Flash: These Things Don’t Just Happen

Photo by Muhammad Ruqiyaddin on Unsplash

“Really, really? How the …” Julia sputtered to a stop. “These things don’t just happen.”

Onighgah shook her head and turned away. “Maybe in your world.”

“What do you mean ‘my world’?” Confusion infused the words.

Running a quick hand over her headwrap, the black woman considered how to respond to her white friend. Nearly friend, someone from work who she lunched with when they sat in the cafeteria since they always were on break together and the room only had two tables. It would have been noticeably rude to sit at the other one. Unfortunately today she got a phone call to bail her brother out of jail which Julia had overheard and one thing led to another.

“In your world, walking down the street doesn’t end with someone questioning why you are in the neighborhood.”

Julia rolled her eyes.

“White privilege is a thing. A real thing, girl.” Onighgah continued.

After a quick puff of exasperation, Julia shook her head. “Blah, blah. Slavery. Oppression. Come on. That is ages ago. Get over it. This is America.” Julie swept her hand around the small room where the large store retail employees were required to take their breaks. “If you are failing, it is on you.”

Onighgah’s teeth ground.

“Whatever your brother did, he shouldn’t have been doing it.”

“He.was.walking.to.his.class.” Each word bit the air with frost. “The.one.he.teaches.at.the.high.school.”

“If that is all he was doing, the cops wouldn’t have bothered him.”

“You—“ The black woman cut herself off as her voice raised. “No, not going there.” After packing the balance of her lunch up in the brown paper bag she brought today, she stood. She crushed it between her hands, back and forth, kneading it like a baseball. “Come with me to bail him out.” She finally spat.


“Tonight, after work, come with me to bail him out. We’ll do a little makeup, you got a dark Italian coloring, it won’t take much. Wrap one of my extra scarfs around your head.”

“Are you crazy?” Julia stared up at her co-worker.

“I dare you.”

(words 346; first published 4/19/2020)



P is for prejudice