in fire & flames

Disclaimer: During this time there are more important things to read; specifically, events and proper journalism of the current BLM movement to stay active, informed, and giving to change the injustice that has been happening for far too long in America. I have been actively donating, supporting and helping the movement in every way that is possible to me and encourage everybody to do the same.

This website is a journal dedicated to preserve the vignettes of my own life and is not in any way shape or form attempting to distract from this important, critical movement.

“A day will come when you think you are safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth. And you will know the debt is paid.”

There is so much of my life I never want to forget. There is plenty more memories that I have wanted, begged and attempted to forget. I am twenty-six. Over twenty years of memories that fade more and more everyday, and a learned appreciation for every singular moment that allows me to feel.

All I want to do is write. Find the voice inside of me, breathe it into life and transcribe it into immortality. I don’t know if I want to live forever, or if there are memories that I want to live forever.

I was thirteen when it happened. I had come home after school. The house was empty. I climbed into bed for a nap and woke up to so many unusual noises. My heart jumped. I walked out of my room to peer over the staircase banister.

Two big men came from my brother’s room. I yelled his name in fear. I knew he wasn’t there, that these men weren’t his friends, but there was a small amount of hope.

They ran out the door. I ran back into my room. I called my oldest brother’s workplace. Said it was an emergency. There were men in the home. It takes twenty-six minutes from his restaurant to our house.

My breathing was shallow. Two minutes. The noises came again. I looked over the banister. They came back; moving quicker now. I locked my door. Locked the doors in the jack-and-jill bathroom. The bedroom next to mine. I climbed into an old, styrofoam costume that barely fit my body. Piled my dirty clothes on top. Sat in the closet. Four minutes.

My brother had a 911 operator call me. I remember her voice. She was sweet, calm. She sounded like the age I am now. Asked me to talk about anything. Narrate the situation. I focused on steadying my voice. My heart was beating fast. Tell my brother I love him I wanted to say.

I hadn’t told my brother I loved him since my father died. I swallowed it. Today will not be my day. I heard them come up the stairs. The pounding of their feet was so loud.

My brother locks his master bedroom. I heard the bang, bang, bang of them knocking it down. I heard the footsteps in the hallway. I heard the bang, bang, bang of the bedroom next to mine.

Then, a knock at the door of my room. The jingle of the doorknob. My breath was a whisper. My body was warm. His feet walked to the bedroom next to mine instead. So much rustling.

It felt like an eternity. In that closet. With that woman on the phone. I refused tears, emotions. I refused to feel. This numbing state I learned. This objective, neutral stasis. I was void of emotion.

They were so loud. Everything being thrown. Clanging. Banging. Stomping. Voices. “Hey what about in here?” I heard them in the hallway outside of my door. My heart felt like a live, caged animal.

I prayed to my father.

“No we have to go” My heart stalled. My breathing disappeared.

I heard a car in the driveway. Running down the stairs.

The front door open and slam. Silence. I spoke to the lady on the phone. “I don’t hear anything.” Another minute that felt like forever. Maybe two, three.

My brother’s voice echoed. “Jenny?” I told her I was safe. “Michael?” I yelled back. I looked at the phone to hang up. Thirteen minutes and twenty-three seconds.

I took the styrofoam costume off of me. Found the muscles in my body to move. Open the doorknob. My brother was coming up the stairs, his Kendo stick in hand. I ran into his arms, for the second time in seven years.

He held me. Then examined me. “Are you okay? Did they touch you? Did they hurt you?” I can remember his panicked face. He walked through the house. Pacing. Checking on everything. “Are you okay?”

“Yes I’m okay. They didn’t hurt me or touch me. I’m okay. They didn’t go into the room. They left me alone. Did you think they knew I was there?” It was a waterfall of word vomit. The cops walked through the front door. Two men, full uniform. They looked up at me as my brother walked from room to room.

They asked a lot of questions. Told my brother to stop touching things. Told me I was brave or something like that. They were very, very kind. I sat at the top of the stairs.

It took hours for them to finish. CSI came. Lots of paperwork. Questions. Details.

I asked my brother what happened. He told me he ran every light. Couldn’t even remember if they were red or green. Told me he pulled up to the driveway as the two men were leaving. Had his kendo stick in the car. Hit one of them hard until he fell to the ground, then the other. He grabbed one of them by the shirt. Had both of them at some point. One slipped away.

The cops came shortly after and arrested the one he was still holding.

They scolded him for his vigilante justice, but with slight jest. He said, “It was my little sister in there.”

I think a lot about this moment. How I felt. How lucky I was. I still can’t really sleep in new places alone anymore. I still can’t really sleep when it’s too dark outside. My mind races when I hear unusual noises. When I think too hard alone my paranoia sets in.

I hate being in a house where one person isn’t awake. My boyfriend sleeps alone a lot of the time. I have sporadic night terrors every now and then.

My friends, the guy I liked at the time, some of my cousins, everyone all told me that it was no big deal. For fifteen minutes I sat in fear. In cold, frightened helplessness. It was one of the first times in my life I have ever felt true danger. It was one of the only times in my life that it had ever lasted so long.

It feels like when you’re riding shotgun and another car drives in front. You yell at whoever is driving to swerve and for about fifteen seconds you don’t know if he is going to. It’s the exact moment of cortisol, adrenaline, and all of your favorite memories repeated for fifteen minutes straight. Then, without your control, scattered throughout your life at the worst moments.

One, singular, definitive moment in my life where I have ever had to feel danger. I am lucky my brother is a superhero. I am lucky those men didn’t want to hurt me. I am lucky that I have never had to feel that again.

I am lucky, still, that when cops see my brothers with weapons our skin color alone protected us from prejudice. I am lucky, still, to live a life that is not in constant danger. This is a situation where one of the worst things happened but the best possible outcomes followed shortly after.

This is a situation where racist people will try to tell you it was the skin color of the people who broke in that mattered. This is a situation where the same people need to be reminded that it was the skin color of my brother and I that actually mattered, and how disgusting it is that it is ever something that comes into consideration.

There are people of every skin color will hurt you. There are people of every skin color that will protect you. We do ourselves a disservice when we do not treat the people we meet equally.

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