Page 5


Excerpt from Shades of Blue


The teacher sat in the back of the classroom grading papers as her students watched a sex education video.

Deja, Cedric and Creshonda sat in the front. Creshonda nudged Deja. “I could have taught this class.” Deja laughed. “Naw, “I’m just kidding.”

Cedric butted in. “No you’re not.”

“What are you trying to say, Ced?”

“I’m just saying that you know a lot more than Deja does about sex education.”

“I know you’re not trying to say my name is on the wall in the men’s room.”

Cedric laughed. “Naw, naw. I just know you’re not a virgin like Deja.” He smiled at Deja. “She’s waiting on her knight in shinning armor,” he added. Creshonda looked at Deja.

“Poor thing. Would you tell her he ain’t coming.” He chuckled and looked at the screen. "Shhh. Ms Graves might hear you," Deja told her.

"Please. She's death in one ear and blind in one eye," Creshonda said. They laughed. Creshonda leaned back and whispered. “So, what did you hear about me? I’ve only been with one guy.” Cedric cleared his throat. “Okay-okay; two guys. I didn’t want to remember the second one; he bored me to tears.” The three of them laughed behind her comment.

When the film ended, Ms. Graves turned the lights on and reviewed the highlights of the film. The bell rang and everyone was on the way out of the classroom. Before they reached the door, Ms. Graves spoke…

“I just wanted to let you all know that Creshonda will be teaching the class tomorrow.”

* * *

Deja and one of her best friends, Angela, arrived at the party at 9:15 p.m. Angela was driving and it took her about five minutes to back into a parking spot. Deja kept her thoughts to herself, but laughed on the inside the whole time Angela was trying to park. Angela had recently gotten her license and still lacked confidence in her driving.

Deja’s other best friend, Cedric, was giving the party. He was in Deja’s 3rd and 5th hour classes. They worked together occasionally on assignments, and had a brother-sister relationship.

Deja and Angela could hear Mary J. Blige playing from the street. There were so many people there that Cedric had to move the party from the basement to the back yard. When they walked into the back yard, heads turned. They were sharp. They were known as the best dressed girls in school. A crowd came to greet them.

“What’s up squares?” Deja said. Angela smiled at the girls and focused on Faye and Creshonda as Sabrina stood by.

“Y’all can’t make it to school on time, but you’re plenty early for a party,” Angela said. Faye laughed. “Un-un. That’s Creshonda. I keep telling her she’s not gonna graduate.”

Creshonda laughed. “Forget y’all. As long as Deja keeps letting me peep over her shoulder, I will.” Sabrina looked at Creshonda.

“What are you gonna do when you get your first job and Deja’s not there to bail you out?”

“I’ll have you know I passed that last test and Deja was absent.” Angela cleared her throat before speaking.

“Wasn’t that the day you sat by Cedric?” Creshonda laughed.

“Shut up. That was between us!”

Cedric spotted Deja and came over. They greeted each other and hugged.

“I thought you were only inviting a few people.”

“That’s what I thought too, but I guess the word got around. I see people I don’t even know.”

“The music is bumpin,’” Angela told him as her shoulders humped up and down.

“You wait, I got some new stuff y’all gonna love.”

“As long as we can step,” Deja said. She wiggled slightly then looked at Cedric.

“I have an idea,” she said.

“I bet I know what it is.”

She smiled. “Can I?” Deja asked.

“I’ll think about it.”

“Come on Ced. It’ll be fun.”

“All right, all right,” he said. “You can do karaoke, but wait until ten.”

Deja and Angela loved to dance. They danced off and on for the next hour with routines they put together before the party. Afterward, Deja went in the house and came back with the karaoke machine.

Creshonda ran over to Deja and threw her arms in the air. “Oooh, I’m going first,” she said.

Deja looked at Angela who agreed. “I think she should go first.”

Deja faced the crowd. “Good evening everyone. As you all know, I’m Deja Meriweather, and I will be your karaoke host this evening. For those of you who are brave enough, sign up right over here.” Angela pointed to the list as if she were a model on The Price is Right. Deja continued. “Right now, I would like to introduce our first act, Ms. Creshonda Wells. No kin to Mary Wells, I might add. And Creshonda will be singing Sweet Thing by Chaka Khan.” Creshonda cut her eyes at Deja and smiled at the audience.

“What she meant to say was Mary J. Blige.”

Deja and Angela looked at each other and shook their heads. Then three guys in the crowd started scratching the name Chaka Khan—Chaka Khan.

“What ever,” Creshonda said. She began her song and Deja and Angela stood behind her as backup, rocking from side to side. Half way through the song, people began to turn their backs and engage in conversation. Creshonda never knew it because her eyes were closed through the entire performance. When she finished, her closest friends clapped loudly so it would appear she was a hit. She took a bow and turned to Deja and Angela. She felt like a star. “I tore that song up, didn’t I?” Cedric came by just in time to answer.

“You sure did,” he said with a smile. He looked at Deja and asked who was next and walked away. Creshonda looked at Deja and Angela and pushed her hair behind her ear.

“So, was he trying to be funny?”

They looked at each other. “Naw, girl, you were good."


Deja left Cedric in the house while he talked with his parents. She went back out to join Angela who was sitting with Kevin. She smiled and walked over to Creshonda, Sabrina and Faye and joined them instead. Ten minutes later, Angela approached them with Kevin at her side.

“Deja, what was all the commotion about?”

“A polyester shirt.”

Angela’s mouth fell open. Then she turned to Kevin and introduced him to Deja. He smiled and said hello and Deja returned his greeting. He was handsome. She could see why Angela was attracted to him.

“Deja, we’ll be right back. We’re going to run to the store. All of the pop is gone.”

“Okay, I’ll be here. Don’t forget, I told my parents I would be home by 12:45.”

“Okay, we won’t be long.”

Angela was gone about ten minutes when commotion erupted at the party again. Everybody stood by as the two guys argued. The guy who left the party earlier was back. Suddenly, the other guy was backing away and the one who came back was waving a gun. The other guy ran as shots were being fired at him. Every body started running at the same time. Some were running to their cars, and others were trying to get in the side door of the house. The door was blocked and Deja ran down the street. Cars were speeding by in both directions. She was three blocks from home but had to pass the park to get there. She ran for several minutes then slowed down to catch her breath. She was closer to Cedric’s home than her own and wondered if she should go back. Maybe the guy with the gun was gone by now. She wasn’t sure if it was safe. She wondered what Angela would think when she came back and the party was over. She knew Cedric would be furious because that was surely his last party. An eerie feeling came over her, but she tried to replace it with thoughts of Angela’s expression when she had just learned that Kevin was interested in her. She heard something and turned around. A lone car had passed and she hastened her pace. She heard more noises but saw no one. She started to run but was grabbed from behind. He covered her mouth with his hands. She struggled to get away but his grip was tight. She could smell his cologne. She continued to struggle as her heart raced, and tears ran down her face. She tried to bite the hand that covered her mouth, and to stump his feet but she couldn’t. The last thing Deja heard was the pounding of her own heart. Her body fell limp and he dragged her into the park.


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