Snippets | Teen Ink


June 2, 2016
By Ronz9 SILVER, Oak Park, Illinois
Ronz9 SILVER, Oak Park, Illinois
7 articles 1 photo 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Sh*t was divine" - a kid in my philosophy class during a debate on the creation of the universe

“This is why people hate us.” Her finger pointed to the pretentious plant in the corner; up to the ceiling, hanging with a cloud of crappy night club music which sounded like kids playing the xylophone; and then to the menu, duck with some french sauce and $15 single scoop ice cream, topped with a blade of grass.  I laughed and so did my mom, in the middle of the bar, in the middle of Pilsen, a neighborhood on the up and up, getting more vintage clothing shops and vegan restaurants. Last week, here, a woman was shot by a stray bullet while she sat in her car on the phone with her dad. And she continued talking to him for a few more moments. “My head hurts.”
I was sitting in gospel choir pretending to pray, as I always did. I did it for the music, not the lyrics, but something was kinda healing about it. I only felt white in that room because everyone else was black. And even then it wasn’t the worst feeling. I, and everyone else in the room knew, that it was to my benefit. Now, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t imagine feeling my skin color all the time. As people stared at my off rhythm swaying, I could tell no matter how hard they tried, they would never forget. I left gospel choir and the feeling left me.

  I sat in the lobby next to a magazine rack waiting for my own grandma and another pruney woman's wheelchair faced the bird cage in the corner. Her face was the soft pink-white of seashells, matching the nautical theme of the nursing home. Her hair was a brighter white and it matched the fluorescent light bulbs. He slowly trailed down the hall talking to a nurse. He came to the wheelchair handles and looked down at her from above. The wrinkles near his eyes creased but fought to disappear. I recognized him as her son, but she glanced at him like she was flipping through channels-- then back at the iron birdless cage.

He joked, “these are complimentary of your great government,” holding several crappy cell phones in his hands. His shirt used to be white but sitting here all day had turned it subway gray. His life sat on the floor shoved against the mint tile walls, a sign of cardboard propped up, and a cup for change or the occasional dollar. People passing stared, trying to fit some sort of story together. The plastic cup filled with charity and he realized his greatest advertisement were the white signs next to him. The brown cardboard was useless. 

“So, I sent Mrs. Graham a basket of cookies and fruit because she broke her leg and then I started to make a quilt for her.” My grandma was explaining her week to me. “I told the pastor I would take Saturday morning shift at the homeless shelter, but he said I’ve been working too hard -- Ahhhh Jeeeesus chri-  Jim! JIIIIIM! It’s on the feeder. Hurry, quick! It’s a humma ma it’s gonna fly away! Jiiiiiim!” My grandma was on the other end of the line losing her religion over the hummingbird at the feeder. I heard my grandpa’s cowboy boots click across the wood floor quickly. “Boy, that’s a beauty.” He said in awe. “It’s really here! Weeeooo I swore it would come one day! I’ve uh been putting umhm juice in that contraption for years!” I thought I heard her voice cracking softly like she was about to cry as if the Jesus Christ himself had come back to Earth. But, this was just a humma ma bird.

“Isabel is the sweetest girl in the world.” Crap, I thought, did I just do that? I was praying she didn’t notice that I had just used the wrong verb tense. I don’t think she noticed! She was staring at the cheese and cracker plate on the other end of the nursing home like it was the most interesting thing she ever saw. “You know the best thing that came out of this?”
I took that as a rhetorical question, and I really couldn’t think of anything. “This boy in Isabel’s class set a place at his dinner table for her.” Crap, it was coming. I barely knew the little girl. It was too late. I was crying. “I told him to set a place for me right on next to her.” She was still looking at the cheese and cracker plate, but her eyes weren’t hungry. Her head was so still like she was afraid it would fall off. She was doing a balancing act, and that cheese plate was her point of focus. A lady went over and put more crackers on the plate and began to cut more slices of cheese. For the first time, her eyes left the cheese plate and she seemed to be floating. She smiled and it was real. I could tell by the way her cheeks filled. We made eye contact. Without enough time to dry, my eyes were still salty and wet. She noticed and practically scooped me up. “Isabel really liked you,” she said. I really didn’t know the little girl.


I offered to take him home and he was surprised. I liked the way his eyes looked like birds, the corners pointed like beaks. But as his face got closer I could only focus on the black holes about to swallow me. The engine rolled. Song 29. It was almost time to switch out CDs.

“There were dinosaurs before we had a concept of dinosaurs.”
“Did you hear that?”
“Yeah...  ”
“Any response?”
“Yeah, I’m gonna ask you to hold on to that. Put it right here.” She put it in the glove compartment. “Don’t take it personally. I just had a long day, and my brain physically can’t be blown right now.”
“I’ll call you.” She smiled.

The author's comments:

Comin of Age Epiphanies

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