The town was old. Grace didn’t like it very much. There wasn’t a lake or a river or a puddle of water anywhere for miles and miles. They had the audacity to call the town Tears. Maybe it was talking about all the tears that were shed at the prospect of moving to such a crappy town. She’d cried about it for hours. It didn’t change her parents’ plans at all but she felt better when they cringed at the sight of her swollen eyes and bright red nose.
Served them right for moving her to Tears.
There was only one high school for the whole town. Her mother had pointed it out to her on the drive through the dingy streets. Just the sight of the rundown building with its old red paint was enough to send her into tears again. Her father sighed in exasperation as her mother tried to calm her down, promising ice cream and lasagna and a trip to Disney! But Grace wasn’t ten years old anymore. Ice cream, lasagna, and Disney weren’t enough incentives to forgive the travesty her parents had committed.
They said it would be good for them. Fresh air. Quiet living. Her own room. She would’ve picked living in a closet under the stairs for the rest of her life over moving to the middle of nowhere.
Grace wanted to remind her parents that “middle of nowhere” was usually the setting to scary movies and while she didn’t want to be insensitive, the color of her skin would surely lead to her dying first in the case of a ghost or serial killer. Her father, who’s skin was as deep as hers, would survive only because he wasn’t even part of the movie. But Grace? Angsty black teenager angry at her parents? She was a goner. Scary movies told her so.
Her parents didn’t find her ghost slash serial killer movie plot very compelling. In fact, it just made them take back their offer of lasagna.
That first night was the hardest. She had a giant room full of sunshine and a big old tree with branches that occasionally scratched at her window. She could imagine filming some youtube videos in her room and all the comments that would express jealousy at the size of her bed or the walk-in closet. But nothing made the move to Tears any better. So she lay in bed that night, the moon lighting strips of the floor, the branches scritch-scratching at her window, and cried again.
In the morning, after rubbing her swollen eyes and removing the crust that had settled on her eyelashes, she took a look at her window. Then, when she wasn’t sure she was seeing correctly (had she really removed all that cry-crust?), she moved closer and cursed her bad luck.
There were scratches on her window. Like sharp fingernails had dug into glass. Like some serial killer had seen her driving up with her parents and seen ANGRY BLACK TEENAGER tattooed on her forehead.
She cried all the way to the bathroom for good measure.