Pride, A Short Story

Pride%2C+A+Short+Story

Tamiyah Fearrington, Staff Writer

Aaliyah Taylor is a junior at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, Georgia. Aaliyah is also gay. She has a huge crush on a girl named Jada. Aaliyah knows Jada is gay, but might be in a relationship. Her friend Iman insists on Aaliyah telling Jada, but whenever they speak it is always awkward. For now she has to keep this a secret. To tell the truth, Aaliyah does not know who she truly is anymore. She has no idea where the feelings that she is feeling came from. If she tells the people she loves the most, they might treat her differently. Many people look down on the LGBTQ+ community. She is scared that her life would be ruined if she tells at least her brother. Her friend Iman is the only one who knows; as a matter of fact he knew before she knew. Aaliyah is extremely scared. She does not know if she would be safe if other people knew. Many people are dying because they are attracted to the same gender, identify as the opposite gender, or just want to be loved. Love and anxiety go hand-in-hand. Love is love. Deep down Aaliyah feels this, but does not know if it’s true. Aaliyah doesn’t believe she even has pride. 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Aaliyah currently staring into space as her History Teacher, Mr. Pierce lectures the class about Fredrick Douglass. Mr. Pierce is a tall man with a bushy afro. Aaliyah can’t wait for 2:20, when the bell rings. After school, she and her older brother Deontre are going roller skating at Cascade in West Atlanta. Deontre is currently attending Morehouse and studying economics. When the bell rings, Mr. Pierce asks her to stay a few minutes. Knowing Mr. Pierce it must be serious. 

           Ms. Taylor, he says. 

          Yes Mr Pierce? 

          You’re failing my class with 58! exclaims Mr. Pierce. 

          I know I know, lied Aaliyah. 

She obviously did not know. Mr. Pierce then begins to explain how smart and talented she is and that she needs to apply herself more. Aaliyah stares at the clock thinking Is he done? Mr. Pierce soon realizes she’s not listening and tells her to leave. Deontre is waiting for her when she exits the front door of the school. 

          What took you so long? He asked, 

          Mr. Pierce, groans Aaliyah as she entered his G-Wagon. Deontre, who had Mr. Pierce as a senior, completely understands her. 

          He’s still annoying. 

          Yep, says Aaliyah. 

Deontre turns on the bluetooth, searches through his playlist, and puts on New Edition’s “Can You Stand The Rain,” his favorite song. ‘Cause I need somebody who will stand by me, Through the. good times and bad times. She will always, always be right there. Sunny days, everybody loves them. Tell me baby can you stand the rain?. Storms will come. This we know for sure (This we know for sure). Can you stand the rain. Deontre sings alone. 

 

When they pull into the driveway, their mom Tina is standing there. Aaliyah assumes Mr. Pierce called Tina about her failing grade. 

           Young lady, Tina says to Aaliyah. 

           Hey mama

When they enter the house, Aaliyah puts her bag down and follows her mom into the kitchen. Once seated her mom places a stack of papers in front of her. To Aaliyah´s surprise, Mr. Pierce did not call. The papers were for the upcoming ACT. 

           I picked it up from your school, Tina says. 

          Thanks ma. 

Buzzzz. Aaliyah looked at her to phone to see a text from her friend Iman. 

         Did you tell them? he asks. 

         No, not yet, Aaliyah replies. 

Aaliyah promised Iman that she would finally come out to her family.

          Mom I have something to tell you something, she nervously says. 

         What is it baby. 

At that moment, Aaliyah froze. I’m not ready. She says. 

     Uh, never mind. She gets up from the seat and proceeds to her bedroom. Her ringtone, Kehlani ́s “Honey” starts to play, she answers. Iman is on the other line. 

        Did you tell her yet?

       No!

       Why? 

       It’s time.

      It’s not, I can’t yet. 

      Fine, are you and Deontre still coming to Cascade?

     Yeah. 

She hangs up. Aaliyah walks over to her Summer Walker poster to fix it. She then walks out of her room, into the living room and over to the speaker. She puts on “Playing Games” by Summer Walker and sits down. Buzzzzzz. At that moment she checks her phone to see that Jada posted on Instagram. Without thinking she comments with the heart eye and fire emojis. 

         Aaliyah, you ready? Deontre asked. 

         Yeah, I’ll meet you in the car. 

Once in the car, Deontre pulls out of the driveway onto Fountain Drive, right onto Morris Brown Dr. and left on M.L.K. Jr. Drive. When the time hits 7:00, they pull into the parking lot. Even though Cascade does not open until 7:30, D promised to open up. Around 7:15, the first groups of skaters start to arrive. Among them is Iman and his sister Teyana, Deontre ́s girlfriend. 

 

At 8:00, Aaliyah and Iman decided to start roller skating. They glided to Montell Jordans “This Is How We Do It.” Midway through the song Aaliyah hears her name. It’s Johnny. The only white kid at the school. He wears a Thrasher T-Shirt and blue Airforce Ones. 

           Sup, said Johnny. 

           Hey Johnny, Aaliyah and Iman say in unison. 

      Wanna skate together? Johnny likes Aaliyah, but because he does not know about her sexuality, he assumes he has a chance with her. But like always she turns him down. 

          I’m not interested birdbrain.

          You good? asked Iman. 

        Yeah, I guess I am just tired of whispering, and pretending that I do not like him, which I do. It’s just that I don’t like guys that way in general, she says. 

      Softly Iman says, Then come out of the closet. Looking around to make sure no one heard, Aaliyah punches Iman. 

           It’s not that easy, ok. My mom might freak the hell out if i tell her. 

          What about Deontre? Iman asked. 

          What about him? 

          He’s your brother. You guys are like this. Iman then proceeded to make a hand signal.

          I’m going to tell him. 

          When? Iman demanded. 

         None of your damn business, that’s when. 

         Ok, backed off Iman.

        All I’m saying is I will always be by your side, she says, smiling through her teeth.  

        Thank you. 

 

The pair exits the rink and decides to sit down and eat, glancing at Deontre and Teyana as they skate. 

         Look who’s here, Iman says as he motions towards the door. Sincere, Jada’s on and off again girlfriend walks in the door. Sincere is of mixed race. Mexican and Black. Tall and skinny, Sincere is the point guard of the basketball team. 

       Damn, what is she doing here? 

        I do not know, Aaliyah. 

As soon Iman says that, Jada walks through the door. She’s wearing a plaid jacket and gray jeans. 

Under her breath, Aaliyah says beautiful. 

And you don’t know what love is

If you don’t put up a fight

You don’t know what love is

If you don’t stay up all night

Boy and you don’t know what love is

If you’re too good to call a million times

And you say you know what love is

But I swear you never seen it in your life,.

 

Her whole body freezes. The only thing Aaliyah focuses on is the Jada and music, but mainly Jada. 

 

       Liyah, your staring. And drooling. 

Iman takes a napkin and wipes the side of Aaliyah’s mouth. The last thing Aaliyah knew Sincere and Jada were on a ̈ break .” They walk past Aaliyah and Iman and sit at a table close by. Deontre and Teyana walk to the table. 

        D, can I talk to you for a minute? 

        Deontre looks concerned and immediately says, Yeah. 

     They walk over to the entrance, since it is less crowded. Without hesitation, Aaliyah blurts out, I ’m gay. 

        Deontre stands there frozen. 

        Deontre? 

        Finally he opens his mouth but nothing comes out. 

       Please don’t be mad. 

       This time when he opens his mouth, words come out. 

      I’m not. 

He then hugs her. They both start crying. From the seat, Iman starts to smile and yells out.

      How long have you felt like this?  asks Deontre. 

      Since high school started, Aaliyah says. 

     I’m scared. What if people stop liking me, she says as she wipes the tears from her eyes. 

     There is nothing to be scared about. If they don’t like you that’s their problem. 

      When they walk back to the table he asks, Does mom know? 

     No, should I tell her? 

      Jada walked by the table. Of course, Aaliyah  stared at her as she walked. 

      Aaliyah, snap out of it. Iman shook Aaliyah back into reality. 

     What? Aaliyah says smiling. 

     You are a mess, you know that. 

     Aaliyah then punches him again and says, Shut up. 

     Fine, I’m going to get some nachos, said Iman.

 Iman gets up and walks away. When he comes back, he has a huge plate of nachos with cheese dripping from his mouth. He places it in the center of the table.
      I’m going to finish roller skating, 

Aaliyah gets up and starts walking towards the rink. The next thing she knows, she is on the floor.

My bad     

It was Sincere. 

      All good. 

Sincere reaches out her hand for Aaliyah to take it. 

     Thank you. Aaliyah says. 

     No problem, just be careful next time. 

When she picks up her bag, Iman is standing next to her and asks, Did you just bump into your crushes girlfriend? 

     Yeah

 

At 10:30 the four decide to leave. Deontre drops Teyana and Iman at home. 

      I thought they were coming back to the house. 

Almost immediately Deontre says, Tey, isn’t feeling well. 

At about 10:45, they pull into the driveway. The lights in the house are still on. Once the car comes to a stop, Deontre does not unlock it. 

      Dad’s home. 

     He’s home?!? Why does she keep letting him come back? 

Their dad, Omar, was convicted and sentenced to 10 years for killing a man after he mistook him for a thief. When Omar was released from prison 6 months ago, Tina promised to leave him. When they walk in the door, their parents are sitting on the couch. 

    We’re home, says Deontre as they walk through the front door. Omar immediately gets up from the couch when Aaliyah angrily runs up the stairs. 

      Aaliyah wait, Tina says as she tries to catch up to her. 

     Let her go ma, she’s fine. 

As Deontre says this, he does not move his eyes off his dad. The whole room is tense and quiet. Then Deontre speaks up. 

    Why are you here? Why is he here mom? 

Both Tina and Omar are afraid to answer. 

    Look I know your angry at me for what I did, answers Omar. 

Deontre, who is really angry, screams, You killed an innocent man in our house! Don’t you understand? 

From her room, Aaliyah realizes that things might get worse and feels that the time is now to tell how she feels. At the top of the stairs, Aaliyah is seen with tears rolling down her face. 

    I have something to say. 

Deontre opens his mouth, but Aaliyah raises her hand signaling him to stop. 

   What is it Babygirl? Omar says. 

Aaliyah stands there and says, “I …Im… gay.” 

Omar and Tina stand there frozen solid. 

   Oh.

 

Later that night, Aaliyah and Deontre remain in Deontre’s room. They sit on his bed and watch Menace ll Society. For a long time they sit there quietly. Aaliyah is the first one to speak. 

Why didn’t she tell us he was coming? This is not how I wanted the night to go, Aaliyah groaned as she paused the movie. 

    Aaliyah everything’s fine. He is probably leaving in the morning and not coming back until next Christmas or something. Like he always does, Deontre says as he tries to reassure her. Knock knock. Their mom, Tina enters the room. 

    Are y’all alright? she asks. They did not answer. 

    I’m sorry I never told you guys he was coming. She then looks at Aaliyah. 

   Aaliyah, I love you, I want you to know that. 

She starts crying. Pretty soon all three are crying. 

    When is he leaving? Aaliyah asks. 

   In the morning.

 

The next day is Atlanta Pride, which is held in Piedmont Park. Aaliyah and Iman first planned to go last month, but after what happened last night, Tina, Deontre, and Teyana want to come in support of Aaliyah. Aaliyah realizes that even if there are people who do not support her sexual orientation, her family and close friends will always support her no matter what. She also realizes that the LGBTQ+ community is her family as well. That morning she posted the pride flag on her Instagram and wrote a lengthy paragraph explaining her decision to come out, and to her surprise 400 people liked the post and commented really positive things. One person in particular was Jada. Aaliyah has never had as much fun as she has that day.. She is able to see people from all walks of life celebrate together. She becomes part of a community of people, who go through life on their own terms. It makes her happy. She has found her Pride.