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THE YEARS THAT ANSWERED by Té Smith

At least four days a week, my grandfather runs, as fast as an eighty-seven year old can, out of his house with his face pale with torment and his robe fluttering violently. The neighbors no longer cover their eyes or dial 911 from their disturbed curtains. He cries out, “They gon’ kill us all!” My mother and my sister run to him and hold him. They rub his neck and shoulders. They hum Miles Davis’ Godchild, until his trepidations are calmed.

“Ya’ll, this time he got two blocks away,” buzzes into the group chat. We send hearts and exasperated emojis. We know it is all in his head. He is safe and lives a life of restful enjoyment. We text caring words to soften the weight of the moment. But we understand, because there is hardly one of us who has not been stirred by the news of another hashtag or acquittal to do just what he has done, and every time, it has taken all our power, and the power of the others in the chat, to keep us safely silent.

Té Smith Author

Té V. Smith, 33 lives in New Orleans, and prefers he/him personal pronouns. Té teaches History, Music Performance, and Creative Writing.

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