Nothing To Make It Right
by Sienna

536 words (3.5-4 minutes)

      I knew when I woke up that today was going to be a bad day. My father, the drunk, was on the floor of our home. If that’s what you want to call this place. That one-roomed, dilapidated shit-hole of a home. After cleaning up the mess he left from the night before, I dragged him over to the bed and managed to put him in it. I left and went out to the square to conduct my business: pickin’ pockets. All around me I could hear people talking about the draft. Nobody here cared about Lincoln’s war. We just cared about ourselves. I watched my prey carefully. The whores, the Chinamen, the bullies, the good ole’chaps who never worked a day in their lives, the worried mothers, and the small group of various immigrants.

Today there was a group of negros over by the statue of St. Mary. They weren’t around here much. Most of the poor blamed them for the war; figured if they hadn’t ever come here and wanted to be free then none of us would have to die for a cause we didn’t believe in. I decided to pick them first. They looked lost and a little unsure of themselves. Good day, sirs, may I be of help, perhaps? They asked directions to the docks, I gave them, and off they went.

Now that I had some coins in my pocket I was feeling a little self-assured, so I decided to take a walk up town. As I was walking away I heard a child scream. Curiosity got the better of me, and I turned around to see what was the matter. There was a little girl face down in the mud, her pretty pink stocking were covered in city grime. One of the negros bent over to help her up. And then it all happened so fast. I didn’t know what to do.

A man came rushing out of nearby house yelling for the negro to get his filthy hands of his daughter, and then he knocked him over and started hitting him. The negro’s friends tried to help, but just then everybody, I swear, everyone in the whole square came running and started beating them. I could hear the negros screaming that he didn’t mean anything by it, but they wouldn’t stop. They just kept hitting him and his friends over and over. I was frozen. I wanted to shout, Stop! He didn’t do anything! He was trying to help! But all I could do was whisper, Stop, stop. Please! Stop...

And then it was over. The crowd broke up and ran off. I could see blood on some of the people’s clothes and hands. Why? That’s all I could think as I stared at their battered bodies. I couldn’t tear my eyes away. What did they ever do? Why would someone steal their lives away without a reason? And then I realized, I stole from them too. I could feel their coins burning through my pocket, branding me with shame. I snatched them out and threw them on the ground. Then, just like all the other thieves, I ran. I ran as far and fast as I could.

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