God Don't Like Dogs

Submitted into Contest #53 in response to: Write a story that begins with someone's popsicle melting.... view prompt

0 comments

Drama Kids

My strawberry popsicle drips onto my drawing of a flamingo.


I’d slaved over it for about a week, studying and experimenting with different shapes and references until I’d finally achieved a worthy enough sketch. But the Sun god Ra and Mama obviously weren’t in the mood to see me succeed.


Since summer began, I’d spent many days inside either watching sports animes, reading, or watching blaxploitation movies. Mama had finally had enough and kicked me outside of the house with a popsicle and my sketchbook to go play at the park.


As if the park wasn’t overrun with drug addicts, graffiti, and garbage to fill the mouth of a Titan.


We—Mama, my two older brothers, and I—live in Washington Point, a place with higher violence rates than Chicago and New York City combined. At least in my opinion. Especially without Papa.


Mama sent me out of the house saying, “My daughter should not be a couch potato. Go outside!” but I decided to just sit on the stairs outside our apartment building.


Struggling to balance my sketchbook and my popsicle, which I was trying to eat as fast as possible, I hear somebody yell “Watch out!” just as another somebody yells “Hey, Obasi!”


With just enough time to react, I dodge the basketball hurtling toward my face. The basketball passes me on my right side where it hits something with a thunk. My right hand is now empty.


As if in slow motion, I watch my popsicle fall to the gray, old, gum-riddled sidewalk like a brick.


My voice rumbles slow and deep from me. “What the fuck?!”


I swivel my head sharply to where the basketball is, thinking of just putting a hole through the damn thing.


“Sorry, Obasi.”


At the sound of the sheepish voice, I turn my eyes towards a boy not much taller than me with skin as light as a peanut shell and brown hair in cornrows and gray eyes. With him is a thin girl with skin and eyes as dark as hickory and dyed-red hair slicked into a bun.


They’re brother and sister. Half-siblings. My best friends.


Nathan Berry and Tanisha Gardener. They share a father. Their mothers are constantly at odds. And they themselves have a love-hate relationship.


They reach my perch upon the stairs.


“What do you want?” I say, giving them my best resting bitch face.


Nathan seesaws back and forth on his feet while Tanisha puts both hands on her hips.


Yesterday, we had a fight on Tanisha’s 14th birthday. Nathan had already turned fourteen a month before whereas mine is all the way in October.


We had the fight at her birthday party. A basketball birthday party. Both her and Nathan are on the team.


She wanted to know why I watched all those slavery and segregation movies. I told her it wasn’t her business. Nathan decided to love her that day and sided with Tanisha. I walked out of the party, but not before taking some Popeyes fried chicken and a gift basket for all the party guests.


Yes, it was a shitty thing to do. But am I sorry? I can’t say I am. They ganged up on me and they know me well enough that I don’t take that.


The thing is though I only watch those movies so I can keep my goal for the future in mind. To remember everything white people have done to us.


But if I told them that, I’d have to tell them I’m a Ghanaian-American.


And they can’t know that.


………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….


Back to the problem at hand: We haven’t made up yet.


We’re engulfed by this tense and awkward silence that not even Thor’s hammer could break through.


Looking at their faces, I can tell that they’re both about to break. But the thing is I know I’m in the wrong. And even though I’m not really good at apologizing, I’d do it anyway.


“I’m...sorry.”


I can’t look at their faces because I feel all kinds of stupid. Even though no one can see, I feel my face getting hot.


A booming laugh and giggles fall around my ears like an ocean.


“Hey, Obasi,” my head turns towards Nathan’s pirate-like grin, “Let’s go to the corner store. I’ll buy you a new popsicle.”


Just like that everything’s good again.


………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….


We’re walking to the corner store and Tanisha and Nathan are arguing about whether Juice Wrld or XXXTentacion is better. Thing is they’re both great. But they’re also both dead.


A block before we get to the store, a red sports car—way too rich for the neighborhood—hits a big black dog in the middle of the road. The dog flies us in the air, emitting a woof, before hitting the ground with a wet thump. It drives away like the speed of light.


We quickly hurry into the street. If you’re asking whether we jaywalked...of course we did.


By the time we reach the dog, it’s breathing heavily. There’s a wound in its head allowing blood to pour out.


Nathan loves dogs, so he sits, putting the dog’s head into his lap. Even Tanisha, who hates getting her clothes dirty, takes a seat, petting the creature’s head.


I keep watch for cars because I don’t want any of us to die on this same street.


“Should we call an ambulance?” Tanisha asks, looking up at me with tears in her eyes.


I can’t look at the scene of Nathan, Tanisha, and the dog without feeling like a piece of shit. Dogs aren’t something I particularly care about. And I can’t conjure up a feeling of sorrow. I can’t explain it.


The dog’s still breathing hard. “W-We should bury it.”


Nathan and Tanisha both nod, lifting the dog in between them.


Luckily, there’s an abandoned parking lot. I motion to a spot that’s filled with dirt as well as broken bottles. I pick up the glass, cutting myself. I wipe the blood onto my gray basketball shorts.


Nathan and Tanisha lay the dog in the cleared space and say a few words too quiet for me to hear. They beckon to me to say a few words too.


Damn.


I kneel close to the dog, my knees getting soaked with the pool of blood. “So I didn’t know you long and I don’t particularly like you, but I hope you make it to dog heaven.” I give it a small kiss on its nose.


Nathan and Tanisha are both wiping tears as I approach them.


“Are you guys okay?”


Nathan dries his face completely and gives me a megawatt smile. “Yeah, I’m fine. Let’s go.”


………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….


We reach the convenience store. The store owner is an elderly Nigerian man called Issah.


“Hey, what can I do for you kids?”


“We’re getting some ice cream. Is that ok?” Nathan replies, putting on his charm.


Issah laughs, waving us forward.


Tanisha opens the ice cream fridge. “Hey, what do ya’ll want? I’m getting a haagen-dazs Chocolate Chip ice cream.”


Nathan makes a disgusted face. “Why would you get that? Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is better.”


Tanisha makes an ugly face at him and pulls out her ice cream flavor.


“Give me an Almond Ice Cream Bar.” I say, walking up to Tanisha and Nathan by the freezer.


She passes it to me just as Nathan pulls out one mango popsicle. “Obasi, we can split this, right?” he asks, holding up the mango popsicle that is actually two that can be broken apart.


“Sure.”


We pay and wave goodbye to Issah.


Standing on the corner, I rip open my Almond Ice Cream Bar and start eating the chocolate off, revealing the vanilla ice cream.


Tanisha pulls her favorite red spoon that their dad gave her out of her back pocket and eats her ice cream. In about two minutes it’s all gone and her brain is frozen.


“Really, Tanisha. You couldn’t even savor it,” Nathan says, someone who hates to eat his food fast.


“So?”


“I mean, look at Obasi. She’s still eating her’s.”


“Girl’s just eating it’s poor shell off.”


“No, she’s—”


“Wait a minute,” I say, still eating the chocolate part, “How did I get into your mess? Let me eat my ice cream in peace.”


They continue arguing. Barely anyone’s outside except for a group of boys across the street.


You can tell that some of them are higher than Jesus was when he ascended. They’re laughing loudly at something one of them with a cross necklace said. One of them with dreads keeps glancing over at us. He’s familiar, but I can’t place him. It’s as if a caterpillar came and fed on the place where my memory of him should be.


Pretty soon he crosses the street. “Hey, Nathan, Tanisha, Obasi.”


The pieces finally click. It’s Patrick Rhymes, one of Nathan’s older friends. He’s seventeen years old.


He gives Nathan dap. “Hey, y'all wanna go somewhere with me?”


I can’t lie. I’m excited to go anywhere with Patrick Rhymes. He’s my current crush. I have a new crush every year.


“Yeah, where we goin’ ?” Nathan asks just as excited as Tanisha and I.


He scratches his head as if unsure. “Well, I’m going on my shift. I need y’all with me to help me look less suspicious.”


It’s obvious that he’s going to sell crack. The cops will pick him up if he looks too suspicious just standing on street corners. Only thing is he needs the money to pay for his dad’s medical bills.


So of course I speak up and say all of us are going.


………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….


Our destination is the park near the Kenbranch High School.


As we walk towards the park, Patrick sells his stuff. To old men gossiping by McDonalds. Girls going to the movies. Adults who constantly have red-rimmed eyes, wanting the drugs they can’t rely without.


Soon we reach the Kenbranch park where Mama told me to go in the first place. The park is really just a field and basketball court with a few old swing sets, slides, benches and tables, and seesaws.


The place is packed with lots of people. Kids playing on the playground set. Couples making out on the benches. Boys playing street ball. Girls doing their hair and their nails. People selling stuff.


Patrick turns to us in all his Apollo-like glory. According to Percy Jackson, Apollo is beautiful when he’s a god. “Y’all I’mma head out. Now that we’re at the park, I’m safe enough to sell.”


“Ok, see you later,” Nathan says, turning towards the boys playing street ball.


We take our separate ways. Tanisha and I head to the girls. Older girls are doing little girls hair in all kinds of styles. Braids. Cornrows. Dreads. Twists. Bantu knots.


A little girl, who just got her hair done in long cornrows that touch the backs of her knees, runs towards us, practically tripping over her feet.


Her name is Jarya Simmons. A cute six year old girl.


“Tanisha! Obasi!” she squeals with excitement, when she reaches us. “Look at how cute my hair looks!”


Tanisha and I giggle cause her high pitched voice along with her shrieking causes her to sound like a howler monkey.


I crouch down to her level and kiss both her cheeks which is a custom we’ve been doing ever since Jarya can remember. “Yeah, you look really nice. When are you going to show your Mom?”


Her face sours slightly. “She’s at work. She won’t come back until dinner.”


Tanisha and I exchange glances.


I pick Jarya up by her feet, making her hang down. Likewise Tanisha holds her arms.


We start to swing Jarya between the both of us. She starts giggling cause she knows what’s coming next. We’ve done this a million times.


We release her and she whoops with excitement. Just as she’s flying through the air, gunshots sound and everyone in the park ducks down.


I see the gunshots hit Jarya’s body before she lands on the ground. Her body jerks in the air and blood flies like rain.


Time stops. A car drives furiously away, screeching. Screams start echoing through the air. I can’t think. It’s as if I’m Isabel from the Seeds of America trilogy with the bees buzzing in her brainpan.


My feet carry me all the way to the still body before me. Jarya’s mouth is frozen in a happy scream. Her skin is already cold. Her pulse is gone.


People’s feet start kicking up dirt as they run because pretty soon the cops will show up and they don’t want to be involved.


I hear feet run up behind me. I can tell that the two sets of footsteps are Nathan and Tanisha.


Nathan’s voice sounds broken. “W-What happened?”


Tanisha falls to the ground, tugging at Jarya’s cornrows. “Hey, baby. Wake up. It’s time to wake up.”


Her pleading continues unceasingly. It does nothing though. Jarya was my cousin. Nathan and Tanisha’s honorary kid sister.


The blood is already pooling under her. The smell of iron fills the air. Her death is worse than that big black dog’s death. Worse than Papa’s death when he was killed by a black police officer.


Not everyone gets to experience the dog days of summer.


Author's Note: So I wrote this to emphasize the fact that black people are the ones who kill ourselves. We are our own worst enemy. This story is to honor George Floyd and the many black kids who were killed this summer by black-on-black violence as well as the many black people murdered by police.

August 08, 2020 02:10

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

0 comments

RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.