To the Children of the Mind
There You Go
“You’re supposed to be smart, but not that smart. It’s like you have to have common sense, not just what you learn from books,” Imaria Twill said.
“But I don’t just read books. I study Kurosawa films. I view Jacob Lawrence paintings. I listen to Beethoven’s musical stylings. My Asimov reading acumen is…” Shantella Grier said.
“Acumen? There you go. Like I’m supposed to know what that means? Why do you have to do that?”
“Well, firstly, acumen means ability to understand and reason.”
“Why didn’t you just say that?”
“Why would I have to use all of those words? That’s verbose. If I’m expanding your vocabulary, I will not apologize for that. So please understand that I will not sacrifice my intelligence to entertain your ignorance.”
Imaria looked at Shantella with eyes askance. “I’ve got to get to class. But I’m not done with you. Not at all.”
She released Shantella from the door to the high school. Shantella straightened her collar and brushed off her shoulders. She entered the school and proceeded to her classroom. Or her performance stage. For as long as she was enrolled in the private school system in Dover, Delaware, Shantella excelled in her studies. Especially mathematics. Her dream was to be a mathematician and work for herself tutoring college students and develop an app which would aid in the comprehension of algebra, geometry, and calculus. What separated Shantella from other students remained her express attention and keen ability to explain her work and give detailed analysis on why she arrived at an answer. Teachers praised her. But she viewed their admiration as a bonus not the primary in her quest for perfection. She was on track to be the school’s 3rd valedictorian. And her grade point average reflected this adventure with every A mark. She surpassed her classmates on standardized tests and engaged in extracurricular activities. But all of this provided fodder for ridicule and derision by the likes of Imaria and her ilk. Berquisha Rivers, Malanda Short, and Taquasia Port all envied Shantella and sought to pester her. But the odd thing which presented itself was that they all studied math. And English. The sciences and more. Each girl possessed the knowledge which would lead to a life of learning and discovery. They knew Shakespeare’s finest dramas and fanciful comedies. They could quote the preamble to the Bill of Rights. But what separated Shantella from the four other girls was the fact that she embraced her intelligence. She regarded her mind as a treasure and guarded it from these other smart girls who refused to acknowledge their own brain power. Taquasia, upon asking her alcoholic mother to listen to her recite the lines from a Tennyson poem received rebuke and slapped her across the face. “ Who do you think you are? Some kind of a poet?” her mother had said. Never did Taquasia ever muster up the courage to stand in front of the class and relay those writings, so she incurred a failing grade for the assignment. She knew by rote memory but never shared her talent with the teacher or classmates. Berquisha and Malanda both new William Tecumseh Sherman’s exploits during the the American Civil War, from his March to the Sea to his famous response when asked whether he should be president. But both girls rejected the notion of writing on the tests the correct answers. They simply chose not to display any ability in the classroom. These girls only passed on a mediocre level. Their test scores which colleges would have used in the decision for accepting them were too low for consideration. So, it’s no wonder that after the second class of the day, the quartet teamed up on Shantella in the gymnasium.
A Bright One
“I guess you think you’re smarter than us,” Berquisha said. Shantella clutched her tablet tight. Full of all of the world had to offer including the notes from the previous class, this tablet represented Shantella’s entire life. Suddenly, Malanda stepped forward and wrested the electronic device from Shantella’s grip. The four girls against her began throwing Shantella’s tablet around like it was a frisbee. Finally, it reached Imaria. Without hesitation and with Malanda, Berquisha and Taquasia holding Shantella’s arms, hoisted the tablet above her head and thrust it into the hardwood. Shantella, with tears streaming down her face struggled to break free, but to no avail. Malanda then threw Shantella to the floor. Motivated by bitter quickness, the four girls pummeled Shantella. One decisive blow to her neck by Berquisha severed Shantella’s spine. After Shantella showed no signs of life, the four students ran away from her. But as Melanda, Berquisha, and Taquasia ran from the scene. Imaria returned to Shantella and asked, “You’re not so smart now, are you?”
The neighborhood from which Shantella hailed her in a memorial service. Her parents remarked on her superior intelligence and supported the idea that the evil of her attackers would not be forgiven. The four girls who later were taken into custody demonstrated no contrition. Their contempt for Shantella brought out levels of hatred which permeated throughout Dover. Psychiatrists comforted the students and staff who stood in disbelief in the wake of Shantella’s death. Her fight, though she lost, would inspire other students who were proud of their intellect. The bullies who stopped harassing kids with wanton intentions and sought only to encourage them arose. In her memory, the school constructed a plaque reading: “To the children of the mind.” Shantella would’ve been proud.