last pip, encoding its contents into the spongy surface of the field when he noticed the light. Opolo was already rushing towards it, eager to claim it as its own. Yet both farmers were well trained in the established protocols of the regions and tempered their enthusiasm by placing the seed atop of the pedestal-like structure that pierced light into the seed revealing its figures.


The images danced within the capsule in vivid details showcasing what the optic department had gathered. Opolo and Cervell watched intently as the scene revealed itself for them. The boy and his father sat on uncomfortable wooden stools in the rundown corner store. The baseball game played out on the small television set that sat on the faded and sticky yellow counter. The boy, whose feet did not yet reach the lower footrest, and whose young attention span could not be kept by flashes of flags and high pitch singing, entertained himself by rocking his chair side to side thrilled by the possibility of falling.


His father, who sat beside him, pressed his finger into the boy's thigh indenting his skin slightly with his nail, causing all movements to seize. His father's gaze trailed over to the glass door as the small silver bells that hung from it jingled weakly. Through the threshold entered a Black teenage boy dressed in a black sweater and blue jeans. The boy at the stool sat quietly, glancing up towards his father's face that now bore a grimace the young boy did not yet recognize. Looking back towards the new patron the boy noticed a hint of red poking out of the boy's sweater pocket. It was far too small for anyone other than a child growing up among candy wrappers to noticed.


The teen walked through the aisles making careful selections as the boy's father paced back and forth at the front of the store. Finally satisfied, the Black boy approached the counter placing a bag of chips, a grape soda, and two chocolate bars on the counter. The boy's father, whose grimace had now morphed into an uncomfortable mixture of anger and disgust eyed the items without saying a word. The teen, who now stood directly next to the young boy, reached into his jeans pocket and retrieved a crumpled five dollar bill and held it out for the boy's father.


Tapping his index finger on the counter the man indicated for the money to be placed down rather than handed directly to him. The Black boy not quite understanding the reasoning placed the money as he began to gather his now purchased items. He placed the candy bars in his sweater's pocket and held his soda with the same hand that now interlaced its fingers around the bag of chips. Extending his right hand towards the man the Black boy looked up absentmindedly awaiting a return.


"What?" the father asked sternly.


"I need a dollar back." the Black boy responded.


"No. You owe me five dollars. That's what you gave me five dollars."


"No, I only got four things. The chips, the soda, and the two bars. That's four dollars, I gave you five, you owe me one."


The young boy at the stool, whose heart had begun to race though he did not quite understand why, knew enough about simple math to agree with the Black boy though he dared not speak.


"What about the Skittles?"


"What Skittles?"


The boy at the stool immediately glanced at that Black boy's pocket remembering the hint of red he had seen.


"The Skittles you're trying to steal."


"Man, I came in with these. I didn't get these from you."


"Yeah right, well you got them from someone you're going to pay for them."


"Man, stop playing with me. Give me my change!"


The insulted boy demanded, reaching towards the register to press random buttons he thought might open the cash drawer. With a crooked smile that suggested this was what the man had been waiting for he leapt into action. Jumping over the counter briskly. Attacking the young Black boy without mercy. Yelling racial profanities as he pinned the teen on the ground demanding that his son call the police which he eventually did once he was able to get his feet to move.


Now the two white male cops were in the small space at the front of the store with a growing crowd of spectators gathering outside. The man and the teenager interrupted each other as they both yelled their version of the story. One however was able to do so with both his hands free. The young boy which had returned to his place atop the stool dug his finger nails into his thighs trying to keep his nerves from pouring out all over the scene.


One of the police offers approached him gently. Picking him up and sitting him down on the worn out counter so as to be at eye level with the boy. Roughing up the curls of light brown hair on his head the cop closed in on the boy, lowered his voice, and asked.


"What did you see, son?"


This is was the precise moment the flare of light had illuminated the region Opolo and Cervell managed. The images inside the pulsating seed culminated there, as did most seeds, with two clearly defined choices and one looming decision.


Opolo grabbed the seed and began to cross over the chasm that separated his field from Cervell.


"Why do you assume it should be planted in your region?"


Opolo turned around in genuine confusion over Cervell's question.


"What do you mean? It's obvious. Do you really think that this one requires debate?"


"Of course it does." Cervell answered, approaching the divide. "You can't just take it."


"But the right choice is clear. We both saw him notice the red wrapper when the boy walked in. He knows the truth."


"The truth is not worth more than his father."


"What are you saying? Of course it is. The truth is more valuable than anything."


"For once, Opolo, don't be so simple. You cannot reduce every moment to the here and now. This one decision can have a lifetime impact. His father is making a false claim, a claim that can end up getting him arrested, an arrest that Cravon will be blamed for. Think about what his father will do to him. Look at what he has already done to this other boy. If Cravon sides against him, he will beat him. And what's worst, Cravon will blame himself for all of it."


"What kind of character are you building? Of course this will have lifetime implications, even the more reason why I should take, why we should make mark him as a person that does what is right even when it is difficult. If he is made complicit in this act you will set him on a course of destruction. This singular choice, this decision to willing omit or flat out fabricate a lie will mark him. It will curve his will towards what is convenient, towards what is wrong."


"I am not senseless, Opolo. Of course I know it is wrong but the alternative is worst. This will be a simple guilt, a momentary lapse of judgement. One that he will feel shame for but can eventually surpass. What you are suggesting is for him to turn his back on a man that has proven himself to be careless and violent and unfortunately in control. We can't dictate what his father will do next, but we can protect Cravon from what we both know could be worst than guilt."


"Guilt easily disregarded. He'll carry it around long after this moment. Rendering him useless to himself, imprisoning him in his own cowardice."


"You don't have to make a hero out of him every time. What good did it do him when he stood up to that boy behind the apartment building? He hasn't recovered from your little spur of bravery."


"What good did it do him to lie to his mother about the vase?"


Drawing Opolo's attention to the seed he cradled in his grip, Cervell noted, "It is crystallizing. We must plant it before it cements above ground and he begins to grow accustomed to not thinking."


"You're wrong on this one, Cervell. We have disagreed on countless incidents, perhaps disagreeing is our only purpose. But up until this moment, every decision, every call we've made has only hurt or benefited us in the end. This is the first time we have to decide on the fate of another. This is how we build his character."


Looking across the vast expanse of ridges and grooves that surrounded them Cervell steadied his hands, "You may be right, Opolo, but in the end self-preservation will outlive character." And with this Cervell leaped towards Opolo, limbs outstretched towards the seed.


Wincing backwards Opolo fell backward on his side of the chasm as the seed rolled into the abyss, out of the reach of both farmers.


Years passed since the incident. The seed took root in the dark, isolated recess of the boy's mind. Without proper cultivation it grew as do most weeds, wild and rampant. Opolo and Cervel noticed when the first leaves began to pierce through the opening, but being so far from its roots all they could attempt to do was trim the portions of the plant within their grasp. Eventually the tree grew beyond their reach spreading above both fields, shrouding the land in perpetual shadows to the detriment of both lands.


One day, the tree that grew from the depths of Cravon's mind began to bear a single fruit. This was not unusual, for larger trees did this all the time, especially one this size. Yet, what was interesting was the size and orientation of this one. Most fruits were perfectly round with a steady core that pulsated in predictive intervals like rhythmic drums. This fruit however was oddly shaped, with dips along its edges that gave it a deformed appearance as though the tree itself rejected it. Opolo and Cervell observed it as it grew larger and larger containing within itself images that concerned both farmers. Images that they could no longer argue about, or decide upon, for the fruit grew all on it's own.


One fateful February evening, while the scores of a baseball game blared from a car radio, the fruit began to tremble. Its core, with its irregular beating, began to spin wildly. Opolo and Cervell stared in horror as the fruit, no longer able to contain its seed burst open, pouring out its content on the blood stained ground like a spilled bags of Skittles. Destroying Cravon and a different, yet very similar innocent Black teenager.


Farmlands. Allocated spaces designated for the cultivation of things edible and things suggested. Some are emerald fields that stretch out across vast distances bearing exotic fruits and alluring vegetables. Most are tucked away nearby, beyond what the naked can eye can see and yet what is detectable to the senses. Forever growing and expanding, bringing to life actions that can create and destroy, in a region, a farmland known as the human mind. 

April 02, 2022 03:50

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1 comment

Tasha Tolson
16:40 Apr 08, 2022

Wow! I am seriously blown away by this story. This is a very powerful work of art. Excellent writing! 1. I was so intrigued, I did not want the story to end. 2. It made me really think about the times in life when arguing with myself on the correct choice to make during a tough decision. I think this might be my favorite story out of the large amount of stories on here, I have read. Fantastic job!

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