More Than Just A Name

Nikki Hollis

Upon the civil unrest that has fallen upon the United States in 2020, Nikki Hollis created a short fictional story inspired by the current events. The lack of justice that continues to happen in America reopens a world that minorities don’t realize isn’t normal. The casual encounters of racism isn’t a part of everyone’s daily life. Causing an uproar of passionate, devout, and insistent people to fight for the rights of others and those who opposed to combat the push for justice. This short story is a representation of some of the people and factors that are prevalent in the current political climate.

Pure empathy, the capacity to understand and sympathize with the feelings of another, but where has that gone. One story. One name. One voice.

The breeze swiftly touches the space between each leaf, whispering and murmuring amongst themselves in the serene vacancy of my backyard. The sun beaming off of the book in my hand and flashing its light into the depths of my eyes  forcing me to focus, instead, on the kids biking and dancing in the streets.  I allow myself  to refocus my attention on the book and the breeze that is slowly approaching me, but before I blink, the screams of a child break the air and my heart sinks to the floor, in fear of what I will find at the end of the boy’s screams. I run to the beat of my heart. Adrenaline pushing through the walls of veins and my lungs gasping for air to calm the speed of my heart. 

  I find a single boy drowning in his tears, his shirt a beautiful blue tainted and destroyed by dirt. His voice quivering in fear with every word that left his mouth.

 “My brother was taken from me.”

I noticed there are two bikes behind him. One small and the same sky blue as the boys shirt and a larger one bent and broken, the color of charcoal with smokey edges. 

“ What is your name?”

“ His name was Jakob Miller”, the boy replied with his reddened eyes meeting mine.

 His eyes were filled with so much fright and terror and despair I didn’t dare to ask again, but he will remain in my mind as Blue. I took his hand in mine; to my surprise, he had scars that were aged farther than any  house on this block.

“Who took your brother?” 

“The men covered in the darkest shades of black and blue,” he replied, staggering on every syllable, “they said I would be next, if I wasn’t wearing blue today”. 

As I console the young, grief-stricken boy, I spot the other two kids, who were dancing in the streets just minutes before.

With every step, every minute they came closer I could feel the tension thicken between me, the boy, and their presence. 

The white striped girl came closer to us. She looked saddened by what she witnessed before I arrived, “ I am so sorry what has happened to you,” she said as the tears welled up in her eyes. I couldn’t distinguish if it were pity tears or a mere self-reflection that brought disappointment upon herself. Then, as if it were her own brother that had been stolen by the men, she fell to the cement and burst into tears,” I will save you and Jakob Miller from these awful men”. This girl’s pity wasn’t solving the issue, instead, shifting the attention to her and her feelings. Her voice was filled with ego even behind those tears of pity. I could tell Blue knew this, his hands squeezed mine a little tighter, and his aged scars slowly were becoming new.

As if to rub salt in the wound, the boy in red stripes opened his mouth, he spewed his vile, atrocious, and repulsive words all over the Blue. 

“ Your brother had it coming, he was wearing green today. Of course he was going to be taken by the men in black and blue,” Blue interjected, “What if were your own brother who was taken, would you agree with the men then,” The boy in red stripes replied, “ It wouldn’t happen to my brother because he has green stripes and he isn’t suspicious, it is just the way it is. Life isn’t fair”.

Those words turned into daggers and cut right through the scars in Blue. You could tell that Blue always knew of these scars but when they were reopened and shared with the rest of the world, it reminded him of the difference between him and them. A rude awakening of what he had pushed down in order to survive, an awakening that shook his very core and reverberated  his thoughts and emotions all over his body, an awakening that fueled his desire for better, and Blue would not accept any less.

He got off of his bloodied knees, tears still flowing and falling past his shoulders, but his voice no longer staggered and teetered on every word, his voice boomed with power: 

 I am human. I don’t have stripes, but I am human. I bleed and I have bled more than any of you and your family’s combined. These scars don’t come from nowhere and they are deeper and darker than any trench. These men in the darkest shade of black and blue would never hurt you in the way they hurt me and my family. I will not allow you to destroy us, I will not let you forget his name and you will continue to hear his name until him and all of my brothers and sisters are equal to you and your striped shirts. His name is Jakob Miller and he is more than just a name.

I watched as thunder and rain fell upon us all and lightning struck the houses and  buildings. Every strike of mother nature resembled every name of those who were taken by the men in the darkest shade of black and blue. Destruction of what we knew brought a gift of redemption, but those who didn’t walk remained in the dark. Left alone exposed to a broken, barren society.