“Faster, faster, faster” she screamed, looking up into the cloudy sky as my arms began to weaken and my mind drifted to the day I received the news. “Why” I began to sob aloud, something I promised I would never do. I abruptly brought the chair to a halt and fell before Colleen. I looked up and although my eyes were flooded with tears, I was able to to see her smile. I always considered it infectious. I guess somethings never change.
Colleen and I have been friends, well as far back as I can remember. In fact we are more like sisters. Her mother and my mother were childhood friends, so quite naturally I refer to her as Auntie Cleo. Auntie Cleo was pregnant with Colleen six months before my mom became pregnant with me. Auntie Cleo changed my diapers and my mom changed Colleen’s diapers. Given we live in the same neighborhood of Dorchester, not very far from where our parents grew up, we see each other every day: at school, after-school when we head to the Boys and Girls Club and on weekends at Kwow Kwong School in Chinatown where we both started taking Mandarin lessons at two. I could never imagine life without Colleen. We shared the same clothes, finish each other’s sentence, and know every little secret about each other.
I didn’t need an alarm clock, the pebbles at my window let me know it was time for school and Colleen was outside. Like every morning I would stick my head out and yell, “Girl, you gonna break my window one of these days.”
“Persia, hurry up down,” Colleen said in her raspy voice followed by her signature laugh and great big smile. I quickly dressed and walked outside to meet my best friend.
“I was thinking about that party we got invited to the other day at school,” said Colleen.
“So?”, We have that huge history test we both studied really hard for today for 4th period.” I replied.
“Come on Persia, you know how much I like Chris, he’ll be there and I think this is a perfect way to introduce myself,” she replied confidently.
“We can’t skip school, not today at least.-- what’s gotten into you? We can’t go to that party,” I said.
“Please, please, please, let’s play hooky just this one time” she begged.
“Do it for me, I promise I’ll do whatever you want,” she said.
After contemplating whether to go to school or to the party, I just wanted her to be happy. “Off to the party then,” I said only a little excited.
“YES!” Colleen screamed.
As we arrived to the party it was filled with familiar faces. I was sure we would get into trouble, once the school would realize all the popular people were out today. Soon, Collen spotted Chris, the star basketball player, who she had her eye on for months. I told her to forget about him long ago, as Auntie Cleo would not let her date until she graduated from high school and she meant that.
“Persia, I’ll be right back. I see Chris and he’s all alone. I think this is the perfect time for me to make a move,” Colleen said.
“Be careful, and good luck,” I said.
I walked over to get some fruit punch and as soon as I turned around my best friend had already been able to make him laugh. I didn’t want to be creepy so I soon started to dance as a recognizable song came on. I saw that Colleen and Chris too had been doing the same. They actually looked really good together but I wasn’t ready to let my friend lose focus and get all caught up in a basketball star who everyone had the hearts for. I eased my way between the two of them and shared, can I have this dance. Colleen laughed and said, “Persia I promise to dance with you after this song. “It’s the first slow one, you understand” she said, while blinking and flashing a big kool-aid smile. I backed away, while extending my pinkie and Collen stating, “smile Persia.” I quickly used the bathroom and when I exited, I noticed a couple of guys with hoodies on in the corner. They must have just arrived and I wondered why they still had on sweaters over their head although the room was booming with heat. I couldn’t make out if they were staring at Colleen or Chris but before I knew it someone pulled out a gun. Shots were fired.. Everyone began to scream and run for cover. My mind was racing, I hid behind a cabinet fixture calling out Colleen's name. Everything felt like it was happening so quickly. People were tripping and the sound of glass was heard falling to the floor. Soon the sounds of sirens could be heard approaching. Within minutes, the police and ambulance were there. Someone was being put into the ambulance. Where was Colleen, I know she wouldn’t leave without me? Suddenly, I saw Chris talking to the police. I ran over and asked him where was Colleen. He shared, she was inside the ambulance. I was lost for words, what was I going to tell my mother? Wait, why was Colleen in the ambulance? Chris stated, “she’s been shot.” I screamed and ` pounded on him. The police pulled me back and informed me to call my parents.
We had all gone up to the hospital together. Colleen was shot in the neck. After what felt like an eternity a doctor came out and shared she was going to make it through. He then informed us, she was paralyzed from the neck down. Mommy kept yelling out, “no say, it ain’t so” and Auntie Cleo sobbed like members of a church congregation when the pastor reaches deep into their soul and they know life will be different from this point forward. I on the other hand couldn’t cry. I backed away wide eyed and ran out of the hospital.
Six months later at the park.
“Faster, faster, faster” Colleen screamed, as I continued to spin her around in her chair. She loved for me to spin her. Life has been so different since the she was shot. We no longer go to the same school as Collen is at a special school for students with disabilities and that has more handicap accessible features. I miss hanging out they way we use to.
“Faster, faster, faster” she screamed, looking up into the cloudy sky as my arms began to weaken and my mind drifted to the day I received the news. “Why” I began to sob aloud, something I promised I would never do. I abruptly brought the chair to a halt and fell before Colleen. I looked up, and although my eyes were flooded with tears, I was able to to see her smile. I always considered it infectious. I guess somethings never change. If she could see smile at the world, I should be able to smile knowing I still have my friend. I promise to never cry.