Monday, September 10, 2007

Act of Grace

About three years ago I started a novel loosely based on an incident that happen in Ann Arbor, Michigan in which a young woman decided to live up to her values. My novel has a more paranormal, spiritual edge. For a long time I ignored beginning this story until one night a voice in my dream shouted out the first line.


Here is the question the people in my hometown of Vigilant, Michigan want answered: Why did I, Grace Johnson, an African-American high school senior, an honor student, take two bullets to protect the life of the white supremacist jackass, Jonathan Gilmore? I haven’t really ventured to explain why I saved Mr. Gilmore’s life. Those who love me already understand, for them it is enough for me to say the ancestors made me do it. However, other folks, especially other folks of color, feel I need to testify to them and God, in that order, about why I have committed racial treason.

Mr. Gilmore was supposed to have died the day at the Racial Justice Rally, instead I got in the way and now people are either calling me an ignorant hero or hissing that I’m a double -stuffed Oreo bitch. Actually I’m neither, but I realize now that one of the reasons why people’s attitudes about me are as thick and nasty as dried snot is because there is a critical lack of information about my motives. Only trivial and bizarre evidence of my mission of justice exists. If it were up to me I wouldn’t say anything, I would just leave everyone in the dark and go on about my business. However, the voices of the ancestors tell me I do owe others an account of my story as an example of the true meaning of my name. Now, I can blow people off, I can tell folks what part of hell to go to and give them detailed directions on how to get there. The ancestors, however, cannot be ignored. They can’t be told to mind their own ethereal business because we, the living, are their business.

This morning they made Dr. Davies, my hospital appointed psychiatrist, tell me that if I write in a journal about my experiences and observations as if I’m talking to others, especially to Mr. Gilmore, it will speed up the process of my mental and physical healing.

“Writing a journal,” he said, his blue eyes reflecting some other soul besides his “will stop the fires of anxiety and anger from blackening your dreams and moods.”

If Dr. Davies had been himself he would have been appalled at the New Age dreamy psychobabble poetry coming out of his mouth, but of course he wasn’t himself. Their words on his pale-dry lips were a direct order to press my pen to notebook paper. Pain and suffering have made my hindsight telescopic, so let’s begin at the true beginning, a breath to prime my memory, “Rise, story, rise.”

Copyright 2007 Karen L. Simpson

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