“Avery, does your dad yell at your mom?” I asked.
“Heck no Johnny, why do you think he would do that?” he replied.
“I was just curious.”
Avery is my best friend. Has been since first grade. It’s a Saturday morning. We are sitting on the bench at the local the high school football field surrounded by empty bleachers. We come here often, just the two of us. Usually on mornings during football season, pretending to be members of the senior high football team. The knees of our jeans are grass stained. The football is beat up from the few seasons we have played both here and other spots around our south Louisiana town. I slowly stand up take a few steps onto the football field and look up into the sky.
I turn to Avery and ask, “What are you going to be when you grow up?”
A smile comes across his face, his bright smile accented by his black skin. He nods his head and says “That’s easy man, I am going to play football. Not just high school man but college football too. Number twenty-seven Avery Etienne. Yeah man, that’s me!”
I knew this to be true. Although we are four years away from high school, Avery has been dreaming of this as long as I have known him. We are opposites. He is black, I am white. He’s athletic, I am not. He comes from a large family, I am an only child. He lives on the black side of town while I live on the white side. I know whats going on around us. My father doesn’t like my friend Avery because he is black. He has warned me about inviting him over. This hurts me. Avery’s dad likes me. I have been over to play at their house often. Avery never questions why I have never invited him over. Does he know why? Does he know my father hates black people? My heart would break if he found out. We never speak of our color difference, but I think of it often. Some day that talk will come up, I just know it. What do I say? Will he still be my friend? What will he think of my father? I need to purge this from my mind. But I can’t!
“Hey Johnny! What’s going on man, you are just staring into space?” Avery says to me. “Wake up dude! He claps his hands as he stands next to me. You’re in dreamland man.”
“Sorry Avery, just thinking.”
“Bout what dude?
“I don’t know Avery, I just don’t know.”
“You don’t know what Johnny?” .
“Ah, I don’t know how good LSU will be the rest of the season” is all I can stutter. “You know what I mean dude.”
“Naw man, they will be alright. It’s early in the season man”
Avery is speaking but I don’t hear a word. My mind is not on football. My mind is on him. Our friendship. Is this the moment I tell him? I can’t.
“You get that Johnny!” Avery said with a smile.
He knows I haven’t heard a word. He’s a great friend. I have others, all white though. But there is no doubt he is the one I am closest to. I only hope he thinks the same. “Hey man, are we best friends?” I ask him.
“What kind of question is that?”
“You’re out there today Johnny!” Avery says with that smile. “To answer your question. Yes. Let’s get out of here. I need to get home before eleven.”
So we walk out the stadium side by side. We reach our bikes on the concrete path that leads to the street. We both have banana seat bikes, but his has the cool ram horn-shaped handle bars. Mine is yellow, his is red. We ride out, he turns left and I will turn right.
“Later man'”Avery says as he rides away. ” Give me a call after lunch, ok!”
“Will do man!” I yell back to him.
This story is fiction. I cringe to post this..but I have had this story on my mind for a while. Obviously it’s not finished. I just wanted to put this out there.
Feedback is appreciated.
Till we meet again. Good Day.
Mind of Shoo