The Atheneum Launch and Reading

Tomorrow I am doing a two minute reading for the Atheneum. It is the kick off party to the program. I will read along with the other 11 students and the faculty. I drove myself crazy trying to figure out what to read. Not because I wanted the perfect thing or I was worried I would sound bad with whatever I picked, but because sometimes I can not seem to get my butt in gear. What’s with that? Anyway, this is what I will read tomorrow night. It is a minute and a half and it is from a short story I started to write about three or four years ago. I do like the character and I plan to actually finish the story one day, but for now all I need are two minutes.

Lewis hated going to Clare’s parents. He knew they were judging him. They had been judging him since the first time he ever came to take her out on a date. He could feel their eyes on his skin examining his heritage, sentencing the lines in his face that told the stories of his absent father, and poor mother. He could feel them burning through his pocket book, and reading his bank account. Tsking to themselves, to their wealthy friends. He knew no matter how much money he made or how successful he became he would never be good enough for their little girl.

They were old money. During the Harlem renaissance their family did not worry themselves over the need for white patronage, they bought their own art; they hosted affluent parties with the select blacks and whites of the elite New York scene; Zora Neal Hurston, Claude Mckay, and other great black artists walked over their grandparents’ hardwood floors. He had heard that even the legendary Josephine Baker had been to a cocktail party in the house before her return to Paris. They were part of a secret few, and they did not want their daughter slumming around with this dark skinned fatherless boy from the projects. This thought angered him. It always angered him; he had never imagined that this would be an obstacle in his life.  He felt tired like he needed a long vacation. He wanted to turn the car around and never return. He wanted to push Clare out of the passenger seat and onto the driveway leaving her and her parents’ money behind. He could leave the kids in the downy beds with the maids who came in with the morning breakfast. He would never be able to give them those things.

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