“The Day After” by S. K. Lee

cropped-forum-vector-copy.jpg

The Day After

by S. K. Lee

“Here you go, Cristina.” said Agatha as she handed me a cup of coffee. “Thanks, I could use some caffeine. I only got a few hours of sleep last night.” I said as I took a sip. The coffee was nice and hot, perfect for a cold and cloudy autumn day. “I don’t think my parents got any sleep at all.” I said as we began walking down the street. My parents and the millions of undocumented immigrants in the country had a rude awakening the previous night. A man who promised to round up and deport all of them, had been elected president.

“How are they?” asked Agatha. She had that familiar worried look on her face. I had seen it before when her daughter Annie had the flu. It warmed my heart to know I had such a good friend that cared about my family. “They’re scared.” I said as my voice began to tremble. “If he keeps his promise, my parents…my aunts…my uncles…they’re all going to be rounded up…and then…” I couldn’t finish the sentence. I didn’t want to even imagine what would happen to them. As I started to tear up, Agatha wrapped her arm around my shoulders to comfort me.

“Everything is going to be okay, Cristina.”

“How do you know that? You don’t know that, Agatha!”

“I know if he tries anything crazy, the people won’t stand for it.”

“The people? Are you fucking kidding me?! The people are the ones who just elected a racist, sexist, xenophobe as our next president! What the fuck is wrong with our country?!” I shouted as tears began to roll down my cheek. Agatha pulled out a tissue from her pocket and gently wiped away the tears on my eyes and cheek.

We continued walking down the street as we drank our coffee and could hear the conversations of people as they walked by. Everyone was talking about the same thing. As the country was preparing to have its first female president, a man whom no one gave any chance of winning, had actually won. Some were in disbelief over what had happened. “Holy shit! I can’t believe what just happened!” said one man. “I can’t believe it either. Shit, all the polls and pundits said she was gonna win. How could they have all been wrong?!” said another. Some were trying to make sense of what happened. “People didn’t come out to vote. If people had come out to vote, she would have won.” said a woman. Others were talking conspiracy theories. “I bet you he must have fucking cheated. He’s a fucking cheater!” shouted an old man. The one thing everyone had in common was that they were very angry. Agatha quickened her pace as we walked past them. She had that familiar worried look again.

“Hey, why the worried look?” I asked. “You shouldn’t have anything to worry about.”

“Well, it’s just, they all seem so angry.” said Agatha. “You don’t think they’re going to get violent and riot, do you?”

“What? Of course not. I mean, they’re angry and they’ll probably protest. Shit, I might even join them but I think you’ve gotten us confused with the other side. If she had won, you can bet all his supporters would be rioting and setting fire to things.”

“I hope you’re right, Cristina.” said Agatha as she kept an eye on the people we had just passed. They had formed a group and were getting larger and louder. They started chanting, “Not My President!” After we had gotten a half block away and the chanting faded, Agatha began to look more relieved. When we got to the end of the street, we made a right turn.

“Hey, are we headed to Annie’s school?” I asked.

“Yeah, Annie should be done soon.” said Agatha.

“What? I thought school won’t be over for another three hours?” I said with a puzzled look.

“Usually that’s true but today some of the teachers didn’t show up and the ones that did weren’t in the mood to teach so they’re letting the kids off early. It’s kind of silly if you ask me.”

“Can you blame them after what just happened? I wouldn’t be surprised if they took the rest of the week off.”

“Come on, Cristina, that would be going too far. The world didn’t end last night. We have to keep moving.” said Agatha with a stern look.

“Wow, nothing fazes you Agatha. I wish I was as strong as you.”

“You are strong, in your own way.” said Agatha, smiling as she held my hand.

“I wished that were true. If anything were to happen to my family..I would fucking lose it.” I said as I clutched my coffee cup.

We continued walking toward Annie’s elementary school. It was an old school built in the early 1900s, made up of two buildings, one holding the classrooms and the other, a gym. When we got near the entrance, there was a shout, “Hey! Cristina! Agatha!” Across the street was an old woman with a cane waving her left hand. “Auntie Flo, what the hell are you doing here?” I asked after we crossed the street. My aunt was named Flora Flores but we all called her Auntie Flo. She was in her sixties and needed a cane to walk around but she was energetic and young at heart.

“Cristina Flores, is that any way to greet your dear old aunt?” said Flora with a glare.

“Sorry, Auntie Flo.” I replied sheepishly.

“You’ll have to forgive her, Mrs. Flores. She’s not in a good mood right now” said Agatha.

“I imagine many people aren’t in a good mood right now.” said Flora. “That’s why I’m taking a walk. I can’t sit still after what happened.”

“Auntie Flo, maybe it’s not safe for you to be out.” I said.

“Nonsense, what are they going to do? Round me up?” said Flora.

“Yes, that’s exactly what he said he’s going to do.” I replied.

“They wouldn’t dare! This is a sanctuary city. I’ve been here for over twenty years. I’ve even learned the language. If they try to kick me out, I’m going to give them a whooping!” shouted Flora as she waved her cane around.

“Alright, calm down Auntie Flo you’re going to make a scene.” I said as the parents across the street waiting for their children had turned to see who was shouting.

“Damn right I’ll make scene if they try anything!” said Flora waving her cane. “I still can’t believe it. Why did people vote for that racist? What has this country become that we can elect someone like him to be president?”

“Maybe the people are trying to send a message.” replied Agatha. Auntie Flo and I both turned to her, a little surprised.

“And what message is that?” I said as I began to get heated. “That it’s okay to round up and deport 11 million immigrants? That it’s okay to ban all Muslims from entering the country? That it’s okay to fucking grab a woman by the pussy?!”

“Maybe the message is that some people are hurting and need help.” replied Agatha. “They’ve lost their jobs and can’t find another to support their family. They feel like they’re being ignored and…”

“Oh. My. Fucking. God.” I interrupted as my face looked like I had just eaten something rotten. It was beginning to sound like my friend was actually defending that clown. “Don’t tell me you voted for him. Do not tell me you fucking voted for him!”

Agatha paused for a moment, then with a stern look replied, “I felt he would be the best person to help the economy and create jobs. Lord knows I could use one.”

“I can’t believe it.” I said, with a stunned look on my face while Auntie Flo was shocked speechless and leaning on her cane with both hands. I didn’t want to believe what I just heard. This was someone I had known since middle school. This was someone whose child I became a godparent to. This was someone whom we considered family and she had just betrayed us. “You actually voted for him? I thought I knew you but I never suspected you were really a racist.”

“Hey, I’m not a racist. I don’t agree with everything he says.” said Agatha.

“Do you have any idea what you’ve just fucking done?!” I shouted as I threw my coffee cup to the ground. The lid broke open and the coffee splattered on the sidewalk. “You’ve just help elect someone who wants to round up 11 million people and kick them out! People like my parents and uncles and aunts!”

“He only wants to deport the criminals. I’m sure your family will be alright, Cristina.”

“That’s bullshit, Agatha!” I shouted, as my eyes burned with rage. “He’s said numerous times that he wants to deport all undocumented immigrants. All this time I thought you cared about my family but you only care about yourself!” I shouted,  pointing my finger directly in front of her face.

Agatha was a little shook for a moment but she then had that stern look on her face. “You see, this is why I didn’t want to say anything. I knew you were going to be this way.”

“And what way did you expect me to be? Did you expect me to be fucking happy about it?!”

“No, I expected you to be an overreacting, angry bitch!” Agatha spat out.

I was incensed. I was so heated, I couldn’t think straight.“You know what, fuck you Agatha!” I shouted as I slapped her nearly empty coffee cup from from her hand, sending it flying onto the middle of the street. “I can’t be friends with a racist. I don’t want to ever see you again!” I turned and stormed off down the sidewalk. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. Agatha was supposed to be my friend. How could she do this to me and my family?

*     *     *

I turned the corner and headed to the coffee shop. It was a cold and cloudy autumn day and some coffee would be perfect. As I approached the shop, I noticed it wasn’t as busy and crowded as usual. The few people that were there had solemn faces. It was as if there had been a funeral. I went up to the counter and saw that all the employees had that same solemn look. “Hi, I ordered two coffees.” I said. “Name?” The girl at the counter replied. “Agatha Jones.” I said. The girl handed me two coffees and I promptly left. The eerie silence was making me feel uneasy.

As I walked down the street, a familiar voice shouted out, “Fucking unbelievable! Can you believe what just happened!” Walking down the street toward me was my good friend, Cristina. She seemed to be in disbelief over the events of the previous night. I couldn’t blame her. Things would probably get complicated for her family.

“I can’t believe it either. All the polls and pundits said she was going to win.” I said.

“Well, they were all wrong!” said Cristina with a scowl on her face.

“Here you go, Cristina.” I said as I handed her a cup of coffee.

“Thanks, I could use some caffeine. I only got a few hours of sleep last night.” she said as she took a sip. I took a sip as well. The coffee was nice and hot. “I don’t think my parents got any sleep at all.” Cristina said as we began walking down the street.

“How are they?” I asked.

“They’re scared.” she said. I could hear the fear in her voice. “If he keeps his promise, my parents…my aunts…my uncles…they’re all going to be rounded up…and then…” Cristina stopped and began to tear up.

“Everything is going to be okay, Cristina.” I said as I wrapped my arm around her shoulders.

“How do you know that? You don’t know that, Agatha!” shouted Cristina.

“I know if he tries anything crazy, the people won’t stand for it.”

“The people? Are you fucking kidding me?! The people are the ones who just elected a racist, sexist, xenophobe as our next president! What the fuck is wrong with our country?!” Cristina shouted as tears began to roll down her cheek. I quickly reached into my pocket and pulled out a tissue. I began to gently wipe away the tears on her eyes and cheek. It hurt me to see her like this.

As we walked down the street, we could hear the conversations of people as they walked by. Everyone was talking about the election and they all seemed very angry with the results. I began to feel worried about what would happen to me if they knew what I did. I quickened my pace and we were soon past all of them.

“Hey, why the worried look?” Cristina asked. “You shouldn’t have anything to worry about.”

“Well, it’s just, they all seem so angry.” I said. “You don’t think they’re going to get violent and riot, do you?”

“What? Of course not. I mean, they’re angry and they’ll probably protest. Shit, I might even join them but I think you’ve gotten us confused with the other side. If she had won, you can bet all his supporters would be rioting and setting fire to things.”

“I hope you’re right, Cristina.” I said. I still kept an eye on the people we had just passed. They were forming into a large group. I could hear them shouting “Not My President!” over and over. The chanting began to make me feel anxious but after about a half block, the chanting became a whisper. I felt relieved but still a little anxious of running into more protesters. At the end of the street, we turned right and headed toward my daughter Annie’s school.

“Hey, are we headed to Annie’s school?” Cristina asked.

“Yeah, Annie should be done soon.” I said.

“What? I thought school won’t be over for another three hours?” Cristina said with a puzzled look.

“Usually that’s true but today some of the teachers didn’t show up and the ones that did weren’t in the mood to teach so they’re letting the kids off early. It’s kind of silly if you ask me.”

“Can you blame them after what just happened?  I wouldn’t be surprised if they took the rest of the week off.”

“Come on, Cristina, that would be going too far. The world didn’t end last night. We have to keep moving.” I said firmly. The thought of people taking time off just because they didn’t like the results of an election just seemed too ridiculous to me.

“Wow, nothing fazes you Agatha. I wish I was as strong as you.”

“You are strong, in your own way.” I said, smiling as I took hold of her hand. I tried to comfort her as best I could.

“I wished that were true. If anything were to happen to my family…I would fucking lose it.” Cristina said. I could feel her hand grip mine tightly.

As we continued walking down the street, I began to wonder if I should tell Christina what I did. We voted for whom we thought would help our family the most. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for the same person. She was my friend, maybe she would understand. But she was also the kind of person who would get very emotional about things so I decided to wait for things to cool down first.

As we got to the old building that served as Annie’s elementary school, we heard a shout, “Hey! Cristina! Agatha!” It was Cristina’s Aunt, waving to us from across the street. She seemed very energetic for someone in her sixties.

As we crossed the street, Cristina asked, “Auntie Flo, what the hell are you doing here?”

“Cristina Flores, is that any way to greet your dear old aunt?” said Flora with a glare. Having known Flora for a number of years, I knew she wouldn’t take being talked to like that.

“Sorry, Auntie Flo.” Cristina replied.

“You’ll have to forgive her, Mrs. Flores. She’s not in a good mood right now.” I said.

“I imagine many people aren’t in a good mood right now.” said Flora. “That’s why I’m taking a walk. I can’t sit still after what happened.”

“Auntie Flo, maybe it’s not safe for you to be out.” Cristina said.

“Nonsense, what are they going to do? Round me up?” said Flora.

“Yes, that’s exactly what he said he’s going to do.” Cristina replied.

“They wouldn’t dare! This is a sanctuary city. I’ve been here for over twenty years. I’ve even learned the language. If they try to kick me out, I’m going to give them a whooping!” shouted Flora. By now she was waving her cane around and attracting attention.

“Alright, calm down Auntie Flo you’re going to make a scene.” Cristina said as she looked around. The parents across the street began to stare at us.

“Damn right I’ll make scene if they try anything!” shouted Flora. “I still can’t believe it. Why did people vote for that racist? What has this country become that we can elect someone like him to be president?”

“Maybe the people are trying to send a message.” I replied. Flora and Cristina both turned toward me with a puzzled look on their faces.

“And what message is that?” Cristina said. I could see in her eyes she was beginning to get heated. “That it’s okay to round up and deport 11 million immigrants? That it’s okay to ban all Muslims from entering the country? That it’s okay to fucking grab a woman by the pussy?!”

“Maybe the message is that some people are hurting and need help.” I replied calmly as I didn’t want things to escalate. “They’ve lost their jobs and can’t find another to support their family. They feel like they’re being ignored and…”

“Oh. My. Fucking. God.” Cristina interrupted as her face looked crooked with anger. “Don’t tell me you voted for him. Do not tell me you fucking voted for him!”

The moment I had been dreading had arrived. I had wanted to wait for a better time but it looked like I now had no choice. I turned to face Cristina and replied, “I felt he would be the best person to help the economy and create jobs. Lord knows I could use one.”

“I can’t believe it.” Cristina said. “You actually voted for him? I thought I knew you but I never suspected you were really a racist.” I could see on both their faces that they were stunned by the revelation. Flora was leaning on her cane with both hands, shaking a little.

“Hey, I’m not a racist. I don’t agree with everything he says.” I said. I couldn’t believe she just called me a racist. She knew me better than that.

“Do you have any idea what you’ve just fucking done?!” Cristina shouted as she threw her coffee cup to the ground. “You’ve just help elect someone who wants to round up 11 million people and kick them out! People like my parents and uncles and aunts!”

“He only wants to deport the criminals. I’m sure your family will be alright, Cristina.”

“That’s bullshit, Agatha!” shouted Cristina. I could now see rage in her eyes. It was something I thought would never have been directed at me. “He’s said numerous times that he wants to deport all undocumented immigrants. All this time I thought you cared about my family but you only care about yourself!” Cristina shouted as she pointed her finger only a few inches from my face.

I was a little surprised for a moment but I shouldn’t have been. I had a feeling her reaction would be like this but not to this degree. “You see, this is why I didn’t want to say anything. I knew you were going be this way.”

“And what way did you expect me to be? Did you expect me to be fucking happy about it?!”

“No, I expected you to be an overreacting, angry bitch!” I shouted back.

“You know what, fuck you Agatha!” Cristina screamed as she slapped my coffee cup from my hand. “I can’t be friends with a racist. I don’t want to ever see you again!” She turned and stormed off down the sidewalk. I was shocked at what had just happened. I thought I was doing the right thing for my family but in the process ended up losing a good friend.

*     *     *

“Cristina, please, wait!” I could hear Agatha plead but I couldn’t stand to see her face right now so I just continued walking. I slightly turned my head and from the corner of my eye, I saw Auntie Flo talking to Agatha. Auntie Flo then turned and walked down the sidewalk toward me.

“What were you two talking about?” I asked.

“I told her respect your wish and never see you again.” said Flora. “She then wanted to wait a couple of weeks for you to cool down before trying to patch things up with you.”

“A couple of weeks?” I said. “You mean Thanksgiving dinner? Does she actually think she’s going to come over to our house for Thanksgiving after what she’s done?!” I turned towards Agatha and saw her daughter, my goddaughter, Annie with her blonde, twin pigtails bouncing as she walked. As she approached her mother, she noticed me and turned to wave, her face beaming. She hugged her mother then started walking home, holding each other’s hand. God, why did I have to see her smiling face. She’s been to our Thanksgiving dinners ever since she was born. I was angry at Agatha but I couldn’t take it out on Annie. I decided maybe we could try to patch things up in a couple of weeks. But not today.

“Auntie Flo, are you headed home?” I asked.

“Yes, aren’t you going home too?”

“No, there’s something I have to do first.” I said as I walked back around the corner and toward the group of people from earlier. They were now a large crowd, marching down the street and holding signs saying unflattering things about our soon-to-be president. One of them handed me a sign and I started marching.

Samuel Lee was born and raised in San Francisco. He has been a student of CCSF over the years and has recently discovered the world of creative writing after taking several classes in it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s