She was aware that she’d be dead soon. She’d accepted it. He hadn’t. She was all that he had. They’d been through hell together.

“J, it’s okay.” she whispered to him from the bed.

He looked at her with tears in his eyes. “It ain’t supposed to be like this. It don’t have to be like this.”

“Trust in The Lord. Whatever is his will, I accept.”

J heard her but he didn’t listen. He wasn’t going to let his mother die without a fight.

He talked to his friend, T, about it.

“3 grand? Damn. I mean you could make it quick if you wasn't tryin to be clean.”

“I don’t do that stuff anymore man. I’ll find another way.”

His mother always warned him to “stay away from all that bad stuff”. It was difficult in his neighborhood not to be involved in some kind of illicit activities, but somehow he managed it. He worked at a nearby supermarket, bagging groceries, packing shelves and cleaning up. He worked part time, because he was taking classes at a community college. His mother always told him that the key to making it out of this neighborhood was education.

He hadn’t always lived up to her standards but he tried. He wanted to make her proud. He had been clean for around a year, and he had no desire to change that now. So he looked for proper ways to make more money.

“My mom’s sick and I really need some more money. You think you could maybe bump my pay up a bit? Just for this month.”

His boss just laughed. “Be happy you even have a job, boy.”

He tried looking for a job with higher pay, but nobody wanted to hire him. As soon as they saw where he lived, his application went into the trash. He started working more hours and skipped school so he could work more. He was soon working full time and even overtime.

He made slow progress but the money was coming, and his mom was surviving. He almost had enough to get her some real help.

As he finished cleaning up one day, his boss called him in. There wasn’t anyone there so they were closing up a little early.

“What’s up boss?”

Everything that his boss said after that was a blur. There was something about business not being as good as it used to be. Something else about the economy. None of it really mattered. The only thing he remembered was the part where he didn’t have to show up to work tomorrow, or any other day.

As he walked home with red, teary eyes, he knew there was only one thing he could do.


He knew that she’d disapprove, but her life was more important than her approval. He went to T and asked him if he could hook him up with a job. One job would give him enough money. He had one rule though. “I ain’t killin anybody.” He didn’t want to do anything illegal but he especially didn’t want to kill anyone. He wasn’t as religious as his mother but he’d taken this one rule to heart at an early age.

He was on his first and last job. It was a simple delivery mission. He was in the right spot but something was wrong. Someone was supposed to be meeting him here. He pulled out his cell phone to call T about it.

“Freeze, police! Don’t move!”

He took a second to think about his next move. He had drugs on him, but if he ran it probably wouldn’t end well. There was no way out now, and this wasn’t worth risking his life. He thought about his mom, and how she would disapprove of all of this. Maybe after they arrested him, they might help her out.

They wouldn’t just leave her there all alone.

He turned around just a little bit too quickly, raising his hands. And in the split second it took him to realize his mistake, he was already on the ground. His cell phone began sinking into a sea of red.


An officer calls for an ambulance.

A nearby pedestrian records the video and wonders how much views he’ll get.

A news reporter thinks of a catchy title, black teen killed by cops for holding cell phone. Nah that’s too long. Maybe cops mistake cell phone for gun.

A twitter user goes on a personal vendetta to ensure the guilty cops resign.

Someone complains that white police shootings aren’t reported half as much as black police shootings.

The people who believe in ‘truth and objectivity’ point out that he was, in fact, a criminal.

Neighborhoods riot over the ‘unjust death’ of a ‘good boy’.

The world loses another criminal. A school loses a promising student. A mother loses her child. People with agendas gain another weapon. They don’t care about the boy’s story. All they need are the words ‘black teen shot by police’. His life story is reduced to 5 words.

I lose 5 seconds reading the same headlines as last week.