It wasn’t so much the whisperings of a few people that bothered Faith. It was all the attention being directed solely on her. It always seemed like everyone, even those that didn’t know her, had some sort of grudge.
“Yeah, Patricia. I saw her all hugged up on Rodney at lunch time. She was playing with his little African medallion and running her fingers through the part on his Gumby. An, um, Shayla say she saw them passing notes in Social Studies.”
“Yo, you tryna talk to my man?” Patricia was a heavy set girl with cocoa smooth skin, short curly hair and the best air-brushed jean jacket at school.
“First of all, I didn’t know you owned him. I didn’t see a collar. Second of all, maybe your man, was tryna talk to me.” Faith dropped her black Jansport book bag.
“Oooooooh!!!” Two boys sporting flattops and overalls instigated amongst the small crowd of junior high students. “Fight! Fight! Fight!”
It didn’t take long for the other kids surrounding the two girls to join in the chant. “FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!”
Despite Patricia being noticeably bigger, she was clearly the more hesitant. A young boy standing behind
her crept up and pushed her enough to move her closer to Faith.
“Uh, uh! Stop playin!” Patricia turned around frowning like the boy was her opponent. She pulled out her big bangle earrings and handed them to the girl who had given her the recap of Faith’s alleged actions.
Faith stood and watched, carefully eyeing the crowd to see if there were any other allies she needed to be cautious of. Before she could complete a full three-hundred and sixty degree scan, particularly behind her, Patricia was already balling her fist and stepping forward. Faith waited, and as expected, a barrage of misguided floundering arms instantly came her way. Patricia didn’t even have her eyes open most of the time. Faith held up her left forearm to deflect some of the punches and grabbed Patricia’s left wrist as the swinging slowed. She quickly spun around and used the momentum to send Patricia whirling off balance until her feet lost traction and her knees buckled. Patricia’s hands skid across the asphalt as she tried to stop herself. Her palms were scratched up with little pieces of rock wedged in the scrapes. All the kids were yelling.
Patricia was on her hands and knees, but before she could regain her bearings, Faith walked over and kicked her forearm, causing the girl to fall back to the ground. Faith straddled her back, grabbed a handful of hair and was getting ready to slam Patricia’s face into the street when her own hair
was suddenly pulled causing her to jolt backwards and scream in anguish. She stood to her feet, but couldn’t lift her head high enough to see who the culprit was because of the grasp the aggressor had on her hair.
Faith noticed the distinct sound of footsteps and from under her hair could see several pairs of sneakers fleeing away. The blaring of a police siren interrupted what was left of the melee, and the grip on her hair loosened enough for Faith to see an African-American female officer immediately step out of the vehicle. She had a commanding presence that extended beyond that of junior high students. With no makeup on her face, she looked hardened by her years of service on the streets.
“Alright, sweetheart, let her go. Let her go.” The officer worked through the adrenaline of the young girls and managed to separate the physical interaction. She isolated Patricia and her accomplice toward the rear of the car. “Do you ladies know that fighting will get you put into Y-A?”
The officer didn’t waste a minute of her shift on the explanation. “It was either boys, gossip, or gossip about boys, none of which are worth fighting over. Now get out of here before I start paperwork.”
The girls gathered their belongings, and pride, and made their way passed the few spectators who hadn’t run when the police showed up.
“Guess God always lets the Faith-full win!” One boy joked. Patricia gave him a menacing eye, but the twirling police light encouraged her to keep walking.
“Alright, the rest of you kids get outa here. Go home. Go to your after school center. Go to practice. Go somewhere.” The officer walked over to Faith and put her hand on her shoulder. “Are you okay?”
Faith nodded. “I wasn’t−”
“I have a break in five. Get in the car, we’ll grab a bite and I’ll drop you off.”
Faith picked her backpack off the ground and entered the vehicle with a dejected look. “Aunty Paulette, I didn’t start a fight with them. They jumped in my way and attacked me. I just defended myself.”
“Did you turn and try to walk away? Did they physically hold you there? I teach you how to defend yourself in the event there is no other alternative. I know girls are going to be jealous, and catty, and boy crazy, and all those things. It’s no different than when I was your age, except back then they wore their hair out in afros, instead of big poofs leaning to the front or to the sides!”
“But I wasn’t getting into a fight every week over it either. What would have happened if it had been another police officer or school official driving by? This would have been your fourth fight this month, and you would have definitely been suspended; possibly expelled depending on the principal’s mood! You know what happens to kids that get expelled in the Seventh grade?”
“They never have to do homework again. They never have to deal with these drama queens again. They−”
“Haha,” Paulette laughed sarcastically. “Just make sure you don’t leave out, they are more likely to be addicted to drugs. They are more likely to spend significant time in jail. They are more likely to be prostitutes or gang bangers, and at best, work at McDonalds their entire lives. Is that what you want? Is that how you want to spend your life?”
There was a long pause as Faith watched dozens of school kids pass by her window. “I just want peace.”
Paulette reached over and rubbed the back of Faith’s neck. “When your mother died, you don’t think I wanted to kill that bastard she was with? When they brought him in for questioning, you don’t think I wanted to blow his head off? “
“And I could have, may have even been able to get away with it. But what would’ve happened if I didn’t get away and went to jail over it? You would probably be in a foster home right now. Decisions can’t always be based on immediate rewards. Usually the long term consequences are like putting the Fat Boys on a seesaw with Pee Wee Herman, they only sway to one side – bad!” Paulette pulled into the drive thru of a Pioneer Chicken. “You are my big sister’s daughter, so you help fill the hole she left. And at her funeral, I promised I would take care of you like you were my own. In some ways, I may be even harder on you than if you were my own. But that is only because I see the beauty and brains that God has given you! If there is one thing the bible teaches us, it’s that Faith always has a purpose in God’s kingdom.”
Rickey Teems II is an acclaimed author, but that probably wasn’t too difficult to figure out since this is, well, a publishing website for books. What you may not have known is that his creativity spans all age groups and he has won awards and received recognition for both his children’s books and fiction novels. Teems obtained both his Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy with honors, and actively works with adolescents in mentoring and counseling programs in South Central Los Angeles. Teems is an Air Force veteran, active church member, and father to two beautiful daughters.
His award winning and faith filled works for adults include: Regression, The Healing of Love and Laughter, Fighting for Glory, Unshakeable Faith and Can I be Frank. His young adult and children’s books are: Keep it 100: Real Talk on being a Real Man, You Can’t Eat Toes for Breakfast and Why Can’t We See God (book 1 in the Harry and Sherry Discovery Series). To contact Rickey, be sure to visit: www.noguilebooks.com or find him on FaceBook and Twitter and say 'what's up.'