“Just make sure you understand the reality,” Bianca spoke. “It’s not safe out there.”
“Everything will be okay,” I assured her as I tightened the draw strings on my pants.
“Well, it’s still in the area, so I shouldn’t worry as much as I do, but I can’t help it,” Bianca grabbed a water bottle from the refrigerator and gave it to me.
I zipped the zipper on my jacket and put on my skull-cap.
I kissed her on the cheek before stretching. I tied my shoes after stretching and opened the door.
I inhaled the chilly air before exhaling and putting my earphones in. I picked a song and waved to my neighbor, Mrs. Wilson – she had the biggest smile as she waved.
“Hey, Jeremiah,” she spoke softly.
I removed one of the earphones.
“How you doing, Mrs. Wilson?”
Mrs. Wilson was an elderly woman: she kind of played the role of the neighborhood’s grandma. She was always cooking and caring for everyone and I truly enjoyed seeing her in good spirits, regardless of what was going on.
“I’m good, baby,” she spoke as she sat in her chair on the porch. “How’s your mom?”
“She’s doing okay,” I responded with a smile.
“That’s good. What are you up to?” she responded.
“Just going to get my exercise in,” I smiled. “The weather isn’t too bad, so I want to take advantage of it before I have to get some work done.”
“Don’t let me hold you,” she smiled. “Be safe out there.”
“Thanks Grandma Wilson,” I returned my earphone and began my afternoon run.
I started my run at full speed, as I normally did, and observed nature’s beauty. The birds were chirping, I saw rabbits hopping along, and I swear I saw some deer mating.
I laughed and rapped along to the music playing in my ears as I jogged. Something about jogging made me happy and released the weight of the world from my shoulders. For those brief moments that I jogged, everything seemed to be okay.
I continued my jog as I ran along the forest. I waved at many of the neighbors and they all smiled as they watched me run. It felt really good to see so many smiling faces, in a time where it seemed like things were going downhill.
I smiled and gave numerous head nods to my neighbors, as a way to say ‘keep pushing, you’re doing a good job’.
But then, things changed as I made a few turns…
I was in my neighborhood, none-the-less, but the neighbors started looking less-and-less like me. I tried my hardest to not pay much attention to them as I figured everything was fine.
I took a pause in my jog and sat on the porch of a home that was being repaired. I was so tired as I’d been running for roughly 2-and-a-quarter miles. But, I had to finish strong. Quitting was not an option.
I finished drinking from the water bottle I possessed and threw it in a nearby recycle bin.
I continued playing my music and jogged down the road at a steady pace.
As I jogged, I heard a vehicle approaching from behind, but I paid no attention to it – I merely moved over to the side of the road so they could pass. But they had no intentions of passing me up.
“Hey, boy,” the driver shouted to me.
I heard him, but I was hoping that me ignoring him would cause the duo to leave.
“Hey! I’m talking to you.” the driver shouted again before accelerating.
He drove ahead of me and stopped the vehicle.
I continued jogging to get around the men, but as I approached, two men unloaded from the truck; the passenger had a shotgun in his hand.
MY HEART DROPPED
“What are you doing around here, boy?” the passenger approached with the shotgun aimed.
My choices were slim and the odds weren’t in my favor.
“What were you doing at that house?”
“What house?” I asked, slightly confused.
The driver spoke.
“Keep your hands where we can see them,” the driver shouted.
But, let’s be fair, if someone is shouting instructions at you and you don’t know who they are and they have a weapon approaching you, what’s the first thing you would do?
I defended myself.
I lunged in and threw my body at the passenger, and we both tussled for control of the weapon.
“Let it go!” the passenger shouted.
I grunted but I tried to not say a word.
I threw a few punches as I tried to gain control, and I noticed the driver go to the bed of the truck.
He stood erect with another gun in his hand.
A gunshot rang out.
Adrenaline was flowing through my body as I saw how quickly all of this was escalating. I continued to fight for control of the weapon.
Another shot rang out and I stumbled. As I lost my balance, the passenger fired another shot and I fell to the ground.
The driver approached the passenger and he patted him on the back, as if they’d just accomplished their biggest feat.
I laid on the ground bleeding out and before I faded, I looked at my smart-watch and saw the watch was still tracking my run: 2.23 miles. I had another half-mile before I would have finished for the day.
But now, I won’t have the chance to finish my daily run; in fact, that was the last time I would ever run.
Now, I am just waiting, as I have no other choice. Even with the cards laid out, I am wondering what would happen to my killers.
Will my Blackness be treated as a justifiable reason to be hunted? Was me running truly a threat to the murderers? Or were they simply playing ‘cops-and-robbers’, which is what I’m hearing they presumed I was, before following me.
It’s okay, you can say my name; my real name… But while you’re saying my name, make sure you truly stand with me and speak out against this injustice.
I don’t want what happened to me to happen to anyone else.
IT’S NOT RIGHT
Don’t let me be another case that everyone is up-in-arms about, but forgets about it as soon as the next big thing comes up.
This has got to stop. Being Black isn’t a weapon, and if they do consider it to be one, I guess we will always be carrying and they’ll forever have the right to disarm us.
R.I.P. Ahmaud Arbery
When will this end?