"Song Lyric Prompt for NaNo '04"
(c) 2011, 2004 by Savannah J. Frierson
Song Lyric - 'The worst is over now and we can breathe again. I wanna hold you high, you steal my pain away...' ~Seether and Amy Lee, "Broken"
His hand was sweaty, yet impossibly tight around hers as they ran across the quad towards an ill-located patch of trees…well, ill-located under normal circumstances.
The riot had been a long time coming, danced around and implicated in veiled words…even the looks between the students on campus held a promise of something--but no one knew it would be like this.
This was their own personal Watts, the explosion of frustration, anger and hurt unleashed by a people fed up with being second class; the searching for the explanation why their leader—their savior was shot to death on a Tennessee balcony six months ago…everyone thought they’d avoided such violence, such blatant disrespect of the status quo that many people—his people—fell into their safe, insular bubble of small-town Southern life.
But other people—her people—had had enough. This new generation would not kowtow to intimidation and threats. Dogs and water hoses didn’t scare them, at least not as much as the thought of being unfree did, and the well of patience had been overflowing long before now.
Yes, this clash was long overdue.
She stumbled over a hidden rock but he pulled her along, telling her they were almost there. The trees’ branches beckoned them, ready to ensconce them in their natural sanctuary. They’d reached their oasis, but he didn’t stop until they were well on the other side, at the farthest extremity from the Armageddon across the yard.
A gunshot sounded and she jumped. He leaned against the tree and brought her tight against him, hoping his arms would shield her from the ugliness they heard. It was hard to believe they were on opposite sides of the confrontation, right before the detonation. It was hard to believe they were such close friends in their single-digit years, he protecting her from hurtful words and teasing shoves.
Fifteen years later, he was doing the same. Looking across that invisible line, that arbitrary line, made him realize he didn’t like where he stood. He didn’t like being a physical representation of her unseen, deep-seeded oppression. His place was beside her, behind her, around her—not in front, and certainly not above. She’d looked at no one but him during the face-off, as if trying to reconcile the man before her with the boy she used to know.
The boy who promised to protect her always.
The riot’s noise was growing faint, and soon there was tense silence. His arms tightened around her, and he rested his chin atop her head. She burrowed into him, squeezing his arms around his middle. It was a familiar embrace, full of the childhood innocence that sheltered them from “the way things were;” but now there was a new feeling, a more profound aura.
It was the embrace of the way things could become.