Cove Alpa – The Grass Story 7: Apologies Never Mean Much/Redemption
By Mensa Smith
I feel fuzzy. My head hurts and I don’t know why, but I know I have things to do and fast. Physical ailments aside, it’s my mind and heart that are really in pain. I made too many mistakes over the past few days that are costing me more and more every minute I lie here and wallow in my pity. What matters most is that she knows that I’m sorry. She needs to know that I’m sorry.
My 18th birthday was a few days ago, and I couldn’t have asked for more. My girlfriend, Madison, was the core and honestly the only reason for that. She’s the reason I woke up and went to sleep happy that day. She took me out, we had a great dinner at a local restaurant I always wanted to try, and had a just-for-us type of day. Nothing too special outside of the massage parlor we did together. She even bought me the varsity jacket I wanted since I was fifteen years old, and I almost got cupcakes but she remembered too late and visibly felt bad about it. But that day, I finally knew what it was like to be celebrated. To be appreciated, you know? I didn’t, and today I feel like I threw all of that away.
My birthday was the first day she admitted that she loved me. I already had the feeling that she was crazy enough to actually be in love with me, but, when you actually hear it, you can’t help but be taken back. Growing up in the Grass, nobody really loves us. Not our teachers, not our fathers, not these hoes, not the cops, nobody really. So for Madison to tell me she loved me? It felt like I waited my whole life to believe somebody loved me. Karma could have come around and I could have lost my life that day. And you know what? I’d have felt accomplished because somebody finally saw enough in me to love me.
So where did things go wrong? I’m not even sure that matters, but it all started because of a small joke. Our sense of humors don’t really align, so that was my first mistake. I made a comment about something in her past and it was entirely too insensitive of me to say. We fought about it because I thought she was being too sensitive, but I can’t tell her how to feel about something. I should have just apologized, but try getting that through to me when my ego and temper are high.
When I calmed down, I tried calling her. She didn’t pick up the first seven attempts, but on the eighth she finally answered:
“What, Ivan!” she answered abruptly.
“Baby I just wanna…”
She hung up on me, so I decided I wasn’t going to try to call anymore. At least if I sent a text message, she’d at least read it before she deleted it and condemned me until she felt like speaking. The text message read:
“Ugh. You can really be so stubborn. Maddy I understand that it was wrong for me to make that comment and joke. I understand that I shouldn’t be so coarse when it comes to you and that if I don’t scale it back I can end up losing you. All I ever want to do is make you smile and that joke was an attempt to make light of a situation. I see now that it didn’t work and that it would have been a much better idea to keep my mouth closed. I love you. I write things about you and maybe someday I’ll share them with you when I’m done being afraid of truly expressing my overwhelming feelings for you. Please don’t take my poor joke and run with it as if that’s how I feel about you or anything you’ve done. I accept you for you in your entirety. I just use things like humor to help me get over my personal issues with the truth that I have to accept. It’s a coping mechanism, and it’s admittedly a bad one. I’ll try to be better for you, so please accept my apology. Or not. Just please read this and see that I’m truly sorry for what I did and that it will not happen again. I promise you that much. Goodnight, Madison.”
The next day at school we passed each other in the hallway and didn’t say anything to each other. Pride wouldn’t let me do it, and I’m sure the same could be said for her. Never mind the murder I just committed or the fact that Milan died when we weren’t on the best of terms. All of that has to be pushed to the side because I can’t lose another person do to my own flaws. Especially not Madison. Right after I passed her, I looked back to see where she was. She wasn’t there, and it felt like a missed opportunity to say something. I knew where she was heading because I knew her schedule, but at that point she probably would have just walked into class and ignored my presence.
After school was when I had my chance to stop her. I caught up to her at the corner as she was headed to her train station. She was walking with some guy I didn’t recognize at first, and that bothered me.
“Madison! We need to talk!” I shouted as I caught up to her.
“About what, Ivy?” Madison replied as she turned around.
“About what happened last night. You just wanna act like it never happened? I’m sorry.”
“All of that is true, but I just don’t wanna talk to you or about this right now.”
“So who’s that guy?
“You mean Wayne? Wayne and I live in the same neighborhood and I’m taking the train home with him today.”
“What the fuck does that mean, Madison?”
“First of all, watch your tone. Secondly, it means what it sounds like. I’m taking the train home with a friend.”
“Nah. That’s dead. Fuck a Wayne. I’m taking the train with you.”
“Hey buddy? Yeah, you can go. Change of plans.” I told the guy while giving him a thumbs up.
“Hey Madison, should I leave?” Wayne asked, looking confused.
“Ugh! Yes, go ahead. I’ll see you tomorrow.” she told Wayne as he was walking away.
“Maybe not, my nigga. Don’t plan on seeing her anytime soon.” I said while saluting him.
“Ivy! I’m still not talking to you!”
“Well you’ll just have to listen, then,” I replied while trying to hold her arm.
“NO! Go home!” Madison shouted as she pulled away from me, backing up into the street into oncoming traffic.
A small two door Mazda was turning the corner fast and unexpectedly.
“Madison! Look out!” I shouted.
Diving to push her out of the way, I pushed Madison out of the way just in time and the car I pushed her in front of stopped abruptly right before it could hit her. I, however, wasn’t that lucky. I landed on the hood of the car as it was turning the corner at twenty miles an hour. I bounced off the hood of the car and rolled onto the concrete and hit my forehead against the ground, and then I fell unconscious. The last thing I remember was Madison’s screaming “IVY!”
So now we’re back to where I started, in the hospital feeling fuzzy and short of recent memories. I roll over and see Madison’s trembling body holding my right arm, which is in a cast.
“Oh my God, Ivy! Are you okay?”
“I feel fine. A little woozy, but I’ll be okay. Just tell me you forgive me.”
“Good!” Madison said as she hit me in the chest.
“Ow! What was that for?” I said, laughing and coughing at the same time.
“Ew, cover your mouth! But that’s for scaring me you big doofus! Don’t ever get hit by a car again!” she said as she leaned over to kiss my forehead.
“Now what was that for?” I said while holding back a smile.
“That was for saving my life even when I was being hard headed and stubborn. Thank you for risking your body that way. Things like that are the reason I love you. You care about me always and I see that. I wish I took your apology sooner because then this wouldn’t have happened. This is all my fault and I don’t ever wanna lose you like this. I don’t want to lose you to the world, Ivy. Please don’t, don’t leave me. You have to promise me you won’t let something or somebody take you away from me.” she said, choked up, while holding back tears in her eyes.
“Madison, don’t put this whole thing on yourself. It’s not your fault I’m an asshole with a bad sense of humor. We all make mistakes, but this one is not on you. I believe in God’s plan and somehow, this was all apart of it.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. It may not make sense now, but it will somewhere down the line. Everything happens for a reason and plays an important role in where we end up in life.”
“Okay Ivy. I love you.”
“I love you too, Maddy. Now leave me alone so I can get some rest.”
“Ugh, you tried it!”
I was released from the hospital after they did a few diagnostics and made sure the fall I took didn’t do any long term damage to my head. I got prescribed a painkiller and some rest, so I should be okay for now. I feel better about what happened between me and my girlfriend, but you should know by now that’s not the end of the road. Something terrible has to happen, or this isn’t The Grass I know and love.
So word on the street is they’re looking for the guy who shot that drug dealer Milan was messing with before she died. My camp is tight and I didn’t tell anyone it was me, but there’s always somebody in the hood smart enough to put two and two together. I was close to Milan and Milan was vocal about how much she loved me. If anybody close to Milan had the juice to get that man killed, it was me. Somebody somewhere knows that, and it is only a matter of time until they come knocking at my door.
Ivy Iceburg is a little too smart for that, though. I know when they’re coming, and I know how to prepare myself for it. I can do things the street way, or I can do things the smart way. I think I’ll just disappear the way I did for most of the school year because I can’t have people seeing me with my girlfriend. I need to protect myself and my woman first, and hopefully this one doesn’t come back to me. In the meantime, I have to prepare for Milan’s funeral.
Milan’s mother asked me to speak at her funeral because I knew her for a long time and I was her “smartest friend.” I couldn’t tell a woman who just lost her baby to a drug overdose “no,” so I graciously accepted. Asking me for a speech is like asking Kanye West for a speech, though; you can only know that the speaker believes what he is saying. Nobody knows what I’m going to say, but it will be truthful. The nature of the truth is that you’ll like some parts and dislike others, but ultimately you’re better off once you accept it. Milan was a good friend, though, so I’ll try to do her some justice.
The funeral comes around about a week later. It was a Thursday evening, and all of Milan’s friends were in attendance. It’s a shame the kind of people Milan associated herself with; most of the girls were groping at me with their MAC lipstick and designer purses, and the guys all wore their jeans below their waist to show off their designer belts. I mean I’m all for the hood, but you have to know when to leave certain things at the door and be a respected member of society. My girlfriend came to support me in my speech. As the funeral went on, I got more and more nervous. I didn’t prepare a speech. It was always my intention to go on and speak from the heart, but I’m second guessing that. I can see my girlfriend from the corner of my eye judging me as she knew I didn’t listen to her when she told me to write something. My time to speak came, and I walked up to the podium.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen. At this point, I’m certain we all know what we’re gathered here today for. I’m not sure that all of you know me, but my name is Ivan Jones. Milan and I went to middle school together, so I’d known her for the last 7 or 8 years of her life. Seeing her pass really hurt me, and the reason for her death hurt me even more. The Milan I grew to know was not a drug addict. I didn’t know her to be a nasty girl. I knew her to have a big heart, full of love, and nobody to give it to. When you’re carrying as much love as she was, you have to give it to somebody. Unfortunately for her, the Grass is full of people looking to take advantage of our big hearts and star-filled eyes. She got involved with the wrong guy, and I tried to tell her that. But when does a broken heart listen to anything but what it wants to hear? She knew very well that she didn’t have to be with him, but she felt like she had nowhere else to turn. So this funeral? This girl’s life? That’s on us, ladies and gentlemen. We failed Milan as a community. We weren’t there for her when she needed us. I wasn’t there for her, and there’s no easy way to forgive myself. I just want to apologize to Milan’s mother and family for failing her. I want apologize to Milan for failing her.
You see, society is designed to do this to us. It’s designed to make us feel used, abused, and unwanted because it weakens our will to fight. It weakens our desire to be independent and it hooks us onto things like social media and advertisement. This way, the powers that be can fill our head with ideas we don’t need that end up making somebody else’s bottom line look better while we look worse. We, as a community, are the guinea pigs the powers that be want to drain. They want us to forever be their consumer. We’re the ultimate customer when you think about it. How many of you in the crowd are wearing something you had to save a couple paychecks to buy? How many of you realize that the money you spent lost value the minute you decided to use that item you saved up so much for. We wasted money the same way we wasted time on Milan. We are taught from birth how to waste our resources. We’re taught how to waste our money, how to waste our time, and how to waste our love. Love Gucci, not your daughters. Love diamonds, not your sons. Don’t buy a book, buy a blunt. If we don’t look ourselves in the mirror and decide to make the change? We’ll be having more funerals. We’ll have more Milans, more heartbroken mothers, and more guilt on our shoulders. Milan was a good friend, a sweet girl, and a smart girl. When she was on the hospital bed, she told me everything that happened to her she deserved and that she could never be the girl that my girlfriend is. It broke my heart to hear that because that girl was seventeen years of age when she gave up on herself. She thought she deserved to be beat and raped. Why on earth did we allow her to believe that? Where were we when the problem with her was getting so bad? The most heinous crime of all is negligence. To neglect an issue when we have the tools to solve a problem? We should all be ashamed of ourselves. Let Milan’s death be a lesson to us all; good girls go bad when their communities fail them.”
I put the microphone down and walked back to my seat. The room was dead silent and everybody was looking at me and my girlfriend. My girlfriend held my hand tight. She was letting me know that through it all, she was there to support me and that she will not let me feel alone. She was letting me know that she refused to fail me, and I appreciated that. After a minute, the pastor thanked me for my “moving speech” and then proceeded on with the funeral. Madison left before the end of the funeral, but I stuck around to support Milan’s mother.
As everyone was getting ready to leave, a black van pulled up in front of the funeral home. I knew what this was going to be, so I immediately screamed “DRIVE BY” and hit the floor. The van door slid open and three men with guns pointed at the funeral home and proceeded to shoot at us. After about 15 seconds, they closed the van door and drove off screaming “FUCK THAT JUNKIE BITCH!” I got up after they left to check if everyone was okay, and I saw that Milan’s mother had been shot in the chest. Nobody else got hit.
How do I repent for my actions? How do I redeem myself for all the damage my could decisions have caused? This month I’ve been involved in the deaths of three people. I’m not this dark, murderous human being, but death seems to follow me. I guess apologies never mean much, and that we need to redeem ourselves in the eyes of God first. From here on out, I promise to be a better man. I’m eighteen now, but I feel as if I’ve been through a lifetime of drama. At this point, I just want to go to church with my girl on Sundays and forget about the Grass.