SIMBAA VOL. 7 2012
In Dedication to David Amadio Professor Amadio taught at Lincoln University from 2005-2012. Professor Amadio reluctantly left the students he loved to follow his dream of writing. We thank him for his efforts in producing Simbaa every year, for his inspiration and for helping students to find their creative voice.
Department of English Dr. Cheryl Gooch, Dean of the School of Humanities Dr. Marilyn Button, Chair Board of Editors Kristin Van Riper David Amadio Bill Donohue
Lincoln University 1570 Old Baltimore Pike Lincoln University, PA 19352 484.365.7506 www.linclon.edu
Table of Contents Winners of the 2012 Poet Laureate Contest Maria Vismale “Cyber Beauty” Taylor Marie Lyons “Race Against Time”
Poetry Love Does Not Mean Sex Proceed With Caution Let Life Happen White Don’t Judge Me All For You Liberty Stupid White Lies Wrath My Raven Mother Mapiya
5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18
Winners of the Guy Sims Short Fiction Contest Asia Black It Could Happen To You Adriana Fraser Elsie’s Boy Gabrielle Nonnenberg – Reid Unanswered Questions
19 22 25
A beauty behind almond shaped eyes Challenges the authenticity of the bluest skies. With the smoothest skin of silk And internal blemishes combine, Curved lips and a smile Once held on to memories which birthed intricate laugh lines. A face detailed by God and carved from clay Ready to be read like a book in all its glory. Yet behind the computer screen is where your image rests Painted up like a Barbie, On Facebook you change your profile for viewers to ingest. But in this cyber world of fantasy, Fiction becomes truth and flaws are personified by A user’s lack of vulnerability. For the weakest people are the weak. The nicest people are the freaks. The sanest people are the meek Typing away yet human interaction is what they seek. Isolated by all the machines of today we are held in captivity. Because that's the motto for society based around Status updates and constant social network activity. Now your friend count is what really counts. Its the growing number of who you "know" not PERSONALITY Which reigns paramount. For this venomous virtual vortex, Disguised as a news feed is just an advertiser’s playground filled of commercials and ads. Force feeding our society whom rely on materialism to get their fix Filling voids with luxury items that have high price tags. Nurturing our greed we thirstily suck from capitalism's sagging tit Glamorous lifestyles dreamed of not in touch with the real we become counterfeit. Now Hollywood hollowed and built as if made with glue Cyberspace has become the scaly monster in our living rooms. Heartbroken made of plastic and filled with putty Beauty no longer lies below the surface with an online buddy. You disconnect and a flash of light disappears as the screen blinks out Designed to be beautiful with those lips, eyes, a nose there’s no doubt. You see a remarkable image yet unfamiliar face Absorbed by technology your identity has been erased.
A Race Against Time
Taylor Marie Lyons
200 years held in captivity, branded like cattle, worked like dogs, Treated like dirt The Emancipation Proclamation gave us a false sense of freedom That illusion was quickly unmasked when Jim Crow came to town. Decades have passed, time has continued, and the wounds of oppression have been forever Embedded in the minds of our people. We went from Kings and Queens, to slaves and maids, to drug dealers and prostitutes. Coerced into gang-banging, swayed into drugs, and herded into a cycle of self-deterioration And social corruption. Liberated from plantations and packed into ghettos Now the future of our people rest in the audience of this generation Trying to make an army out of confused soldiers fighting a backwards war. Trapped in a play called LIFE. Cast as people of the same color, wearing the uniform of another Fighting to be real men like Pinocchio While trying to break free from the clutch of Uncle Sam cast as Chappetetto Exiled to a land of poverty, poverty has needs, needs breeds thieves, thieves make war, War brings corpses. These streets have seen more blood than the battle fields of World War I and II. We are in a race against time. Itâ€™s a Race against TIME. When the clock strikes again, is it your life or mine?
Love does NOT mean Sex
Weren’t you the one who told me this wasn’t temporary? That I was different from your other girls, the type that you would marry Or at least picture carryin your kids Cuz all your other girls were sleezy, I’m your first that wasn’t easy Had my standards, set some boundaries, but somehow you still deceived me when you said “You know I love you right” Now anytime we talked you only mentioned one thing And you knew I had some doubts so you brought me a promise ring And convinced that I loved you, I pushed my common sense aside Ignored advising from my mentor And made you my only guide Meanwhile, my bestfriend didn’t like you. Said if she was a boy then she would fight you And though I couldn’t tell my family, I stayed in this to excite you because You loved me right? But I said, “Babe, its not the right timing” And you said, “Naw babe its not the right lightin” In the back of my mind I thought this should be exciting But mixed feelings in my gut struck my body like lightning Then as you grew close, I knew I’d soon be in regret I felt you creepin up my thighs, I felt you kissin on my neck And I was wet, and I thought no, I thought babe stop, but let you go And there I stayed, and yet I choose to give you all of me, Exposed After weighing cons and pros, I let you have your way and froze because after all Sex proves love right? I gave you the rights, freedom and keys to everywhere above my knees To come and go as you please Trespassing me, my beliefs, and needs You knew my standards and who I stood for But you always seemed to ignore me when I talked about him See I thought I knew me, I swore I knew you Now all I do is cry, While all you do is, you And I guess it wasn’t love after all You pressured me to release something that when lost can’t be retrieved Had me opening my body to who know what disease Cuz wait it gets worse, See you wasn’t just with me Come to find out, I was more like one, In three So used to preachin abstinence, ain’t touched that topic ever since My virginity is past tense, our relationship has passed hence The reason why I vent Ladies take this as your hint to
Stop touchin, and start talkin I found out his motives by him walking and So much for love See it would’ve been smart to question, Do you love him or do you lust him girl? Can you believe him or do you trust him? Cuz trust me, there’s a difference We started talkin issues, then we started seeing distance I thought I saw love, While he only saw legs He vacationed from his Xbox, I vacationed from my grades, which sucks for me cuz I had all A’s So fleshly minded, I let myself get blinded I looked for my answer in him, I didn’t find it He wasn’t in it for the long run He played and then he quit, he hit and then he split And now the only thing running through my mind is, I knew it I knew my scriptures and my verses, had a Bible in my purse But it was all just so rehearsed, because I put my own flesh first I was frontin, and for nothin cuz I knew just what to say When I hung out late at church, but I lived a different way And there I was headin in a statistics direction I knew God’s point of view but swore I’d be that one exception, And I wasn’t So I repented, Killed the old me Then God cleaned me up, Remolded me He showed me who I know to be Forgot my sins, and he told me You know I love you right So now as a result, I stay far away from lust To get intimate with God cause He’s one man I trust And every since he’s changed me and brought me out that hex Until I’m wed, I’ve locked my legs Cuz I know Love does NOT mean sex
Proceed With Caution
Here I am, Open and vulnerable Ready to bare it all But lets take it slow ‘Cuz deep down inside, I’m terrified. I want you to know me Explore every inch of me But I’m not ready to give you that kind of control. How do I know you can be trusted with the treasure I behold? Can’t let you caress my thoughts Or smooth talk me into undressing my fears At least not yet. It’s too soon to remove the layers protecting my prize I’m not too comfortable with you exploring my insides, I have too much to lose by allowing you into my mind And risk being played a second time. Want to give you the reins Grant you freedom to infiltrate my territory But I’m not ready for you to penetrate me that deeply. So for right now, let me regulate the pace. Feed you bits and pieces of knowledge Gently ease you into my world Just enough to get your whistle wet. I would love to show you my depth Allow you to peak at the hopes and dreams cultivated in my cranium But how do I know this isn’t just a quick nut? You could easily mistake my craving for conversation as an invitation for ejaculation Briefly stroking my membrane for your entertainment. And then moving on to the next lonely patron. You may think I have a wild imagination but Visions of my darkest secrets baing raped by your lies haunt me at night. Maybe it’s my past or simply insecurities But some part of me is afraid to let you in Without truly knowing your motives for being here. See I’m willing to let you get to know me But I can’t give it up that easily.
Let Life Happen
I’m in one big room Full of sad women All staring at one clock On the wall in the distance. The two hands on the one clock say it’s time to take action. Are we sure about this is the question the doctor keeps askin? All of a sudden I hear “Mrs Anderson”? I wonder what she’s pondering As she prepares to enter a room that will stop her inner blossoming. Two lives in one One daughter or one son One father and one mother Must do what must be done. In one cold room with three bright lights It feels like one thunderstorm On one gloomy dark night. One old man asks us if we’re sure I take one deep breath And I look at her. Her hand on my spine I feel her second thoughts And her first word to the one doctor Is “No” followed by “I’m not” She and I are connected Two halves of one Soon we will be three thirds Me, her and our daughter or son.
It was so cold, Sitting on the table in that papery robe. White walls; white paper underneath me, White lady with white paper writing down everything, I say She examined me. Her diagnosis was simple: 2 words, 5 syllables, 1 phrase that would leave me crippled. Tears falling, but I manned up. They took my blood and I stood up. Gathered my thoughts as my clothes replaced them on my body, preparing to give my parents the shock of their lives. I walked out. My father hung his head and walked away from me. My mom fell on her knees praying to God my soul to keep. Their looks of disappointment made me breakdown in that backseat. Their little girl, defiled, besmirched, but that was me. My mind flashed back to that night In his all black Dodge Caliber. On that dead-end street, And us all over his suede interior. He was my best friend who, that night, become my lover, My love that was always my best friend. But my lover failed me So I guess he was just my best friend. But he loved me when I figured the world would leave me cold. Got tested, lucky for him nothing showed. So who gave it to me? Don’t think I’ll ever know; I trusted the wrong guy but the world just gonna see a hoe! Somewhere down the line though, I found the truth about my situation. The worst day of my life, was truly a day of liberation. Freed from an entirely sexualized nation, I asked the good Lord for my salvation. You see, I’m not the identity of an STD demonstration. I am still, in God’s eyes, His greatest creation.
Don’t Judge Me
Paige K Mitchel
Coming up in New York City, I knew I was never like the others Since I was a young child, I lived as if I was under cover Constantly running, because I didn’t want anyone to know I thought I was just going through a phase, and this issue would eventually go Ashamed to look in the mirror, and having to come face to face with the truth Living lies from day to day, trying to keep my truth from getting loose I remember trying so hard to fit in with the kids at school Never aware that I was playing the fool… I never kissed, dated, or went to prom Through my family’s eyes, this was wrong I knew my mother only wanted me to live a normal life, and wanted the best for me But I knew that what I thought was best for me, her eyes could not bear to see What is a teenager to do, living in such freight? Sometimes I don’t understand how I managed to sleep at night Trying to sleep was like a nightmare The images in my head, I could not bare Secrets, secrets… circling all around thee How to tell my mother, that my father used to sexually harass me I wonder if she would listen, and if she would believe I wandered if she would receive, or get up and leave Because of my father, I am not the man I could have been Instead of being with women, I am now attracted to men I never went to prom, because I knew I really wanted to go with Rob And I never got that first kiss with Pam, because I secretly liked her brother Sam Its hard to be accepted in this cruel world Being an African American male, who rather be with a boy than a girl How to explain to my beloved mother, that everything is not how she thinks it is Or having to tell my family that I cannot remain the way they want me to live My truth and my story deserves to be heard No matter the outcome, I cannot continue to be so reserved In the kitchen, I left my mother a letter Explaining everything, hoping that things would get better Unfortunately, things are not always what it seems On the outside we seemed as if we were living the family dream My world was far from perfect Never judge a book by its cover
All for You
I wanna explore the bed sheets of your mind Where memories lie Cutbacks To backstabs Doubts of sincerity because Of insecurity Trips to distant pasts that Couldnâ€™t be afforded I wanna excavate the pillows of your heart Where love starts Amor tattoo Etched kisses Spoons full of Passion pudding Ivy bodies intertwining In space I wanna examine the velvet blanket of your skin Where we begin Climbing the Great Wall of Your Ego Two-steppin to your Slow jam beats Conceiving joy Along your porcelain veneers I wanna expire in the bed of our flame Where I laid my claim For you
Over your sweet grave I came to chant you a song No more tears, no more grief… just pleasant dreams behind our eyes. No more white monsters under your bed… No more laughs above your skin… just precious freedom behind our eyes. Go away innocent angel, leave the land of haters and rapists, turn back your face, tender black spirit and never doubt… I will avenge you. Today is a good day to burn things down…
Stupid White Lies
Asia A. Black
I cry my heart out with this pad and pen. I stain my pain in ink. Though these tears are paper thin… They are deeper than you think. I drown inside life’s shallow lies. They suffocate my day. Behind blind eyes our pride denies. There is nothing left to say. Never last forever. Yet today the end begins. We are yesterdays together. Turned tomorrow’s long lost friends
Jamal R. Johnson
It’s disgusting when I get mad because I can never find the right words Everything I say I either didn’t mean to or did mean to but that's not the point I shouldn't have I’ve found a stress reliever I take my anger out on the paper Leaving bolded words That shouldn't be And holes in the paper Much deeper than this I find it much easier To carry a pen than the typical weapons of choice Besides, What comes out the pen May hurt you much more It may not I'll let you decide I'm stuck at the point between a simile and a metaphor The dichotomy of allegorical anger either I can tell you what it is or I can tell you what it relates to; either way I attempt to communicate. Much better than I would with a pistol or a blade Blood dries as Ink dries. A weapon To the wrong hands, A getaway to the other Either of them Won't do I choose the pen When my tongue can't form the right words The pen is my refuge and my anger is existent. No need for an indictment Arrest me First Degree Murder You'll never find the body the body is buried underneath books and bills
somewhere folded 81/2 X 11 White, with lines. Three piercings vertically down the left side Armed with cognition it never stood a chance, and it wasn't self-defense An engraved homicide, and I'm the least bit empathetic Never been sorry I'll kill another tonight Death to the loose leaf
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary Over the years and trials so I’m not quite sure which way to go Who can I trust and who should I run from? For my doubting and questioning has begun Thought she was a friend who cared sincerely But secretly she was consumed with envy Should I give her another chance? My internal voices have said But when I ask aloud one responds “Never again” Ah, distinctly I remember when we first met In grade school, which I now regret It’s amazing how you ignore the early signs Sometimes the truth is so hard to realize How could I have been so blind? Naïveté is unfortunately my demise I’ve always tried to be so nice But maybe she didn’t mean it So I ask a second time But the voice replies once again “That girl is not your friend” And the silken sad uncertain rustling of my emotions Grieves the loss of this relationship Not because I’ll miss her as a person But for the time I mistakenly wasted My mind confused and in devastation For who I will trust now is my concentration One of the hardest things in this world Is overcoming manipulation “Never again” “Never again” I will be more careful with my selection of friends I will continue to succeed And she will have to learn To go on with life without me “Never again” Will I not trust my instinct It’s a natural blessing humans possess, innate So why do we struggle so many times Trying to analyze obvious lies? “Never again” Will I doubt myself
Or work so hard to please everyone else You only live once and it should be the greatest I refuse to allow another to drag me in sadness “Never again” “Never again” “Never again” Thank you, my raven.
Untie your woven hair from your bright crown, life mate. Let your sprouted roots dance on the layers of the Sky Goddess’ blows. Her air is the essence of the wind of a high power; The breath of a distant guardian angel guarding the angels that fly Among the kindred spirits of our tribe of flower children. These flowers blow in the gusts of the goddess’ lung. Her oxygen sets our souls free. We float on the ripples of time in her story teller as we flee. We’ll forever last with the bodies or puerility You and me and us and we. He and she and her and him, they will stray away with us; Destination incomplete. Nowhere to go but everywhere. Nowhere to pray but in her prayer. She will guide us, you see. We will soar among the sparkles imbedded in her cerulean hair. She will protect us, you see. She will direct us, you and me. The brand you Kamama and me Alikkees For your butterfly kisses on my scalp Cause your wings to take flight. We live as livers live; Thinking, breathing; existing in the meadows. They blossom around usThe grass growing over our pinnacles As we dance around the flaming fire set by the passion in our hearts; The kindle of our light, The creator of our creation. Her only translation is the world of wind. We’ll swim in her worldly phrases. She’ll guide us until we’re safe and Sing us lullabies in the wet forms of rain storms. She’ll embrace to keep us warm. We’ll spin in her irrigate love songs. Move with me as waterfall water falls on our circumstances of completion. Fall with me into air form. Kamama, please set down your wings. Let your lightness dissolve with mine as we drift into ethereal For besides each other, celestial futures are all we hold in our hands.
It Could Happen To You
My name is Myah Sanford. I am a Junior at Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, I love the color pink, I enjoy taking long walks across the beach, and I am HIV positive. I could already hear the variety of loud voices coming from the cafeteria, or the cafe as everyone liked to call it, as I walked down the steps of the LLC. It was noon, and the only thing on my mind was food at this point. It was Friday, so I didn’t have class. I had been in bed until 11:00 a.m., when the piercing sound of my alarm went off. I woke up with a horrible migraine. Looking back on it, maybe that was a signal to show me that today was not going to be the best. Upon entrance to the cafe, I could feel my phone buzzing in my pocket. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and saw that Chanel was calling me. “Hey Myah, I just saw you come in to the cafe, turn to your right.” I quickly hung up the phone once I noticed Chanel sitting with her boyfriend Steven and waving her hand at a high round table near the center of the room. Chanel and I had been best friends since the end of freshman year, we are now juniors, and we’ve been through a lot together. I sat my keys down on the table and walked to the grill. “Same old fries and cheeseburgers” I said to myself. I could always predict exactly what was going to be in the cafe to eat. It was approaching 12:30, so it was lunch time for everyone at this point. I didn’t see one empty table. I waited in line for what seemed like forever. Patience isn’t really my strong point. Once I got my food I headed back to the table where Chanel and Steven were sitting. Last night was Thirsty Thursday, an unofficial holiday on Lincoln’s campus. Although President Robert Jennings made Lincoln University’s campus completely dry and laid down a zero tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol, people still find ways to partake in this so called weekly holiday. I didn’t engage in any of the “extra-curricular activities” last night, but Steven could not say the same. “I feel horrible. I don’t even have an appetite” said Steven. “That’s what you get babe. You told me you were going to stop drinking anyways!” Chanel said, with a smirk on her face. Steven and Chanel always got on each other’s nerves, but they were definitely two peas in a pod. A relationship that I definitely looked up to. A relationship that I wish I had. Terrence and I were complicated; we were together officially for most of my sophomore year. He’s in his fourth year now, his last year. Terrence is on the basketball team, and during the season he never left the court. Honestly, he’s the best player on the team. Terrence is also a very active member of a fraternity. Lincoln is only but so big, so everyone knows his name. Terrence is more than popular, and sometimes that gets on my nerves. We met in Professor Molano’s Spanish class my freshman year. I don’t know what attracted me to him more, his looks or his charm. I ended up helping him with Spanish. I was his tutor outside of class. Out of everything he was great at, Spanish was not his strong suit. We would meet up every Wednesday and Friday around 4 o’clock. One thing led to another, and after all the time we spent together we became an item. “What are you thinking?!” I remember Chanel’s voice loud and clear, like it was yesterday. “He’s nothing but a player! He is so cocky, and he has all these other girls chasing after him.” I always listened to her as she vented, but I don’t think I ever really took any of it into consideration. The things she had to say were very true, but I had so much faith in this man, to the point where he could do no wrong. All great things must come to an end. In April, about a week before the school year was over, Terrance broke up with me. When I asked what the reasoning behind it was, he said he was going to be busy and needed time to find himself. We all know what that means: Terrence did not want to be tied down any longer, especially over the summertime. It hurt me at first, but in time I felt better about it. Over the summer we continued to talk, and even sometimes hang out. We both lived in New York, so when possible we would make efforts to see each other. Since we continued to remain close, my feelings stayed the same. It was like I was in a relationship, but did not have the title. Unfortunately I was basically his best friend with benefits. I was
forced to listen about all the girls he was involved with, and act like I was okay with it. Now I finally realize what Chanel was trying to warn me about before I even got involved with him. I left the cafe, and began to walk to Lucy Laney Hall with Chanel and Steven. After walking up a few steps to the entrance, Chanel swiped her I.D. to unlock the door. Chanel lived on the third floor, so it took us a little while to get to her room. I hate climbing the steep staircase of Laney. Chanel reached in her purse to grab her keys so she could unlock the door to her room. To Chanel’s surprise, her keys were not in her bag. “I must have left them on the table in the cafe!” Chanel said angrily. “I’ll go check babe, stay here,” said Steven. While Steven went to grab the keys, Chanel and I sat down in the hall way and started a conversation. “This morning I had chemistry, I walked from here to the science building with my eyes half shut, I am so tired. Steven had to be taken care of last night so I hardly got any sleep,” said Chanel. Chanel always made sure Steven was taken care of. I don’t know if I could do the same. An 8 a.m. chemistry course is not what I would want to do after a long night of caretaking and no sleep. We continued our conversation until we heard Steven quickly climbing the steps. Luckily he had Chanel’s keys in hand. She opened the door and we all entered her room. Chanel’s roommate was Yasmin. She had gone home for the weekend, so Chanel had her room to herself. I was also friends with Yasmin; she has lived next to me for 8 years. Yasmin and I chose to come to Lincoln together. I remember it like it was yesterday. We went to the same high school, so when senior year came around we applied for all of the same colleges. Lincoln University, the first historically black college was our first choice. We were so excited when we got our acceptance letters. As time went on, she and I got involved with different groups of people and activities. We were also two completely different majors. We were not as close as we used to be, but we were still friends. So naturally I made myself comfortable, and sat on Yasmin’s bed. This way, Chanel and Steven could be comfortable on Chanel’s bed together. Chanel has a huge collection of DVDs to watch. Between the three of us we decided to watch The Hangover. That movie never fails at making anyone laugh. Thirty minutes into the movie I could feel my phone buzzing once again. I looked down at the screen, and it was Terrance. I was confused to why he was calling me. It was almost 2 o’clock, and to my knowledge he had class in University Hall around this time. “Hello, Myah are you busy?” he said. His voice was very shaky, and I knew something was bothering him. I responded “No, not really. I’m in Chanel’s room watching The Hangover”. “Meet me in Dickey Hall in like five minutes?” he said sternly. I responded yes, and quickly hung up the phone. Dickey Hall sits right behind Laney so I quickly ran down the steps, and out of the backdoor. I was sitting in Dickey Hall’s lobby in no time. A few minutes later I see Terrance walk through the opposite entrance which faced the road to the science building and ASL. Terrance lives in ASL, so I figured that he had just left his room. The look on his face was indescribable. I had never seen him look so scared before. Without hesitation I asked him what the problem was. “I don’t know how to say this….” Terrance said as tears started to stream down his face. My natural instinct was to hug him. Terrance dropped his head into his hands lying on his lap, and said “I know our relationship has been so difficult, but I just want to say that I do love you, Myah, but…I may be positive for HIV.” He couldn’t even look me in the face when he said it. I started to giggle. “This is nothing to play about, Terrance! Stop playing with me!” I said. Terrance couldn’t really get a sentence out, but it became obvious that this was no joke. Basically he explained to me that someone close to me had called his phone crying and saying she could not keep this information a secret from him anymore. He and I knew that he was the only person I had ever had sex with in the entire world. If he contracted, HIV it was because he was having unprotected sex with some else besides me. Terrance and I had been having unprotected sex since we started having sex. I should have known better. Different organizations on campus always have these forums about safe sex and the consequences that come from being unprotected. There are many forums that also focus on healthy relationships as well. Not to mention we as Lincoln students are more than educated about it in a required health class, which I took my freshman year. Every year the school focuses on national AIDS awareness day too. All this education on the subject at hand and I still made a stupid decision.
I never thought I was invincible, but I never thought HIV was in my near future either. It turns out I knew exactly who Terrance was talking about; it was my next door neighbor. Yasmin and Terrence had been sleeping together. Only my family and Yasmin’s family knew Yasmin’s little secret. Yasmin had contracted the HIV virus from an ex-boyfriend of 3 years last year. Since she has been a close friend to myself as well as my family for many years, her secret was safe with all of us. However, her problem had now became my problem. After he said what he had to say, I had absolutely no words for him. The room was so silent that you could hear a pin drop. That was the worst Friday of my life. Could this really be happening to me? I asked myself that question so many times, and the answer never changes each time I ask it. It was happening, and I couldn’t do anything about it. Although the people involved were close friends, I felt alone. I had done everything I could to be a good person, I have a 3.8 G.P.A., and I was in the process of applying to be Miss Lincoln. Putting all the pieces together in my mind, my world quickly came crashing down. Lincoln had been such a great experience for me. Lincoln University really is a big family, but it was not Lincoln that should be held responsible; it was my poor decisions. Maybe I should have been even more focused on school, instead of a guy that barely had respect for me. Just to make sure, Terrance and I called Health Services and made an appointment for Tuesday to get tested. The weekend dragged by along with Monday, but when Tuesday morning finally arrived I was sick to my stomach. It was 8:00 a.m., and I didn’t have class until 10:00. Terrence and I agreed to meet in front of Amos Hall. Amos Hall is a dorm that was not utilized this year, but it sits right behind the Heath Services building. The cold wind hit my face as I walked out of the LLC. My hands were shaking so hard, even when I put them in my jacket pockets. Terrence and I met up and began to walk into Health Services. One at a time we were called into the back where they offered rapid HIV testing. Within 20 minutes we would have our results. That was the longest 20 minutes of my life. I prayed that we were both okay, that somehow the virus was not able to enter our systems. 20 minutes quickly turned into the moment I was walking into a back room to sit with a counselor who had my results sitting on her desk. She showed me the test, and a paper stating the results. My eyes ran across the paper before the counselor could even get it out. I am HIV positive. In the blink of an eye, my life changed forever.
As the elevator angrily yelled its boisterous beeps each time it passed a different floor, I knew I was going to be late. I anxiously watched the fertile red numbers change from “3” to “2”, the elevator lazily settling on the first floor. With slumped shoulders and an exhausted sigh, I opened the door and made my way to the front steps. It was going to be the third time that I was late for French class. As I opened the door to University Hall, I quickly ran up the steps, abandoning a few along the way. The stairs screamed in agony as I made it to the second floor, my pace quickening as I approached my classroom. As Mademoiselle Jaguneau swiftly jotted down various French sentences on the smart board, I breathlessly slipped into a seat in the back of the class, my lungs fighting for any available oxygen. Mademoiselle turned around just as I was getting out my notebook. She gave me a stern look as she marked me late in her attendance book. “Bonjour. Aujourd'hui, nous allons…” was all I managed to hear as my thoughts journeyed back to the conversation that I had with my father the previous night. The anger and disappointment in his voice reverberated through my mind as I thought about the discussion that we continually had about my decision to go to a predominately Black university. “You’re making a huge mistake Dylan,” my father said as I fidgeted with the phone, my anger gradually building with each word that rang in my ear. “Dad, we’ve gone over this before. I made it clear that it’s my decision about where I choose to go to school. It’s my life and I’m old enough to make my own decisions.” “I just don’t understand why you have to go to that school,” my father said disdainfully. “You could be getting a much better education if you went to a..a...a..” “You mean a white school, right Dad?” “No, I didn’t mean that Dyl. I just want the best for you and I don’t think you’ll really get what you need going to a school that doesn’t really cater to who you are.” “And going to Syracuse like you did will?” I blurted out as I heard my father sigh heavily. “I strongly believe that you’ll be more at home with people that you’re used to being around. Syracuse would have been a great place for you. I wish you would just think about it more.” “We’re done with this conversation. I have to go do homework. I’ll talk to you later.” Ever since I made the decision to go to Lincoln, my father has been on my case about why he feels that it’s not a good fit for me. My father couldn’t wait for the day when I became an Orangeman. He constantly talked about us going to basketball games together decorated in our Syracuse regalia as we joyously cheered his alma mater to victory. My father couldn’t understand why I chose to go to Lincoln instead of going to Syracuse and why I didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of the four generations of Montgomery men that were before me. As I began to get consumed in my thoughts, I faintly heard my name being called from a distance. “Dylan? Dylan, can you please read the passage on page 75?” Mademoiselle said in her thick French accent. “Uh, oiu, Mademoiselle,” I managed to stammer as I quickly snapped out of the daze that I was in. When class was finally over, I made my way down the stairs and out of the academic building. Remnants of the light rain that ended moments before left the stairs slightly wet. I trotted down the steps, the stench of freshly laid manure perfuming the air. I had a few hours to kill before my Chemistry lab, so I decided to walk to my room. As I made my way up to aging stair of my residence hall, I hurriedly fumbled inside my pocket in search of my keys. As I placed the key in the metallic doorknob, I closely placed my ear against the door to see if my roommate was in the room. I heard no signs of him, so I unlocked the door and walked in. The pungent smell of Hot Pockets deodorized the room. Kevin must have just left for classes. As I sat down at my desk, Kevin walked into the room in a rush. “Wassup?” he said as he grabbed the FYE book he must have forgotten. “Nothing much,” I said as I opened up my laptop. “Comin’ to lunch Freckles?” “I might,” I said as I watched Kevin briefly glance at himself in the mirror. He rubbed the side of his dark brown face and traced his neat sideburns with his fingertips.
“Always wit’ the ‘I might’s,” he said as he let the door close after him. It had been weeks since the start of my first semester Lincoln. The look of confusion that seemed to follow me like a lonesome shadow was something that I was used to. As a kid, I always wondered why I seemed to be darker than the kids in all of my classes and why I never seemed to really fit in with the various complexions that surrounded me. The dull khakiness of my skin was considered too light for the Black kids and way too dark for the White kids. The freckles that nestled themselves in between the corners of my eyes always perfectly matched the blankets of freckles that covered my nose and cheeks. I always thought that it would be easier to look like my father. The insipid whiteness of his skin paired with the sleek blackness of his hair reflected very little in my appearance. I was more of my mother’s child. Her glossy hazel complexion and curly brown hair found their way into the pool of my genetics, my opaque brown eyes mirroring hers. When my mother died shortly after my seventh birthday, I lost the only person that seemed to understand what it felt like to be different. My father tried to embrace my uniqueness after my mother’s death, instilling in me that it didn’t matter what I looked like. As my awkward teenage years approached, my father never saw the point in allowing me to explore my African American heritage. My difference became a plague to him as he forced friendships between me and the kids of his country club buddies, saying that these were the kind of people that I would get me far in life. That stifling all-white suburban lifestyle left me wanting something that seemed foreign to me. I wanted to know about the side of me that my father never seemed to know about. I wanted to feel closer to the extrinsic Blackness that made up half of who I was. On the eve of the 10-year anniversary of my mother’s death, I went to visit my Grandma Ellie. The warmness in her embrace reminded me of my mother. “Oh, Dylan. I forget how much I miss you every time I see you,” she said as she sat down in the exhausted wooden chair. “I miss you too, Grandma,” I said as I sat in the chair across from hers. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen you. I bet you don’t remember me being this tall.” “You kids always seem to outgrow me,” she said with a chuckle. As we talked about school, my interest in girls, and what my plans were for my 18 th birthday, the conversation shifted to my mother. “Elsie would be so proud to see the young man that you’re growing up to be,” Grandma Ellie said as she began to reminiscence about my mother. “I see every bit of her in you. You’re ju—” The piercing blare of the phone cut off her sentence. “I’ll be right back,” she said as she slowly got up from the chair, her sluggish steps making the taupe carpet wearily moan. As Grandma Ellie began to express how happy she was to hear from a Mrs. Morris, I began to look around her living room. The cluttered mantelpiece was adorned with various pictures of family members. As I got up to get a closer look, a picture of my mother sitting on grass with a contagiously toothy smile caught my attention. On the bottom of the photo had the caption “Lincoln, 1984.” As I made my down the mantelpiece, I found my mother’s college degree neatly placed in between other photos of her. As I picked up the degree, fresh dust began to coat the ends of my fingertips. I smiled as my eyes glanced over the tight cursive reading “Elsie Diane Cane,” my mother’s smile painted across the canvas of my memory banks. Her smile never failed to trigger a complementing smile of my own that paralleled hers perfectly. After thoughts of my mother made my heart ache with the longing of her presence, Grandma Ellie walked back into the living room. I placed the degree back in its home after wiping away the remaining dust. “I’m sorry sweetie. I didn’t mean to have you waiting so long,” she said after finding her way back to her seat. “It’s okay, Grandma. I was just looking at Mom’s old stuff.” “Yeah, I find myself lookin’ at all her stuff too. Miss her somethin’ terrible,” she said as her eyes perused the mantelpiece ornamented with remnants of my mother. “Me too, me too,” I managed to say after a moment of silence. “Hey Grandma, can you tell me about Mom in her college days? I never really get to hear any of those stories.”
As Grandma Ellie started telling stories of Mom and her days at Lincoln, I longed for a sense of closeness with my mother in a way that I never had the opportunity to get. Lincoln seemed like the perfect place for me to fill the gaping hole in my life that seemed to linger after the death of my mother. Being able to feel closer to my mother and my heritage as well was something that I always wanted but never got with being raised by my dad. After hearing about my mother’s triumphant student government days and notorious parking lot parties, I knew where I needed to be after I graduated high school. It was a choice that I knew would break my father’s heart, but it would mend the cracks in mine. After sitting at my desk thinking about my decision to come to Lincoln, I got up and grabbed my jacket that was hanging on the back of my chair. I slammed the door shut, the old hinges lightly rattling. I walked down the stairs and out the lobby door. As I began to walk to the dining hall, I spotted Kevin slowly bobbing his head, his studio headphones matching perfectly with his black Adidas track suit. I sped up my pace to catch up to him. He looked up and noticed me and slowed down. “Hey Frecks. I see you finally made your way out of the room,” he said as he placed his headphones on his temples. “Yeah. I figured I would eat lunch with you and finally try to get through your thick skull that Kobe will always be better than Lebron.” “There you go, talking that white boy stuff again,” he said with a laugh. As Kevin pushed me into the door of the Caf, I knew that this is where I belonged. The essence of my mother surged through me and I smiled. I was beginning to like the idea of being Elsie’s boy.
Nella “Fuck you.” As the words slipped from my mouth, I realized I had crossed the thin line that lays in every relationship. The shock that dashed across Aaren’s chestnut face made my heart plunge to my mud-stained Converses. I didn’t mean to say it, but she knows how to hit me where it hurts. I looked into her disheartened chocolate, slight eyes and couldn’t help but leave the room. She tried to grab my arm, but she wasn’t quick enough. I finally left and made my way out to the concrete stone steps of McCauley and sat down to catch my breath and think things through. “Babe?! Who did you think you’re talking to?” shouted Aaren. I guess she was quicker down those steps than I had anticipated. Adrenaline at work probably. “Don’t yell at me in public. I damn well know who I’m talking to. I can’t believe you were talking to Rayne and lied about it! You know how I feel about that girl.” I absolutely hated when she spoke of or to Rayne. No matter what Aaren says, ex-girlfriends cannot become friends. It’s impossible to me. Plus, I don’t see “friends” making plans to have an intimate dinner and a movie date. Do you? “Come on! You know we’re just friends. It’s nothing. Now apologize and I’ll forget all about the ‘Fuck you’ thing.” Aaren retorted with a smirk lining her high cheek bones, a gift from her ancestors. She’s always smiling at me, even when she’s angry and nervous. It sends mixed signals: are you angry or playing games? I rose from my uncomfortable seat at the steps. “Forget it? No one is asking for you to forget it. I’m sick of your disrespectfulness. You are always talking to your exes, but God forbid I even text Rita. Oh then it’s World War III!” To be absolutely honest, Rita isn’t even the one she had to worry about. Over her shoulder I could see Kyah, the talented University Gossip and my biggest mistake, walking down the newly set sidewalk towards us. The last thing I need is for her to see this. So, I head to the SUB hoping the fight will end right here, right now. I can’t lose Aaren, but I need things to change. Sure enough, Aaren followed me. “You really forgot who you’re talkin’ to. I’m the girlfriend that’s been here for you through thick and thin, literally. When your dad died. Who was there? When your family found out you were gay, who did you live with? Me! I can’t believe you right now. Trust me. Rayne ain’t nothing to me, just a friend.” Aaren said as she followed me to the benches across from the semi-new royal blue and brick SUB. Of course she’s right. She’s been the only stable part of my life for the last three years, but I can’t let her know that. Not now. I want her to know that she is completely and utterly wrong. I don’t need her. “I know exactly who I’m talking to: Aaren Douglas. The girlfriend that constantly lies. The girlfriend that has a past of cheating, but won’t even admit that to herself. Stop lying to yourself Aaren. It’s really not good for your health.” I responded heatedly. Even though I was livid, I couldn’t help but notice that her midnight colored dreads lined with crimson matched perfectly with her black jeans stitched with red thread. The snugness of her jeans accentuated her statuesque hips that I longed to trace with my fingers. I can’t believe that through my anger, I am still insanely drawn to her. Aaren just shook her head. “I don’t get you sometimes. Why would I put three years into this if I was just gonna mess wit some other jawn? That don’t make any sense.” I couldn’t think of anything to say to her. How could I explain that my distrust in her was because of what I was capable of? How can I describe the sensation of guilt I get whenever she says “I love you” to me or when I see Kyah on campus? I just couldn’t. This secret is not worth me losing Aaren and her love.
Kyah There were Mrs. and Mrs. Penny Perfect in front of the glossy windows of the SUB. I swear, if they weren’t gay, they’d be the epitome of Barbie and Ken with the Jeep and Barbie Dream House included. They. Irk. My. Soul. Everyone thinks they’re just so effin’ perfect, but little do they know that they’re far from that. Months ago, during the Homecoming concert with Big Sean and Wale, my girl Lora introduced me to Nella. Nella must’ve been a little tipsy because she was all over me whenever she was out of Aaren’s sight. Later that night, after she got rid of Aaren of course, she made it to my after party with my friends in the New Building. When her soft, honey flavored lips touched mine, I knew she should be my girl. But since then, she pretends I don’t even exist. As I walked past Nella and Aaren, I heard Nella say, “Stop lyin to yourself Aaren. It’s really not good for ya health.” I knew I’d have to listen to this. I knew Lora and Monica were gonna wanna know what’s going on between those two. “I don’t get you. Why would I put three years into this if I was just gonna mess wit some other chick? You don’t make any sense.” responded Aaren harshly, as she shook her head in disappointment. Trouble in paradise! Which is surprising since I’ve never heard of them raise their voices even an octave at each other. In spite of the storm clouds of gnats, I’m gonna go sit at the entrance bench and see what’s up. A little part of me hopes Nella tells Aaren about me, just to see what would happen. “Probably because I’m an awesome lay.” That I hope she is. “Really? Really? You’re gonna say that to me? If that’s the case then, why not end this and just mess around?” Nella’s eyes became as large as Lincoln’s biggest football player as Aaren just squinted down at her. Wow, Aaren finally grew some balls. She’s always been the “Yes, baby”, “No, baby” person in their relationship, from what I’ve heard of course. “Tha-Tha-That’s not what I meant.” “Then what did you mean exactly? You’re so bi-polar. One minute you’re calm, cool, and collected and the next second you’re off your rocker. What’s wrong with you?” “Nothing. I just want Rayne out of your life.” “Well that ain’t happenin cap’in” As those words were dispersed into the air, it seemed Nella didn’t know what the hell to do. Her bottom lip poked out while her cheeks burned bright and her eyes screamed in anger. Nella grabbed Aaren’s hand and pulled her to the corner of the building that’s hidden from the entrance. It was probably because she saw me gawking at them. I know she wants to pretend I don’t subsist, but I do. Maybe she shouldn’t have come over that night. Quietly, I heard Nella say, “Don’t talk like that to me in front of people.” “Shut! Up! Don’t change the subject. Do you want to end this or not? I need to know.” In an instant, I saw Nella march away from the corner where they were talking and make her way towards the top of the U where the old Freddy D statute used to stand. Afterwards, Aaren slowly sauntered out and walked into the SUB. As she pressed the silver handicap button to open the door, she glanced at me and said, “Women.” with a smirk on her face and shaking her head slowly, but comically. I guess for now my wish hasn’t come true. I really wondered what had provoked that fight and if or how those two were gonna fix the damaged that had been done. Oh well, the café was about to close, and I had told Monica and Lora I’d meet them for lunch.
Aaren I really didn’t expect Nella to show up at my room. She was definitely supposed to be in Art History I until 2 o’clock. I ain’t see any harm in oovooing Rayne. I planned on talkin to her for just a little bit and Nella never knowing the difference. But with my luck, would that work? Of course not. “Who is that?” Nella softly said. I didn’t even hear my door open. Her casual tone scared me half to death. “Huh? Wha-What are you doing here?” I quickly looked at Rayne’s wide ocean blue eyes on the screen and slammed my laptop shut. I’m not sure how long Nella had been standing there or what she exactly heard. “Don’t play games. Just answer the question.” The calmness in her voice was mirrored on her sweet n’ low coffee colored skin. It kinda scared me. I know how she felt about Rayne, but honestly me and Rayne are strictly friends. Yea, we fooled around six years ago. Come on! It’s six years ago, we were 16 years old. It’s not that serious. Apparently, Nella doesn’t agree. “You know it’s Rayne. I don’t even see why you gotta ask. You saw her.” As I spoke, Nella leisurely walked over to my cluttered bed, jumped onto the elevated mattress, and laid on my Eagle’s comforter. The bed is undeniably messy, but it fits in with the rest of my room. Although the bed is so chaotic, I couldn’t help but see how Nella’s shapeliness was heighten by the tight black tank and loose jeans sitting low on her hips. “Ugh. Why must you talk to her? What does she bring to your life? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.” God do I hate when she asks a question and then answers it herself. “I don’t question you bout your friends, so don’t question me bout mines. Mind ya business.” Damn, I shouldn’t have said that. Nella sat up as if someone had shocked her in the butt. “Mind my business? What? Maybe you should pay more attention to your business then! Maybe if you did, then…” “Then what?” “Nothing. Nevermind.” I know she’s been hiding something from me. I know what it is, but I’ve put too much time into this thing. From what I heard, it was just a kiss between her and Kyah. Why someone would feel so guilty over a kiss, who knows. Maybe because she was irrefutably out-of-her-mind wasted. Plus, Kyah doesn’t have shit on me. Nella knows what she has with me. I’m the whole package. I got up from my muddled mess of a desk and walk over to my girlfriend. Her raven eyes pierce my psyche every time. Her brown freckles dot her lean cheeks like stars in the sky. No matter how annoyed she makes me, I can never not smile at her. She’s just so beautiful to me. I kissed her velvety lips and start kissing her checks and neck. Suddenly she shoved me away. I thought this would fix everything. Damn. “Aaren, stop. This is not the time to be kissing on me. You‘ve really pissed me off with talking to Rayne. Get away from me.” “Girl, don’t play ya self. You know you want and need me.” In an instant Nella is off the bed and staring up at me seriously. Her eyes are glazed over in anger. “Fuck you.”