SALT By: Khari LeeSlater

 

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The September breeze is sharp and crisp. Crisp enough to bring unpleasantness to my nose. My sheened static hair flows with the currents of the wind. I hear the clap of the low heeled oxfords on the muted concrete. It looks like fall. The other adolescents crowd around me, buzzing around as if they were bees. Chatters develop as my soon-to-be peers notice our contrast.

“Ebony”

“Latrice”

“Keshia”

“Angela”

I hear all the different names pile up against my ears as these “natives” try to figure me out. I’m too proud to look below the eyes of others, so I keep my head high. I can still hear the clap of my maroon heeled oxfords. Innocent minds compile at the foot of the door. The wood is a deep, dark, mildly glossed brown. I stop in the steps. Kids run in the old building, as I stand as if not invited. The sound of my shoes eases my tension as I make my way to the steps.I sigh loudly, just to reassure myself of my nervousness, and to remind myself that these feelings are human. My left leg carries my left foot, which presses down on the shiny flooring. One foot in, but before I proceed with the next body part, someone grabs me by the waist. I turn, unsure of what emotion I was supposed to express.

” ‘Scuse me,” the mysterious guy says, and softly shifts me to the right, then nonchalantly releases my waist.

“Um, sorry.” I study his lightly tanned face. It’s bombarded with brown freckles. He has very sharp cheekbones and dark brownish hair. His attire differed from the other males at the school we attended. The strange guy briefly stared, before making his way down the halls. I adjust my mustard yellow peacoat and head for the nearest bathroom. As I look in the mirror I make sure I look somewhat acceptable before finding my classes. I apply more dark purple lipstick and fix my long thick lashes. My dark skin contrasts beautifully with my teeth and lip color. I pulled my short fitted light purple dress down. Even though its only the 70s I’ve always admired the 50s mod look. All of the colors I picked are dark and muted, but makes my red under tones, beneath my chocolate skin, brighten. I make my way down the expanding hallway. I feel as if I’m Alice falling horizontal. I pass a small glass room, where I see small heads bob back and forth. I firmly grab the stainless steel handle and turn it.The carpet is unlevel from the marble flooring in the hall.

Pale faces and cat-eyed frames all cock their heads toward me. Silence fills the room until a portly olive toned woman with purple glasses and smeared red lipstick breaks the awkward atmosphere. My stomach feels as if its going to drop as I open the door. Nothing but white faces stare at me as if in a trance. The teacher makes eye contact and points to an empty seat in the center of the class. Kids laugh as I get to my seat; fortunately I’m too well accustomed. As I make my way to my desk, I notice the person who sits behind me. He’s the same freckled faced guy from earlier. I smile at him, but I don’t get one in return. He looks down at his paper, then back at the teacher, as if I’m not there. If I wasn’t so dark you could see how red my face was. I sit silently. I can feel the other eyes burn through my skin. I wait for the class to end. I try to brush off my embarrassment and focus on the teacher. Mr. Hanks is a tall, olive skinned man. In all honesty, he’s actually very handsome. Handsome enough to become a model. His sharp jawline and light brown eyes pierce through you almost. I intently watch his large masculine hands as he spins the huge faded globe. Quickly finding India. After about fifteen minutes of his teachings, we’re handed a single sheet of paper. He instructs the class to write about What History Means To You. He walks down the aisle and passes out the sheets of paper. As he passes, I get a whiff of his cologne. His smell motivates me. An average size sheet of paper I placed in front of me. I grab my black pencil from my bag and write my name boldly, pressing down hard on my paper.

Elizabeth M..

Date: September 25, 1972

I begin to write:

History, in my opinion is just another word for origins. I can’t just pinpoint one thing about history, and define what it means to me. History is Deep, but shallow and remains simple. I can’t exactly tell you what history means to me, all you ask you to do it is represent it correctly.

 I reread my small passage about three times. I’m told to bring my paper towards the front desk. I stand up and smooth my dress down and shape out my Afro. The class is deathly silent. My low-heeled oxfords clap against the tile. I’m the first to turn my work in, so all eyes are on me. Mr. Hanks grabs my paper, making intense eye contact. He looks at my mouth, then my nose, then my large, dramatic Afro, but lastly he stares at my melanin rich skin. I can’t pinpoint his emotions towards me, so I turn on my heel and strut down towards my seat. His eyes never left my presence. I become nervous. He breaks his stare and reads my paper. There’s no reaction.

The bell rings.

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