Cool

He silently watched the car shrink away, eaten up by the distance. Strange. Although his lips were unmoving, he had so much he wanted to say.

Cool was the only word he could utter after the car disappeared over the hill leading to the main highway.

“Cool.”

The weather was cool. First day of spring but snow in the forecast. Fat, fluffy snowflakes fell from the sky earlier that morning. It reminded him of thin strips of white confetti, like the dry stuff they’d sprinkle over a stage for a winter-themed play.

His shirt was cool. Short-sleeve—he shivered when the wind blew. Cotton. Custom made. Black canvas. “Wakanda Forever” in bold white text stretched across his chest. He wore it twice to see the movie Black Panther. Once alone, and again with his son.

The Lexis was cool. One he’d always dreamed of owning. But this one carried his son in the backseat. Away to his mother’s house, across town, across the train tracks, across the invisible Mason-Dixon line that marked his skin— though she sees no color, so she said.

His son’s Spider-Man sneakers were cool. They lit up when he walked. All the kids in school were jealous, so much that one tried to steal them off his feet during recess behind the teacher’s back, then cried foul play when the bottom of the shoe swiftly met his face.

Getting suspended from school for fighting was cool, because that was what all the other boys in the neighborhood did. They kept tally—who won, who was the punk.

But it wasn’t cool.

Not cool. He shook his head, thinking of his ex’s parting words. “We don’t solve our problems with violence. I left him with you because I thought you could teach our son how to be black.”

How to be black, he thought. What does that even mean?

—Nortina


Monday Muse Writing Prompt challenges you to use the opening line and provided photo to create a story in just 20 minutes. Click here for more details.

Also check out Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem, “We Real Cool,” which “subconsciously” inspired this story.

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