Gleaming street lights, bleak lights, some that feel like spotlights. Windows down, engine humming, tasting my musics sweet melody with my ear buds. The breeze whips my hair back and carries a scent so fresh only nature could create it. I feel so free.
My gps found a shortcut.
I turn right on West Monroe St.
I reach the first stoplight.
A homeless man was sitting right next to me quenching his thirst with a 40. My phone dies and I take my ear buds out. I find that the streets have their own kind of music for me. Kids laughing, kids crying, kids dying, gunshots and screams. The beat of the song suddenly flatlines, soon being resuscitated with the sound of police sirens. I feel that familiar breeze, this time carrying the scent of lung disease. Cigarette buds littered like leaves. I see more roaches and syringes than people. My anxiety kicks into high gear. I just want this light to change… it feels like it will never turn green.
I look up and see two silhouettes illuminated in a window three stories above me. The silhouettes came to life with shrieks of fury. I see someone dashing towards the fire escape, trying to escape the inferno within the other. The attempt concludes with the sound of thunderous skin contact, then stillness.
One silhouette remained.
Suddenly, squad cars blocked the intersection to stop a squad of young black males, minding their business. The not-so-clandestine drug deals performed by the white man across the street falls to the wayside. He vanishes into an alleyway, while the police approach their prey. Next thing I knew, the ground was covered in black and the walls were dripping red. The streets got a bit quieter without those heartbeats.
When the scene cleared and my tires began to inch forward, I felt like my freedom was being restored. The stoplight made me appreciate things I had never thought to appreciate. The crickets and silence that intertwined at night in my middle-class neighborhood. My black brother whose tucked away in bed with no holes in his chest. The only thing being sold on my street corner is lemonade and Girl Scout cookies.
I pulled into my driveway and felt gratitude seep out of every pore.
So grateful to have had a getaway car.
So grateful that was not my reality.
So grateful I did not live on West Monroe St.