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It was the worst summer Reggie Morris picked to move his family from Manhattan, New York to Alexandria, Virginia his daughter, Regina, thought. It was 1971, the year of the really bad race wars because some white store owner shot a black teenager. If that wasn’t bad enough, they decided to integrate the schools which was horrible for Regina, a black girl from the North not being able to understand why it took them so long. The first day of school was hell as her father pulled up a block away from the chaos going on from both blacks and whites. Yelling and screaming and picketing was the thing that welcomed her to her first day of school.
“Great…Not only did you pull me out of my school my senior year for a move I didn’t even want, you move to a place that’s currently having a race riot. Lovely.”
“Don’t give me that attitude, Regina. You know I had to take this job, and it forced me to move here. I’m sorry you have to leave your friends and everything you love in New York, but you know I had to take this job. I’m sorry, sweet pea.” he said with an apologetic face as she rolled her eyes. “Now go ahead and make the best of your first day.”
“Okay, daddy. I’ll try not to die today when these crazy crackers try to kill me.” she said with an overly cheerful and sarcastic smile as she got out of car and closed the door.
“Watch it, Regina. I’m serious. Watch the attitude. Now, try to have a decent day today at school. And don’t flip out on anyone. Bye, sweet pea.” he said before he drove off. She walked towards the front of the building following the other black students in. She tried to obey her father and control her attitude, which meant her temper, and ignore the many white hands pulling at her and the voices shouting that she shouldn’t be here.
Everything was mixed up that day because of the craziness and the new additions to the school, and it took her a while to find her classes on her own because there was no way she was asking a white secretary to help because she knew she would lose it, then. She settled into a seat near the window in her English class watching the chaos continue. She was amazed it was still going on and it was the third period.
In her class there was a clear line of separation of races. The whites occupied the seats in the front and the only choices for the blacks was the back seats. She knew they had done that on purpose, but she wasn’t the type to sit in the front of the class anyway. The only white person sitting in the back was a blonde haired boy sitting beside her.
“Alright class,” said a young woman with red hair standing at the front of the class. “I am your English Literature teacher, Ms. Sterling, and I would like to welcome you to the wonderful world of English Literature.” she said trying to ignore the noise outside. “Let’s start by turning in your book to an incredible piece, Hamlet.” she said in a cheery voice and Regina felt like she would vomit. She was clearly from the north like her, but she seemed like she had been there a while and had grown accustomed to life in the South.
“Excuse me…” said a clean cut boy sitting next to her in a quiet voice as the teacher began reading. “My pencil fell and rolled under your desk. It’s right by your foot.” he said as she looked down and saw his pencil. She picked it up and handed it to him. “Thanks.” he said with a smile as he stared at her. She was about to give him one of her ‘what the hell are you looking at?’ looks when she noticed his blue eyes. They were an almost jewel tone blue…not as deep as a sapphire, but not as light as blue topaz either. But that wasn’t the part that was bothering her. She was thrown off by the way he was staring at her. It was almost as if he was attracted to her, but that couldn’t have been the case because she was black and he was white and all that yelling and screaming going on outside wasn’t for nothing.
“Now,” Ms. Sterling began. “Who can tell me what ‘To be or not to be’ means?” she said as Regina raised her hand to answer.
“It was a line meant to question whether to live or die. It also speaks of the fleeting nature of time.” she said as everyone looked at her. Even the pair of jewel tone blue eyes.
“That is correct.” Ms. Sterling said with a smile. “That’s very good…” Ms. Sterling said as she paused to learn her name.
“Regina Morris.” she said trying to avoid the many pairs of eyes on her.
“Is that a Northern accent I hear?” Ms. Sterling asked with a smile and bright eyes.
“Yes, I’m from New York.” she said wondering why Ms. Sterling kept talking to her.
“That’s lovely. Okay, now, we’ll discuss the fight scene…” she trailed off as she continued the lecture. The riot outside the school still haven’t stopped and she was starting to miss her old school more and more with her friends. Suddenly the bell rang for lunch as people left the classroom. “Regina?” Ms. Sterling began. “I can tell you’re going to be a joy to have in this class, and it’s nice to know that I’m not the only Yankee here.”
“It is. Okay, bye.” she said as she left the classroom and walked down the hall. She still heard the noise outside wondering how long it was going to last.
“Excuse me…”someone said coming up to her as she stood at her locker. She turned around to see the cute clean cut boy with jewel tone blue eyes staring at her. “Regina, right?”
“Yeah…” she said knowing she sounded guarded, but she didn’t know what to expect.
“I’m Alan. Alan Bosley. I sat next to you in English. Well, I…” he was saying until a goofy looking black guy came up behind him and slapped him on the back. She thought for sure that there was going to be a fight until the two boys started laughing. “Hey, Petey.”
“Hey, Alan. Now, who is this pretty thing here?” he said as he stared at her as Alan elbowed him with an embarrassed look on his face.
“I’m Regina Morris and I’m out of your league…” she said as she walked away. She heard a group of white and black guys laughing at the, now shamed, goofy looking boy.
She went into the lunch room and saw people still being separated and she didn’t know where she would fit in because she was new and didn’t know anyone whether they were black or white. She figured she would join the crowd and sit at a table full of blacks. She was walking over to the table when she noticed a table full of white and black guys. She saw Alan sitting at the table laughing and joking with the goofy looking guy and a big white guy. She thought she was seeing things, but she could’ve sworn she saw him wave her over to them. She walked over and stood with her tray wondering what was going on.
“Guys, this is Regina. She moved here from New York. Make her feel welcome.” he said as a long haired guy stood up and offered her his seat at the table. “Regina, this is Louie, Petey, Sunshine, Rev…” he said but was stopped by her speaking.
“Hi…” she said awkwardly. “Nice to meet you guys…”
“We’re the Titans.” he said and she finally realized that they were football players. She had forgotten that along with the school, the sports teams and any other clubs were also. “I figured you would want someone to sit with since you’re new.”
“Thanks.” she said as she ate her lunch. She was mostly quiet and was surprised by the warm welcome, but she still felt awkward. She was the only girl at the table so she let the guys talk and joke with each other while she, secretly, stared at Alan. She had to admit he was cute for a white boy. Maybe the school year wasn’t going to be that bad. Yeah right, she thought.