By Allison Elliott
Bed-Stuy had always been home for Jordan, but what will he do when something seems to be coming for him? Sometimes the real monsters are closer than you think.
The ache of his muscles weighed him down as he landed onto the long bench that made up the subway car seats. Jordan spread out in the car, his belongings melting off of his body as he melted into the seat. As the train began to move, he shut his eyes, oblivious to the judgement-filled glares directed his way from other commuters. Taking solace in the rest space he purchased for $2.75 through his ochre-yellow MetroCard, he allowed the movement of the car to relax his body.
Jordan quickly shot up as he felt something stare at him. As he glanced around the nearly empty car and the previously judgmental passengers averted their gaze, he still felt the piercing stare of dark eyes. At each stop, the feeling grew, and he felt it as he caught the movement of something not inside the train . . . but outside. He noticed it out of the side of his eye, moving just out of sight before he could truly take a look. His legs bounced as his eyes followed everyone who got on or off the train, counting down the stops.
As his stop came, Jordan gathered his things, dashing out of the train car, unaware of the woman who unclutched her handbag once he left. He fought against his fatigue as he ran up the stairs and out of the station. Something lurked in the shadows, moving at the same pace that Jordan did. Something so menacing, daring him to look back. Soon, he felt his spirits lift as the bus stop came into view, having a few other people already waiting.
Stopping just before he ran into the other people, he strolled under its cover, ignoring the hammering of his lungs and heart. He shut his eyes once more while he smoothed the waves of his hair. Once the bus rolled up the street, Jordan opened his eyes. He was the first in the line to board, unaware of the massive gap between him and other passengers. He dropped his MetroCard into the card slot, satisfied by the high-pitched beeping sound of his free transfer taking effect.
By then, the film of sweat that covered his forehead was only one of the many signs of anxiousness his body was producing. It was a battle between his mind and his nerves to see which would win the battle over control of his muscles. His legs wouldn’t stop bouncing while his bottom was glued to the seat, trying to stop himself from running off of the moving bus. He watched the streets go by, the multiple buildings blurring while the vehicle gained speed. His heart sank. There it was again, the dark figure, moving fluidly alongside the bus, as if it was preparing to board at the next stop.
“Damn it!” Jordan cursed out loud, dropping his backpack to the ground. He was shocked by the hurried movement of people to the back of the bus that followed directly after, bringing their things with them as they shuffled past. In disbelief, he looked around as he was the only one left in the front. Before he could say anything, he caught the movement of the figure out of the corner of his eye once more.
His breathing began to steady as he recognized the buildings that surrounded his stop. The old house that was turned into a set of new apartments, all decked out in the same bland “modern” exterior with the highest prices in the area. The well-known thrift store that was still overrun with teenage girls who had deep pockets and reseller accounts tucked away on their phones. Taking this as a sign, he got up from his seat, tuning out the people who backed away despite being bunched up into the corner of the bus. Jordan bounced with anticipation as he watched the dark shadow trail behind, waiting to see the green lights over the exit door come on. As soon as they did, he pushed out of the bus and began running in the direction of his house.
Girls Write Now On the Other Side of Everything: The 2023 Anthology
Do you know what it’s like to communicate with your family across a salty ocean’s divide? Do you want the sun and moon to enter your home with stories written in embers? Do you seek voices that will punctuate the darkness? Welcome to the other side of everything. It’s the other side of silence, the other side of childhood, the other side of hate, the other side of indifference, it’s the other side of sides, where the binary breaks down. It’s a new paradigm, a destination, a different perspective, a mindset, a state of openness, the space between the endless folds in your forehead, hopes for tomorrow, and reflections on the past. This anthology of diverse voices is an everything bagel of literary genres and love songs, secrets whispered in the dark of night, conversations held with ancestors under the sea.
The recently-altered businesses soon grew apart in frequency as his feet hit the sidewalk. He felt the shadow draw closer and closer as he pushed himself to run faster, quickly making the turn at the Jamaican restaurant that had managed to stay open since he was a child. His hands reached into the pocket of his pants to find his keys as he skipped up the stairs leading to his front door. Fumbling as his heart raced, he opened the front door, not daring to check where the figure was. He immediately turned to lock the door, not wanting to invite the figure, or its menacing presence, inside. As the locks clicked, he breathed a sigh of relief, his shoulders visibly sinking as the anxiety slid off of his body.
Putting down his backpack on the ground, Jordan looked up to the ceiling in thankfulness, oblivious to the odd darkness and silence that hung over the house. As he turned around, he saw it, waiting to come for him.
When I was deciding what piece I would like to create, I thought about the current issues that I saw both around me and in the media. Family friends were complaining about the signs of gentrification in their neighborhoods—new expensive stores and negligent landlords trying to price out current tenants. In the meantime, cases of police brutality and crimes against racial minorities were increasing. Oftentimes, you would see people point to the victim of these crimes, trying to pick out things they “did wrong” or reasons why they deserved it. We are all affected by these things one way or another, and I felt it was important to point this out in a way you won’t see in a typical news article.
Allison Elliott is a Jamaican-American teen that has been raised in the amazing community of East-Flatbush. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, sharing the many things that she holds dear to her. Allison enjoys reading, writing, playing with her dog, listening to music, and watching the sky. Growing up in such a diverse community, she recognizes the importance of representation in all tropes and genres for every type of person. With this in mind, she tries to dedicate her work to being inclusive and creating stories for everyone, especially those who have been underrepresented in the past.