Greetings all! I just wanted to share a lil’ excerpt from a short story that I’ve recently written for this short story competition that I just entered into. I hope I win some money…or at least get my short story featured in the anthology…or BOTH. I titled it, Carla. Anyway, feast your eyes on the excerpt and tell me what you think:
October 12, 2008. It was a day that I would never forget. Not only was that my birthday but it was the day that a one split-second decision changed my life. I had to learn the hard way that one should always think before they react. “Happy birthday, Carla,” my grandma mumbled to me, in an uncaring tone.
She threw an empty and wrinkled birthday card onto my bed and walked out of my bedroom, closing the door behind her. Every one of my birthdays were the same when I was living with my grandma; boring with absolutely no well thought-out plan to make me feel special. With all of the awesome things that teenagers could do in the big city of Atlanta, my grandma never allowed me to get involved in any activities. It was like I was living in a prison.
But I thought that since I turned sixteen-years old, things would be different and that I’d actually get to do something meaningful for my birthday or at least get something nice. I wanted to be loved. But to know that I wasn’t loved and to be treated as if I wasn’t worth anything but a bent birthday card, had me filled instantly me with rage.
I stormed out of my bedroom and without giving it a second thought, I brutally attacked my grandma. Everything happened so fast; she was in the kitchen and she was cutting up a couple of potatoes on a cutting board. I walked up behind her, grabbed her by her hair, and threw her down onto the floor. She screamed and dropped the knife that she was using to cut the potatoes. I grabbed the knife and I stabbed her in every area that she wasn’t quick to block with her hand.
Then she screamed, “Carla, God is watching you!” I can’t really explain it but it was at that very moment that I didn’t have the urge to strike her again. With the knife still in my hand, I stood there in utter disbelief because of all of the damage that I caused to her. Her yellow sundress was soaked in blood and she slowly crawled away from me while trying to stop the bleeding with her hands.
All of the strength in my body vanished to the point where the knife fell out of my hands and I fell to my knees. I was so overwhelmed with remorse that tears were flowing down my face like a river as I crawled over to my grandma to tend to her. I was panicking because of the tremendous loss of blood and I still wanted her to forgive me for what I had done.
Shaking like a leaf, I picked up the phone and called 911. As I was waiting for the dispatcher to answer the phone, I looked at my grandma and she was crying in pain. I cried right along with her. It’s strange but even though she was the meanest woman that I ever knew, a part of me hated to see her hurting.
“Hello, 911 what’s your emergency?” the female dispatcher asked me.
With tears in my voice, I said, “My grandma is hurt. I need an ambulance.”
“You say your grandma is hurt?”
“Yes. Please send an ambulance.”
“Ambulance is on the way but I need to know what’s wrong with your grandma so that I can try my best to help you.”
I let out a deep breath and I said, “I hurt her.”
“You hurt your grandma? How did you hurt her?”
“I stabbed her and she’s bleeding really bad.”
She paused for a minute and then she said, “Umm…so you say that you stabbed your grandma?”
“Why did you stab your grandma?”
“Because… I was angry. I just wanted her to treat me better.”
“Is your grandma breathing?”
“Yes, she is.”
“Okay. Stay on the phone with me until the ambulance gets there.”
I did as she instructed and in less than ten minutes, the police and the ambulance arrived at my grandma’s house. The police asked me a thousand questions as to what happened and I told them the truth about what I did. From the look on their face, they seemed rather confused as to why I committed such as terrible act. I tried to explain myself to the two Black officers but one of them looked very unconvinced. However, the tea-colored officer with the bald head didn’t have an expression on his face at all. I couldn’t even tell if he believed me or not.
In an instant, I was handcuffed and placed in the back of the police car while my grandma was rushed to the hospital. I still had dried blood on my hands and on my clothes. As the two male police officers were sitting in the front of the car, one of them kept glancing at me every few minutes from his rearview mirror as he was driving. To my surprise, he asked me in a soft-spoken voice, “Are you hungry, Carla?”
“No, sir,” I mumbled.
“I recall you telling my partner and I that your birthday was today. So how old are you?”
“Sixteen, sir. Can I ask you a question?”
“Am I in a lot of trouble?”
He sighed and said, “I can’t really tell you what’s gonna happen. It will be up to the judge what your punishment is gonna be. Have you ever been in trouble before?”
“Hmm. Well, I’m not gonna lie to you and say that you’re not in trouble. You will have to pay for what you did in some form or another. But you will survive it and everything is gonna be okay.”
“My I ask what’s your name, sir?”
“Sure. I’m Officer Robert Newton.”
“Newton? That’s my last name, too.”
“Yes, I know.”
I couldn’t understand why the officer was being so comforting. Even his partner looked confused about his demeanor. But I had to admit that it did comfort me a little bit. That night, I was taken to a juvenile facility and while I was being processed, I looked at Officer Newton and said, “I’m scared.”
He put his arm around me and said, “I’ll be checking up on you in a few hours. Just relax.” Then he looked at the lady who was processing me and he said to her, “If she gets hungry, give her something to eat.”
After she was done processing my paper work and putting me into the system, she placed me in what appeared to be a holding cell. It was very small, cold, and had a stench that was so unbearable that it was giving me a headache. Across from me sat a girl that was the complete opposite of me; I had bronze-colored skin, dark brown eyes that were shaped like almonds, a petite frame, kinda short and kinky brown hair that reached my shoulders.
However, the girl that was sitting across from me had to be over six feet tall, she looked like she weighed about three-hundred pounds, her skin was the color of vanilla, and her black hair was pulled back in a ponytail. She kept looking down at the floor and slightly rocking back and forth.
With caution, I asked her, “What’s your name?”
Softly, she replied, “Sofia.”
“My name is Carla. Are you okay?”
Without looking up from the floor, she replied, “I told him not to touch me anymore.”
“Who are you talking about?”
“What did he do to you?”
As tears rolled down her face, she explained, “He tried to do the same things to me that he did to me when I was eight-years old. He’d always wait until my mom left the house and then tried to make me…I just…I just couldn’t take it anymore.”
I knew what she was trying to tell me and just the thought of it was making me sick to my stomach. I asked her, “So what did you do to him?”
“I shot him.”
“You shot him?”
“Yes. I shot him twice in the head and killed him. I didn’t know any other way to stop him. I told my mom about what he was doing to me but she wouldn’t believe me.”
“Wow. How old are you?”
“Seventeen. I know that I’m in a lot of trouble but I can’t say that I regret what I did to him. He was evil and now the evil is dead.”
The day of my trial was two weeks later. I was so scared on that day but once I saw Officer Newton, I became very calm and everything in me wanted to run into his arms for safety. He walked in the courtroom and sat down behind me. My grandma was there with small bandages on her right arm from the stab wounds. Honestly, she needed to win an Oscar for her performance in the courtroom.
For starters, her long black hair was all over the place as if she’d been in a fight prior to her walking inside the courtroom. This was the first time that I ever saw her with her hair undone. She always took pride in her hair and in her clothes. But on this day, she wanted to make sure that the judge showed her sympathy and saw absolutely no fault in her.
With her fake act, she said, “Your Honor, I took Carla into my home when she was only six-years old. Her mother died when she was five.
“And I imagine that Carla’s mother was your daughter? Is that correct?” the judge asked.
“That is correct, sir. My daughter, Tracy, died from a drug overdose and so I have tried everything I could to make sure that Carla was well taken care of. I have showed her all of the love and support—“
“Love and support?!” I shouted, “What love and support?!”
“Quiet down, right now!” the judge demanded me.
My grandma then went on to say, “See what I mean? She’s disrespectful, she’s cruel, and I don’t even know what I’ve done wrong.”
The judge then took down some notes and asked, “Is the arresting officers present?”
Officer Newton stood up and replied, “Yes, sir. I’m Officer Newton and I was present at the home of Carla’s grandmother, Bessie Wilson.”
“Were you the only arresting officer present on day of October 12, 2008?”
Grandma’s attorney interjected and said, “No, Your Honor. Officer Mel Jacob was also present but he is on sick leave at the present moment.
The judge scribbled something down and then asked Officer Newton, “What did you witness when you arrived at the home of Ms. Bessie Wilson?”
Officer Newton sighed and said, “Well, I saw that Ms. Wilson was laying on the kitchen floor with a couple of stab wounds.”
“And was Carla Newton present?”
“Yes, she was.”
“Did she state to you that she stabbed Ms. Wilson?”
“Yes, Your Honor,” he replied softly.
The judge started scribbling again and then he looked at me and asked, “Carla, explain to me what happened on that day.”
Nervously, I said to him, “Well, my grandma tossed an empty birthday card on my bed and I got angry and attacked her.”
“You got angry because your grandmother gave you a birthday card?”
“No. I got angry because she never showed me that she loved me. Each birthday has been the same; either she’ll forget my birthday or just toss me an empty birthday card that’s not even signed and—“
“So all of this was over a birthday card?”
“No, sir. It is because of her lack of love for me. The only reason why she gave me a birthday card in the first place is because she wanted to show proof to the case worker that I was being loved and taken care of. My grandma has told me many times that I’m nothing to her but a paycheck. She’s told me that if it wasn’t for her getting money from the county to take care of me, I would be on the streets.”
“That’s no excuse to brutally attack your grandmother. You could’ve killed her. Don’t you realize that?”
Yes sir, you’re right. I totally understand that what I did was wrong. I just got tired of being mistreated by her. It wasn’t even about the card. The card was just an ugly reminder of how she has treated me over the years. She didn’t put any thought into that card, just like she didn’t put any thought into how she’s treated me all of my life. I’m sorry for my actions, sir. I just wanted her to love me and I hate the fact that she doesn’t.”
My public defender finally spoke and he said, “Your Honor, considering the fact that my client has never been in trouble with law, we are asking for leniency.”
The judge looked at a couple of papers on his desk and started scribbling again. Then he looked at both my public defender and I and then the judge said, “Well, unfortunately, there is not much that I can do in regards to giving Ms. Carla Newton some leniency because of the severity of the crime. So here’s my decision; she is to be removed from Ms. Wilson’s home and placed into a juvenile detention center until her eighteenth birthday.”
Officer Newton made one step forward and he said to the judge, “Your Honor, may I interject something?”
“I do understand that the crime that Carla Newton committed was rather horrific and after speaking to her, I do believe that she fully regrets what she did. Instead of putting her in a juvenile home, maybe she’ll be better off staying with her father.”
“Well unfortunately, Officer Newton, her father is not in this courtroom. Besides, I don’t see how his presence can even help the situation.”
“Actually, Your Honor, her father is in the courtroom.”
“And just where exactly is he?”
“Well…um…Your Honor, I am her father.”
Copyright © 2013 by Sonica Jackson