okay, here’s the gymnasium.
starr stood back and watched the scene before her. These students, so busy with the design of the homecoming float, did not seem to notice her at all. Cautiously, she stepped forward.
At first she thought no one had heard her. But,
"Yo, what’s up?" A tall young man with brown skin a shade darker brown than hers.
"i’m here to help with the float."
The young man glanced at his watch; starr flushed. 3:30, school had ended some time ago. starr refused to ask for help opening her new locker, as a "senior" she would be able to figure it out for herself. She should be able to.
"Well, go ahead."
"is there some sort of plan?"
Another young girl bounded up behind the young man. She was short and pudgy and had dark brown hair, a colour almost like starr’s, but twisted into a multitude of braids. She grabbed him from behind and yelled at starr,
"Well, are you gonna help or just stand there not doin nuthin’?"
The girl then smiled.
starr smiled back, tried to be in on the joke, but everyone was gone. Back to work.
starr approached the float. She studied it for a few minutes, trying to decipher its theme, but the message eluded her. Rather than ask, she turned to studying the members of the Black Students group, formed to foster unity and understanding between the school’s African and African-American minorities. When they had invited her to join, she accepted eagerly. These are your people. You can belong here.
A voice, off to the side, startled her. She turned to see a dark brown girl, standing with her hands on her hips, scrutinizing starr, the float, everything.
"well, I’m not quite sure that I understand the theme. at first –"
"What, are you saying you don’t get it?"
"something like that," starr mumbled.
"It’s Black People Through the Decades."
for a homecoming float? say something, say something now, they will listen to your opinion.
"i’m just not sure how that relates to football."
"Of course it does. Black people made football what it is."
"oh, all right." starr ventured a smile.
The girl smiled back. At another girl who had just run up and grabbed her arm.
"This is going to be so bomb."
"Yeah it is, it’s off the hook. What do you think?"
starr was caught off guard. "i like it."
Both girls beamed at her. Taking her by the arm, they led her to what she assumed was the main stage of the float.
"Were trying to decide what to display here. Either we’ll have an African dance, or something more modern, set to DMX and Nore. What do you think?"
"what about a combination of the two, to show how it’s all related?"
"Naw, too complicated. But your’re gonna dance in it, ‘cause we need some more of our women out there."
One girl turned to the other. "Who’s doin’ costumes? Do you want to?"
"Not really. I’m doing choreography."
"Alright, then, hmm."
"i can, if you like. i took a year of sewing and design."
"Naw, that’s alright. We had this planned out."
Both girls turned away from her. starr walked down to the other end of the float. Two young men were painting.
"Yo, man, quit it. You getting’ paint on my gear."
"Serve you right, flossin’ that when you knew we was paintin’."
They both laughed, and then noticed starr.
"You’re new, aren’t you? I thought so. Are those Tommy Jeans?"
"What? Whatever. Must be a California thing, ‘cause you talk like a valley girl."
"What you up to, girl?"
"i was going to help, but i’m not quite sure what to do."
"Do whatever you like. We’re all together on this, and we need every sister involved. You know?" Then, "Man, I told you to quit that."
Feeling just a little bit out of it, starr retreated to the bleachers and sat down.
is my California background really that obvious? but then, i can’t see how i would talk like a valley girl if i were home-schooled. i talk like myself.
All of a sudden, a short, light girl with long, black hair stood up. starr’s thoughts were lost.
"Alright, we’re done for the day. Everyone practice like I told you. The float looks bomb. We’re meeting at my house tomorrow to go over lines. You gonna be there?" She pointed at starr.
"sure, i guess –"
"Alright, then! Let’s go, ya’ll, it’s been real!"
yes, it has been real.
As the rest of the students bustled for the doorway, starr stood back and observed. Then she hurried to catch up with them, not wanting to be left behind.