“Heavenly Father, I pray that no one in this restaurant gets Covid. I pray that no one gets Covid from me. I believe me winning my battle and walking and breathing right now is a sign of good health and fortune for me and everyone. Amen” prayed Rhonda
“Amen. But you didn’t have to bring up Covid, Rhonda. People are looking at us strange now.” responded Jharell.
“Let them look Jharell. I am exhibiting no signs of Covid. All is well.” assured Rhonda.
Jharell bore a sheepish look on his face as he turned his head to the stares of Monte, Damian, and Jaydah at the other table. Monte’s backward lean and agape mouth completed a disposition of shock and disgust. Jaydah’s raised eyebrows and tilted head conveyed a simple state of astonishment. Lastly, Damian’s light, bright smile communicated that he was interestingly amused by what was going on. Jharell looked back at his food.
Monte blinked his eyes and turned to Jaydah and Damian; his jaw still hanging down to the base of his neck. “I can’t believe what I just heard.” He said. “The nerve of her” Monte said loudly, darting his eyes to the side toward Jharell and Rhonda in hopes they heard him. But Jharell and Rhonda ate unfazed. He looked back at Jaydah and Damian with a now closed mouth. “Look at them eating without a care in the world; eating like they are not putting anyone’s life in jeopardy.” Monte stated loudly.
“Good food can do that,” remarked Damian. Monte glared at Damian. Damian smiled back at Monte.
“Word, they are digging in,” Jaydah remarked as Rhonda forked an huge amount of salmon and salad into her mouth.
“That forkful does make everything clear,” Monte noted “She didn’t give that fork a break why would she even think to give us a break” Monte joked. Jaydah laughed. Damian scoffed and looked away.
Monte looked at Damian. “What?” He asked Damian. Damian looked back at Monte and noticed Jaydah mouth “Don’t” in the corner of his eye.
“Nothing, Dad” Damian responded neutrally with slightly drooped shoulders. “It was just a response I had to this thought of my girlfriend,”
“Is everything okay,” Monte asked.
“I am sure it will be fine,” Damian responded looking out the side of his eye to Jaydah who was beaming.
“I am definitely sure it will be, big brother,” Jaydah assured emphatically. Damian rolled his eyes.
“Well, I am here if you need someone to talk to about it, son,” Monte said.
“Thanks Dad. I’ll keep that in mind” Damian said with a half smile. Jaydah glowed.
“Nice. Now, what will make this evening greater is food. Rhonda made me hungry,” Jaydah said. “Waiter, Waiter…”
Damian trailed behind Jaydah who was following Monte out of the restaurant door. He watched his legs flop one after another to a melancholy rhythm. He concentrated on the shifting weightlessness between each lagging footstep in hopes of sensing a newfound peace and calm with the rhythm. But the emotion that he sunk into with every moving sensation was the same as before — despair.
“This world will never change for the better because its authority figures like submission and silence. Rigidity and fear. Scorn and Calculated critique.” Damian muttered to his lollygagging, sullen, 22 year old self. He finally made it onto the sidewalk. He stood several steps before 19year old Jaydah and 55 year old Monte. Damian watched Jaydah busily swipe her phone, and then watched Monte continue to yell and wave for a taxi in front of the evening Manhattan street.
Jaydah and Monte wore masks like many others on the sidewalk. However, Damian saw several people without masks appear within Damian’s scope of vision a moment later. And instead of masks, Damian saw them wear bright smiles or colorful facial expressions instead. Damian gave a small smile. “At least there’s that,” Damian commented.
By the time Damian looked back at Jaydah and Monte, a yellow cab pulled up in front of them. Monte opened the door for Jaydah, and Jaydah went in. Monte turned to Damian. “Damian, what the hell are you doing out in the street without a mask?! Put it on and get inside,” Monte demanded. Damian sighed, put on the mask and felt his legs move vibrantly with urgency as he hurried to the taxi cab. Once Damian got inside the taxi cab, Monte followed suit and closed the door. Damian felt several tears stroll down his cheek to the beat of a thought that went off in his mind: “Where was that sense of urgency before, Damian? That can’t be the only way that sense of urgency develops. That can’t be”
“I mean that’s sad bro,” Damian said loudly to his friend Shawn over the phone.
“Nah bro, that’s real. My pops told me to get my ass in the car. I’m hurrying in the car,” Shawn responded with a chuckle. Damian sucked his teeth.
“No, what’s real is the programmed fear. What’s real is that the only sense of urgency I feel in my bones is an urgency to do for others. That’s scary” Damian explained to Shawn.
“That’s human, D.” Shawn countered. “We are supposed to help each other as humans.”
“Were not supposed to be slaves Shawn!” Damian screamed at Shawn; shaking the phone lividly. “Were not supposed to be wandering zombies only knowing life upon fear; upon others in fear,”
“So why didn’t you not get in the cab?” Shawn countered once again. The question hit Damian’s stomach hard and rendered him speechless. However, Damian’s lips quivered to the vibration of what Damian felt that moment in the car — sadness, and confusion.
“Because I’m programmed Shawn” Damian yelled and then slammed his finger on the end call button.
And then Damian plopped on the couch with his hands squeezing his hair. He breathed into that tension. He breathed through that tension into his heart and held his breath. His head tremored and hands shaked as he tried to suppress a feeling in his heart. But he couldn’t do it. So he sobbed. He let the streams of water carry away all feelings of confusion, disappointment, shame and irritation. The tension In his head, hand and heart started to fade away. And before you knew it an outstretched hand with a napkin was right before him. It was an offering from Jaydah. Damian took it.
“I thought that you weren’t home. My bad,” Damian said. Jaydah smiled.
“I think that’s the one thing that you shouldn’t apologize for,” Jaydah remarked. Damian looked puzzled.
“What do you mean?” Damian asked.
“Your crying is powerful.” Jaydah stated. Damian looked at Jaydah as if she had a third head. Jaydah smiled back. “What forreal? I knew the healing effects of crying but the way that you poured your heart out with tears compelled me away from my phone and to you with a tissue in hand. And that takes a lot,”
“Well, I hope that you would give me a tissue. I am your brother after all,” Damian said. Jaydah laughed.
“Good point,” Jaydah said. Damian smiled. Jaydah placed on hand on his shoulder, looked him in the eye, and spoke “D, you feel things powerfully. Kind of like Dad. And when you all go back and forth it can be a lot. But I notice that you feel things even more deeply when you accept what you don’t know, accept what you can’t control, and accept that you have to let things go” Daniel stilled in the statement’s profundity. Jaydah smiled and left.
A moment passed, and then Damian snapped his fingers, opened up his laptop, opened up his Quik time player and pressed record, and spoke.
“Damian’s first self-awareness log entry. Topic 1: Being Conscious of your facial and emotional reaction when coping with different energy wave current and thought pattern….”