Girl DividedWillow Rose
BUOY MEDIA LLC
EIGHT MONTHS LATER
Books by the Author
About the Author
Two years later
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Copyright Willow Rose 2017
Published by BUOY MEDIA LLC
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
Cover design by Juan Villar Padron,
Special thanks to my editor Janell Parque
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“When two brothers are busy fighting, an evil man can easily attack and rob their poor mother. Mankind should always stay united, standing shoulder to shoulder so evil can never cheat and divide them.”
- Suzy Kassem
“All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.”
- Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers
“As every divided kingdom falls, so every mind divided between many studies confounds and saps itself.”
- Leonardo Da Vinci
"In this decisive hour of our national history, union means life and division means death."
- Bao Dai.
Even the people starting the fire probably could never foresee the havoc and destruction it would cause. Maybe they could and maybe they wanted it. Maybe that was why they did it. But, then again, do people really want war? Or does it just happen?
The people of the Calvary Temple Baptist Church, who met in the red wooden building on Alvin Callender Street in the heart of New Orleans, certainly never thought of this bright and unusually hot Sunday morning as a turning point in history when they arrived at church just before ten o'clock as usual.
To them, it was a Sunday like every other.
Well, that isn't entirely the truth. Something was very different this morning, something that had all the churchgoers’ attention, but it wasn't something they spoke about out loud. Instead, they whispered as they passed, or stared at Tiffany from the pews in front of her with curious eyes and some anxiety.
Tiffany knew they were staring and whispering behind her back, but she cared very little. She loved her newborn baby girl, no matter if people talked and whispered about her freakish appearance. It was, after all, not her fault that she looked the way she did.
How could anyone act like this toward a young child?
Next to Tiffany sat Gregory, her husband. He was sighing and rubbing his forehead, partly because of the heat, but mostly because he was not enjoying the many stares and glances falling upon him, wondering, could he really be the father? How could they have had a little girl like that, being as they were both black? How had they had a child that was half white and half of color?
But the child was his. Tiffany had assured him repeatedly. She had not been with another man. No one could explain why the girl looked like this. Not even the doctors. Maybe it was a lack of melanin, they stated. But no one knew for certain what caused it. There had been records of children with one blue and one brown eye before, but never of one having one entire side of their face and body white, the skin and hair as white as snow, and the other side black and dark as the night.
But that was the way Jetta was. And Tiffany loved her just the same.
"Let's close our eyes and pray," Pastor Lawrence said.
Tiffany did, holding baby Jetta close to her chest while she slept. Only three weeks old and she was the dearest thing. Tiffany had heard so many stories of how the baby would ruin her sleep, but there had been nothing of that sort from Jetta. She had been sleeping…well, like a baby…ever since birth and never fussed much. The quietness along with her appearance had made Tiffany's mother anxious.
"The child is evil, I tell ya," she said, spitting on the floor. She was trying to drive out the demon in her whenever Tiffany wasn't looking. "I can smell it on her skin. Death and decay from the pit of hell. Still smells burnt. She is sent here to destroy us all, I tell ya."
"She is no such thing," Tiffany had told her, laughing even though she was slightly anxious. Her mother had always believed in all that old superstition. Growing up in New Orleans, Tiffany had listened to it all her life. All the nonsense about the spirits and gods walking among us, but Tiffany never quite bought into any of it. Still,
when you have listened to things like that your entire life, you never can stop wondering, what if? What if there is something to what she is saying?
"Nonsense," Tiffany had told her repeatedly. Not just to convince her mother, but also her worried self.
"It's just superstition."
But her mother wouldn't stop. Just this morning, before church, her old mother had looked her straight in the eyes and said:
"This child is a sign that darker times are ahead. I am tellin' you, darker times are ahead of us."
Luckily, Gregory was a Christian and he had taken Tiffany to church once they met, and there, she had finally found something she could believe in: Love. Nothing else. No dancing spirits or darkness lurking around every street corner. Just peace and love. Tiffany refused to let her mother destroy the happiest moment of her entire life by worrying about something so silly.
Jetta made a sound and Tiffany chuckled. Gregory grabbed her hand and squeezed it while Pastor Lawrence spoke.
They didn't even hear the doors being locked from the outside.
The smell was the first thing they noticed. The smell of smoke. Gregory was the first to react. He sniffed the air and looked at Tiffany.
"Do you smell smoke?"
She lifted her nose, then shook her head. "No."
Jetta had opened her eyes and was looking up at her mother. Tiffany's arm was getting tired from holding the baby, but she didn't want to put her down. She was afraid she might cry. Not that she ever cried, at least not yet, but it sure would be bad timing if she started now.
Tiffany chuckled again when her eyes met Jetta's. Such an intense glare from such a small creature. Tiffany couldn't take her eyes off her. She was no longer listening to Pastor Lawrence's preaching - not that she ever really did, as she usually would doze off about halfway through his sermon.
"Okay, good," Gregory said and let it go.
But only for a few minutes. Until someone sitting closer to the door smelled it too. Soon, people were asking other people sitting next to them if they smelled smoke too, and they did. Tiffany smelled it too and soon her blissful smile turned into one of anxiety. Gregory rose to his feet and looked at the pastor.
"Lawrence, I think we need to get people out of here."
But it was too late. The sound of the flames licking the sides of the church was suddenly deafening and Tiffany felt panic rise, not just in her, but also in everyone inside the small building. It rushed through them like a blazing wave.
"FIRE!" someone yelled when she spotted smoke seeping in from under the door.
Screams emerged and people rushed to the doors leading outside. Gregory was in front, making sure Tiffany and the baby were protected from the stampede. He grabbed the handle and shook it, but the door didn't open.
"It's locked," he said.
"Try the emergency exits," Pastor Lawrence said and pointed to both sides, where exit signs were lit up.
It was already getting hotter inside the church and Tiffany felt her heart thump in her chest as she rushed—along with everyone else—toward the exit doors, but as someone grabbed the doors, they couldn't open them either. None of them.
They were trapped.
Tiffany turned her head and looked at Gregory for help. "It's locked, Greg. What are we going to do?"
He looked around, sweat trickling from his forehead. The place was an old movie theater; there were no windows they could crawl out of, no other way out but the doors.
"We're gonna die," some old lady in a pink dress screamed. "We're all gonna die!"
Pastor Lawrence grabbed a chair and threw it at the door, but it just bounced back from the heavy door. He rubbed his head as the entire congregation looked at him for help. Meanwhile, the heat grew stronger…on the verge of unbearable.
"I…I don't know what to do," he said.
Gregory grabbed his cellphone. "I'll call for help," he said. "I'm calling 911 now."
As Gregory spoke to the dispatcher, the fire had already reached the roof, and flaming pieces of the ceiling were falling among them. One fell on the old lady in the pink dress and knocked her to the ground as she cried and screamed for help.
Outside, as the firefighters arrived on the scene, they were met by a group of masked young men. They came with bats, clubs, signs, and faces painted with swastikas, brass knuckles, and—most importantly—guns. When the firefighters yelled at them to move, to get out of the way, the men started to shoot.
They had come to hurt people, and they did.
She was the only survivor. The strange girl with the freakish appearance. As the firefighters and paramedics were finally able to get into the building, after the attackers had run and it had burned completely to the ground, they found her, still in her mother's arms, held tightly against her body. Her mother had tried to cover her face with a scarf, maybe to keep her from breathing smoke, and the media later speculated that maybe that had saved her life. There really wasn't any other explanation for how such a young baby could survive such a thing. It was either that or believe it was a miracle, but people liked the scarf explanation better. It made more sense. The pictures of the blackened mother, holding her infant, saving her life from the flames went around the world faster than any viral pictures of any cat ever had.
And they all agreed. What had happened was an atrocity. It was an act of terrorism. Yet, the perpetrators were never apprehended, and rumors soon began to be murmured that the police weren't doing enough to investigate it because the victims were all black. The world didn't care because they were all people of color and, therefore, their lives of less value than others. Tensions rose, not only in New Orleans but soon it spread to other big cities where clashes between blacks and the police were getting more and more frequent. Riots in the streets became an everyday thing. They marched in what were supposed to be peaceful protests, but some took advantage and smashed store windows and stole, destroying it for all the others. It was a protest, people acting out in despair because they didn't know what else to do because they felt worth less than everyone else in society, the experts explained on TV. But all the world saw was young black boys running amok.
On top of it all, the NFL decided to replace all players who refused to stand during the National Anthem with other players who would, and those replaced players were banned completely from ever playing again.
Meanwhile, Jetta was left in the care of her grandmother, who, on a regular basis, did her banishing rituals to try and push out the demon from inside the young girl. She would sing and chant and burn incense along with strange smelling candles and leave crystals all over the house to purify the place. She would even try and force the girl to eat herbs that she spat out just as fast as they came into her mouth.
Jetta didn't seem to mind much. She grew older and stronger, even though it was still whispered as she walked the streets with her grandmother that she was a witch, a demon sent to curse them, and that the fire had happened because of her.
Being only six years old, Jetta didn't care much what people said and her grandmother decided she couldn't hide her forever. The girl needed fresh air from time to time.
"So, let them talk," she finally concluded.
The old grandmother was becoming quite smitten with the little girl and cared deeply for her, even though she still believed she was sent from the evil spirits to curse them all. The way the world was going these days, it wouldn't matter much anyway. It could hardly get much worse, now could it?
Then the president was shot.
As soon as they found out the assassin had been black, things went from bad to worse for people of color. They weren't allowed to go to white schools anymore and couldn't even shop in same shops as whites without being harassed. Daily attacks on black neighborhoods followed. People were killed in the streets by masked men with swastikas on their sleeves, some beaten to death with clubs, others shot in front of their own
houses. Even young children were killed for simply being of the same race as the man who had shot the president.
The assassin, it turned out, was part of an underground movement of people fighting for black separatism, called Black Liberty. Their goal was to be separated from the whites and, soon, that was exactly what happened.