The following is a fictional account reflecting the possible fears of many minority populations.
12 minutes to curfew.
It’s almost curfew, I just need to cross Main Street. One hand slips from the handle bar and I check for my red identification card hanging from my lanyard. The only job I could get was across town, a few miles into the Green Zone.
As I pedaled harder, I could see the city change block by block. The houses and store fronts got just a bit dirtier, dingier, and overall just more worn down as I get closer to the gate. The yards just a bit more unkempt with each passing street. I’ve seen the other zones before, but the green zone always looks the best. People come on from the Red, Orange, and Yellow Zones to work here. Which must be really lucky for the people who get to live in the Green Zone.
I found a place to work in the Green Zone, at a small café as a waiter. Mr. Smith was kind enough to hire me. He even gives me a clean white shirt and apron each day. He says my clothes don’t fit the image of his restaurant.
9 minutes to curfew.
Everyone seems so pleasant and polite. My parents tell me not to believe it, that I’m too young to know. Even I can remember it wasn’t always like this. There used to not be zones. But now everything is separated. I heard a saying once, “The grass is greener on the other side.” It seems that the only side that I’ve seen to have any grass is here. Maybe that’s why they call it that, the Green Zone. Still, they all seem so kind and nice when I’m working there.
My family lives in the Red Zone. There are other that I’ve been to with my parents. The people always look the same in each, like little cities of their own. I heard that I could even go to any of the other zone any time, even stay overnight and wouldn’t be as big a deal. You just can’t be in the Green Zone after curfew.
Looking down at my wrist, I need to be out of the Green Zone in the next few minutes. Mr. Smith knows, he always lets me leave with just enough time to bike back.
My parents tell me of time when you could live and work where you wanted. They say you weren’t really limited by the zone colors back then, doing what you wanted for a living, living where you wanted.
The sweat drips down my forehead and I use my jacket sleeve to wipe it off my eyebrows.
5 minutes till curfew. The warning alarm rings out over the city.
I start to pedal harder. Suddenly I remember stories of other people who get caught in the wrong zone after curfew. All I really know is that I need to get across Main Street. About a mile to go.
I hit it. A pothole.
I must’ve missed it with the sweat in my eyes. I go sailing over my handlebars. I feel my shoulder crush against the curb, just before my head hits the curb. I struggle to open my eyes.
I finally sit up and manage to wipe the sweat from my eyes. As my blurry eyes focus again, I realize it’s not sweat. Warm and pungent, I feel the blood run down my right cheek.
I look around and see my bike lying about 10 feet back. The front tire is mangled.
Curfew. The 3 consecutive alarms blare again.
I start to look around, panic filtering in between the pain. I try to stand and realize I can’t move my right arm. I don’t know why aside from the obvious pain. Rolling over to my knees, I manage to stand after a bit of rocking. Standing there, the world keeps getting fuzzy and blurred, I can’t figure out which way to look.
I stagger to my bike, thinking just maybe I could pick it up.
I look up and see some people come out. Most of them dressed in white. I try to call for some help, but my brain doesn’t work right with my mouth.
“You’re not supposed to be here are you, son?”
Something knocks me forward and my knees crush against the pavement again. Suddenly I feel intense pressure on my back, it feels like someone is stepping on me. Up and down my back.
I move from my knees to my back and collapse. As things get fuzzier again, I can make out two of the men holding something shiny.
“‘Merica is going to be great again.”
Originally published at munirm6.wordpress.com on July 27, 2016.