“What fray was here? O tell me not for I have heard it all…” from Romeo and Juliet
Sometimes, he is simply a heart. Muscle, blood, a drum-drum, pounding faster and faster. There is no personality, conscience, regrets, values, fears, memories. Only the blood.
You got me f****ed up, brah, gonna talk all that mess and then not do nothing. Let’s do this, n*****. I ain’t scary. What you gone do?
Oh shit, brah, that’s my principal.
Sometimes, she is simply a pair of eyes. Small. Brown. Like her. They are full, though, those eyes, full of all the hope, love, compassion, forgiveness, and mercy any child could ever want to see in another human being. She knows her eyes show emotions she used to wish for in others—and never received. So her eyes must take action.
The day begins like any other. The sun rises as always. The sky is blue. Brown leaves fall from trees. Teenagers giggle and chatter over soft drinks and cinnamon rolls. Teachers open classroom doors and pass out assignments. The haunted hallway is ghostless.
And then, the crowds. A human chain. Handcuffs. Boys running through the campus. Locked doors. Heartbeats.
They call him the Scorpion because he is skinny and mean. He stings them daily with his glares and whistling. He wears his color proudly but not blatantly: shoelaces, piping on a shirt. They hate his good looks, his pretty girlfriend, the way adults like him, how the younger kids look up to him, his good grades. They are overweight and won’t graduate due to poor grades and low credits. They don’t have girlfriends. They are not popular, not even with their fellow gang members. They hate him because he is everything they wish they could be, everything they never will be. They are going to crush the Scorpion. He is the reason they are going to risk it all.
Ms. Galindo carries a secret in her heart. She carries several, some belonging to the children she supervises, most of them her own, with the heaviest being the secret of the summer. So many days and nights spent hoping her life might end. But this day, she carries this secret down the hallway. She runs on small feet down the hallway, outside where a large crowd follows one boy. She pleads with him. He shakes off her hand. They make their way down the hall. Another boy turns. There is an awful moment. The boys have seconds to decide whether they will put hands on one another, whether they will put hands on her. In those seconds, the secret unfolds within her heart and mind. She remembers her anguish but mostly she remembers her desperate desire to be whole, healed, free of pain, to be alive. She recognizes that she has endured pain so she could be standing here, at this moment, with these boys.
They choose not to fight.