Shanté walked alone: Barefooted, dressed in pajama pants, an oversized t-shirt, and a face decorated with tears. She treaded with her head hanging low, wondering aimlessly; although that threatening phone call had made her think about going back home.
The crisp spring breeze danced around her broken body, making her even more depressed. Without permission, another hot tear crawled from her eye. As the breeze continued to flow, Shanté wondered what it was like to be the wind: Unrestricted and free of judgment and pain; able to flow freely, to be strong and forceful, yet invisible. She wished at that moment that a magical tool would come along and erase all of her pain. Erase until she no longer existed, and she too were invisible, like the wind.
“You okay baby?” a soft-spoken elderly woman with a walking cane and southern drawl asked. She looked at Shanté with concern as she made her way to the front of her home. “It’s not good to be out here with no shoes on ya feet, baby. It’s about to get dark soon. You gonna get hurt with nothing on ya feet honey.” Shanté didn’t respond. She ignored the lady’s words and kept walking. “Laaaaaawd, what’s goin’ on wit’ dese chil’ren today?” Shanté heard the old lady say as she made her way to her front steps. Shanté kept her head down and didn’t utter a word.
She came across an abandoned house and decided that she would rest there until she came up with a plan. Shanté made her way onto the porch and curled her body into one of its tight corners. What am I gonna do? I can’t live like this… I can’t deal with this shit! She closed her eyes and thought about her next move. I’ll just wait here for a while, then sneak back in the house and get my clothes and money… shit! I forgot I left my stash at Sky’s house. She thought about how she could get some quick cash. She knew going back to Sky’s place was out of the question. I got it! I’ll just take the rest of that money from the funeral cards and bounce. She pondered where she would go, but her thoughts were suddenly interrupted as she saw a jittery couple walking toward the back of the abandoned house.
“You’s a damn lie mothafucka! You know damn well you ain’t give me no five dollars! You ain’t gettin’ half of shit!”
“You’s another lie! You gonna give me my money’s worth! See, I knew I shoulda paid for the shit my-damn-self!”
“Mothafucka you…” their voices began to fade as they disappeared behind the corroding house.
Shanté closed her eyes and blocked out the sound of their muffled voices as she tried to refocus on her life. Suddenly, the front door swung open and a tall, lean, crazed-looking man stood upon the threshold. His big, terrifying eyes immediately attacked Shanté’s body. He reached down and began to massage his groins. Shanté stood in panic and eased toward the steps. The crazy-looking man smiled as he studied the panicked look on Shanté’s face. She turned and hurried down the steps as he stood in the doorway, smiling and rubbing his dick.
Shanté scurried away from the building but slowed her pace once she thought she’d reached a safe distance. Suddenly, she felt strange. An eerie chill ran through her body and her gut got heavy. Something told her to check her surroundings. She looked to her left, to her right, then to her back. Nothing. She relaxed a little, although she wasn’t completely comfortable.
As Shanté continued to walk, she felt a piercing pain attack her right foot. “Aaaaaaaah, shit!” she yelled out. She quickly found something to sit on so that she could observe what had caused the sudden pain in her foot—it was a piece of broken glass.
“This is just what I need right now,” she mumbled to herself. She began to pick at the glass, but it was too painful to remove. Staring at the sharp blade embedded in her foot made her break down and cry, but the loud voices coming from down the street quickly muted her sobs. She looked up and saw a group of girls rounding the corner. She didn’t recognize any of the faces, but they still gave her a bad feeling. She immediately jumped up and began to walk again.
Shanté glanced back and noticed them picking up their pace. She walked a little faster. Then, she saw her face—the face that let Shanté know that she was in danger. Her heart palpitated. Shanté faced forward and did what she knew she had to do—run.
She heard the sound of the girls chasing behind her, their heavy stomps sounding like a stampede. The fright of the situation made her forget about the broken glass that was stuck in her foot, and she no longer felt the pain. All she felt was her need to survive. Shanté looked back and her heart dropped to her stomach as she saw one of the girls nearing her. She cut through two small houses, hoping to shake her.
As she turned her head to catch another glimpse, Shanté tripped over a water hose. She got up as quickly as she possibly could, but it was too late. She felt the hard punches of angry fists and knew that this was it. She got a chance to look up and saw that the familiar face had joined in the fight.
Then Shanté got hit with the ultimate punch; the reality of the situation smacked her harder than any blow that the girls could have delivered. This was what she had been chasing: A life of false happiness with fake friends, searching for fictitious freedom. She had sacrificed a lot to gain acceptance, and this is where it had gotten her.
At that moment, she wondered why God had put her through so much pain, why her life had been filled with so much agony. She wanted to rewind the time and do things over, but knew that it was too late to turn things around. Feeling the brutal wrath and unrelenting fury in each punch and kick, she realized that everything she’d put into this lifestyle had all been in vain…
This is her story.
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