The Eleventh of April

Jaimy Reynolds (3rd place. Creative Nonfiction. Spring 2012 Writing Contest)
 
Sounds of the alarm strike six to the mystery faces in the traffic mix.
 
I approach a light that turns yellow. A quick decision to be made to race on through, or to slow down with patience. I’m more in tune with the journey rather than the destination, so I come to a halt and glance at my surroundings. The song that plays could be the soundtrack to the movie outside my car.
 
A man painted the color of starvation wears a face that tells it all. Those stopped at the red light focus straight ahead as if they are blind to the homeless man’s sign. He stands at the corner of the deliciously disguised poison trap of fast food burgers and fries. Quick meal joints on every corner. Pedestrians wait for the metro to arrive. One looks alive while the other has a look of just trying to get by.
 

A bird flies over a man pumping gas who looks over at the homeless man’s desperate cry. I wonder if he is thinking, “Why lie? He’ll probably go spend the money on getting high.” Welcome to missing the point of sharing. What is wrong with just being caring? You never know, you could be giving to an angel. I see a man throw his trash out the window, like his respect was on reduce mode. Or maybe he likes to feed the animals. I picture what his room is like. Perhaps he sets up traps to kill the rats. It really doesn’t have to be like that. Just throw it in the trash. Besides, it affects us all–meaning you’re not alone. I hope it’s just a phase… My blinker sings its song left and right as I weave in and out through and under the streets designed like a maze. I wonder who is saved, who is a slave in their own mind, and who speeds in a race against time.
 
What gang of birds will get out of their comfort zone in the sky and come down to earth to pick up the trash that the man threw out just moments ago? What if it was meant to be thrown out for the homeless man who does not beat them to the punch? Never count out the out-of-nowhere rats who might be the first to attack.
 
The light turns green and so on to the next scene, to the place where I was forever told to attend, as if there was no other way: the world of college. The place where I’m learning while climbing deeper into debt just to be able to go. Several of my coworkers tell me that there are no guarantees on where you end up after receiving your degree. In class it’s the same, paying attention and then eventually wondering off into thought… What if we were all born color blind? How would the world be different than it is today? Or what if our government were to work the way ants govern themselves? Ants form highways and communities where there is no divide between rich and poor. The ant seems to understand the ultimate method of working together.
 
A daydreamer I am, indeed, as I proceed to the next destination. The clock strikes six and once again the mystery faces in the traffic mix. Several flowers of remembrance placed around a wooden cross stare at me from the side of the road: the main reason I hardly speed. It brings me back to the day I lost control of the wheel and collided head-on with the cement wall at high speed. My head and chest smashed into the steering wheel column… Houston, we have a problem. What a tragedy for my family if this had been the end of me. With no breath to breathe I thought of a book I had finished reading, The prayer of Jabez, a story on the power of prayer. So I put it to the test: God help me and put this pain to rest. Within seconds I felt my pain ease. The paramedics and police officers were in disbelief as I stood next to them all in one piece, completely aware of what had occurred.
 
You never know when your loved ones’ time is up which makes me call my people regularly. Don’t let the death of a family member become the slow mental death of you. It helps if you were the one who wasn’t too busy to call.
 
I was lucky to have an angel as my mother. I could go on for hours of how she is like no other, but I’ll just text her for now to tell her that I love her. Before the left turn to touch base with my little sister. She is out of her comfort zone in terms of accepting any donations for overdue bills and lets me know how it makes her feel. I turn down the music to one of my favorite tracks to hear the kiddos in the back. They are free while their mother is the opposite of where she wants to be–the apple of the single parent’s struggle and stress didn’t fall far from the tree.
 
I yawn from lack of sleep as I pull up next to a biracial couple in a jeep which makes me to think about my two creators. Yesterday a woman spoke to me in Spanish, later in the same day a man in slang. “What are you?” is something I’ve been asked ever since I was the height of a tall man’s knee. My father is black and my mother is white, which left me all the colors in between.
 
On to the place that can take up most of our day, where we are slow to punch in and quick to punch out. The place which gets more of our attention than our own families. The place where quotas are pressed to achieve and meetings are held to discuss how we need to go above and beyond to increase production. Whom am I making richer? Is this how it was meant to be, or have we just fallen into a crafty system out of which there is no way? What do I have to do in order to change my situation? Has the majority of us become robots?
 
By the time my shift is over the highways back home are empty while the people are sound asleep. Although I spent my whole day in places I didn’t want to be, I understand that life’s a journey and it’s about learning as I go. I must sacrifice right now in order to have the life that I desire in the future. The process and winding down is in effect. Before it’s time to put the eleventh of April in the books, i jot down a summary of my day. Then, of course, I pray. Lord guide the way. Two hours of dreaming go by fast.
 
Once again, sounds of the alarm strike at six…the mystery faces in the traffic mix. 
 
 
 
 
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