The Darkest Night

My latest in the Flash! Friday weekly flash contest. We’re prompted to respond to the above photo and the theme of “defeat.” My entry at no more than 210 words won an HM with the following judge comments:

J: This was a heartbreaking tale and one that I had to reread several times for the simple twist that came at the end.

IR: A well written, I nearly wrote executed but managed to avoid the pun, narrative that dealt with a complex scenario. Albert’s desires, fleeting memories that evoked the underlying current of a barabarism [that] begins at home.

My entry:

Albert was all-too aware of his blackness, like a scratchy coat upon his bones.

He wanted to do something special for Florence tonight by the Statue’s pedestal: have their first kiss.

But with darkness came the unspooling of risk. In particular, it was his darkness that was risky.

A former slave as a boy, Albert had hitchhiked to New York, buoyed by the words of other freed slaves, offering a life without cotton.

Not long after, he found himself sweeping the sidewalk in front of Florence’s home.

She wasn’t like any white woman he’d known. She didn’t shy away from his muscular blackness. Instead, she offered a hello as she walked by him.

That “hello” altered both their fates, intertwining them like tripwire between America’s forward consciousness and its past.

That night, standing by the pedestal’s construction site, Albert had no way of knowing that Florence’s brother was a Klan’s man. And that he had followed them with his Colt .45 he’d been issued by the Army.

Running on rum and racist fumes, the brother aimed the Colt at the darkness.

Instead, lead found white flesh. And in that moment, the promise of tomorrow became a cruel joke burning through Albert’s black skin.

Albert never did get to kiss her.

3 thoughts

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