Education Society Stories & Opinions Student Engagement

Together, We Find A Way

I’m running. Going as fast as my legs will take me. Running through a jungle. When I look up the sky is a canopy of different shades of greens and browns. When I look down the ground is dirt and fallen leaves, sticks and large roots. I’m barefoot. My brown toes squish the soft Earth beneath them as I keep going.

This is a novel series developed by the Evergreen Student Keah Thomas. The novel will be published by chapter as Keah proceeds with her work. Presented below is the first chapter.

————– Preface ————–

I am pansexual but have never seen my sexuality as a defining label of who i am. I also love to read and write, something I would use as a label for myself. I was in Barns and Noble (a book store) looking for my next great book love. I am currently dating a woman for the first time in my life and realized I had never read a novel with a main character who is in a lesbian relationship. So I googled some titles and bought an ebook of one that sounded interesting. I read it for a week and was extremely disappointed. The book had the makings of an amazing and thrilling story, but the writing was very immature. But this books was held as one of the best lesbian novel written recently. This got me thinking, why are LGBTQ+ romance novels not held to the same standard as heterosexual romance novels? I found that the pool became even smaller for a Black woman to be the author of a LGBTQ+ novel. This made me so determined to break both barriers and write a book of my own. I know I am not some great author but being in a writing class gave me the space to focus on writing this piece.


I hope to break down many misconceptions of female and male behaviour, what lesbian relationships should look like, what beauty looks like among other things. I truly hope to finish and become published. I even have book two sitting in the back of my head ready lol.

————– Chapter One ————–

The packed crunch of snow under my thick winter boot was the only thing I could focus on on my way to the chemistry lab. Tiny cotton-like puffs of snow keep landing on my glasses. They melt almost as soon as they land and leave equally tiny puddles on the lens. Most people can’t stand winter in Chicago– and rightfully so as it can get to be below freezing! But I love it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the summer months too, but I just feel so at peace in the snow. Snow makes everything look new yet timeless at the same time; beautiful and deadly, mysterious and magical. I can sit outside for hours just watching my breath become real and tangible in a white cloud, like unless I see this tiny cloud I can’t be sure I’m really alive.

As I reach for the door of the chem building, I let out one last long breath. I’m watching deeply as I force the last of the air hiding in the corners of my lungs out, as if I needed one last reminder that I’m alive before I enter today’s lecture. I hike my backpack back onto my shoulder and shift around the two thick textbooks I had pressed to my chest so I that can thrust my whole body back to swing the door open with one hand. Then quickly shuffle into the warm building before the highly impatient door slams behind me. Only a couple of the people studying in the lobby looked up at me when the door slammed, their eyes cursing me for breaking their concentration. I gave them a half nod of apology and hurried my way on to class. No one else had arrived yet so I had my choice of anywhere. I stood in the doorway only a second longer than usual trying to decide where to sit before I shuffle on to the seat I usually occupy in the back. Why did I even act like this wasn’t where I was going to end up, whether the classroom was a ghost town or it was giving away free food? Given the fact that it’s the week before exams and college students tend to forget to eat or have run out of money for food until the next semester, the room would have been bursting at the seams. And even if there was a small space for me in the front with my name on it, you would still find me in the back suffocating under all the bodies. I stack my books around me on the table; take out my notebook, a pen and my headphones. Glancing at the time before I start the music I have uploaded on my phone; I throw on my hood and put my head in my arms on the table. 1:47pm. About ten minutes before class starts.

I didn’t always sit in the back and act all anti-social. I’m actually really confident and cheery, I swear. You just can’t show weakness at this school. I use to sit in the front row, I didn’t need to wear my glasses as much at the distance and I just like to be closer to the board, until one day a Green Eyed Brunette complained every day that she couldn’t see over the “bushy matted mess I call hair.” No matter how I styled my hair she would complain. So Professor Osfer sent me an email asking me to not sit in the front row, and to do something with my hair “to foster a better learning environment for everyone.” So I started to sit in the middle of the room. The Green Eyed Brunette stopped complaining and moved into my old seat, which she only wanted because one of her friends used to sit next to me and they cheated off each other, and I started to wear a wig similar to my natural hair when it’s straightened. Things were fine for a little while before a tall Sandy Haired Beefcake thought it would be funny to snatch off my wig as I passed his desk on my way to give a presentation. I was in such a shock that I dropped my diorama of the heart and its many intricate pieces. Tears were stinging my eyes from the pain of torn out hairs, embarrassment and anger so I ran out of class. Professor Osfer sent me another email apologizing for Beefcake’s “Childishness” but to remember “He is still a young man, barely out of his boy years, and that he was probably just trying to become friends with you,” and “Besides how could he have known you were wearing a wig.” Professor Osfer told me he would have Beefcake give me a written apology. The next class I found an old piece of lined paper lazily folded on a desk in the back of the classroom with my name incorrectly spelled on it. Inside it read:

Dear Armi,

Sorry your wig came off, didnt exactly mean for that.
P.s. I though only bald and old people wore wigs. Lol which are you lol?

Love

Beefcake. Well not really Beefcake, but I don’t remember his name. Anyway, now I sit where the note told me to, wear a sew-in , take the long way to the front and stick to myself. I start to twirl my pen between my fingers while students start filing in. I see their lips moving with each other but I don’t hear anything over my music. Even if I wasn’t listening to music, none of their words are meant for me so what would be the point. At the tolls of the school’s bells to indicate 2 o’clock has rolled around, no one takes their seats or even really acknowledges that there was even a bell. I take off my headphones and put them away. By 2:10 Professor Osfer strolls in with a messy stack of papers, folders and books.

“Okay everyone, how were your weekends? Restful I hope?” He says as he gathers himself behind the podium and starts to write on the chalkboard today’s lesson. People started to find seats and get out books. I couldn’t hear Professor Osfer over the rustling of papers, the buzzing of zippers opening and closing, and the asking of everything from papers and pens to today’s homework and a snack, but I’m sure the pleasantries he was giving us face to the board were nothing short of pleasant. Professor Osfer is a 6’3 spidery bearded man somewhere in his 60s. He’s got that air of 10-year-old mixed with country club and a shot of legacy admission to him that I despise. He has thin glasses that balance on the tip of his nose most times. He starts on his lecture as I do the same on my notes.

I get out of class without any incidents at 6pm. I grab a supreme steak burrito from the taco truck near the school and head to the library until midnight. Packing layers back on, I gingerly get up from the desk I had been poring over for the last five hours. You can really tell how much they want students to study; I start to think as I crack my back. These wooden chairs were never meant to be used for more than 45 mins at a time by one butt. It had snowed again and the world was reborn again. All its bad hidden under a layer of snow. There weren’t any cars on the road right now, or what looks like for a while. There were no tracks to disrupt the new sheet. The world never gets truly dark either when it snows. The street lamps with their orange-ish glow were simply ornaments at this moment. The snow under my feet echoed through the empty streets and my cloud of life guided the way home. Once at my little apartment I let out another long emptying breath while I find my keys. On the other side of the door I hear whining and nails hitting wood floors. Opening the door, I am greeted by my best friend in the whole world, my black pit Toothless. Her name comes from my favorite book as a child “How to Train a Dragon.” She licks my face no doubt trying to get any remaining hints of my burrito.

“Aww Toothless, how was your day, huh?” I say putting on the voice that always excites her. I dump some of the snow I had on me on her and she in return shakes the melted version back onto me. I giggle at the return fire and she run down the short hallway to the kitchen giving off a few of her muted half bark half whining noise. “Here I come; yes I know I’m sorry I’m home so late. But you know what,” I say reaching for her food and bowl, “I’m grown ya know. I can come home whenever I want, I don’t have a curfew.” She sits on the other side of the bowl spit bubbling around her lips as she watches me very intently while I fill her bowl. “Yes, your right, you got me. You know my love for you will keep me in check and coming home.” I look into her eyes. They’re not the eyes of someone who just won an argument. Just the eyes of a hungry dog. “Okay,” I giggle, “Eat.” At her command, she attacks her kibble like she had never had food before; which is a complete lie as I fed her this morning.

Besides Toothless, I live alone thanks to the school. The University gave me a huge check to live off of as part of my admissions package. I guess you could say they really wanted me; I even have a little backyard. It’s nice though, I like my space and if anyone asks I always say I live with my best friend, which is not a lie. That usually makes people not want to come over, not that I get to use the line often or that people want to come over often. I let Toothless out in the back when she’s done eating then hop in the shower. After I retrieve my dog from the snowy night we head to bed. I lie under my many layers of thick burgundy blankets and put my space heater on low. “Another day down. Yet another still to come. But for now, it’s time to rest at home.” Toothless lets out a puff of air that sounds like a sigh from a long day’s work, which she didn’t put in, from the end of the bed. I don’t remember where I heard that little phrase or how long I’ve been saying it, but I say it every night when I’m fully settled and ready for sleep to come.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

I’m running. Going as fast as my legs will take me. Running through a jungle. When I look up the sky is a canopy of different shades of greens and browns. When I look down the ground is dirt and fallen leaves, sticks and large roots. I’m barefoot. My brown toes squish the soft Earth beneath them as I keep going. I try to look behind me to see why I’m running, but I can’t. My head won’t turn that way. And then it starts to snow. A small fluff finds its way to the tip of my nose. The jungle around me starts to die. Everything is wilting and turning on itself. All the while I can’t stop running. Even though the snow is coming down hard and fast, I’m not cold at all. In fact there is no seam coming off my body, even though I can feel the sweat sliding down the side of my face. The jungle keeps dying but I’m not scared because the snow is giving it this magical sheet, the greens and browns are fading to white. Instead of the soft Earth, I feel the snow crunch under my toes. And then I notice, there is no little cloud of life. Here I am running through the snow at top speed, huffing and puffing my way through this jungle, and there is no sign that I am alive. With that thought I fall through an unseen black hole. Fall straight down into nothing.

About the Author

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Keah Thomas

My name is Keah Thomas. I am a 20 year old sophomore at The Evergreen State College. When I’m not in class or doing homework, I love to cook, write, read and experience life! I’ve been writing for about 10 years now, mostly poetry and unfinished novels. Social justice is a huge part of my life and I think that that translate into my writing. If you like my story, let me know! If you have some suggestions or questions, let me know! Contact me at: thokea13@evergreen.edu

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