You’re twelve and you’re Black, and your mother gives you a toy gun.
Its barrel is smooth, the grip is ribbed. Inside its chamber sit small, plastic pellets.
You’re twelve and you’re Black, and you and your big sister take the gun to the park. Snow loiters on the grass. The outside air feels sharp against your cheeks. You press your hands in your jacket pockets and listen to the ground crunch under your feet.
You’re twelve and you’re Black, and while your sister plays with her friends in the playground, you stay behind the little wooden gazebo and play with your new toy.
You’re twelve and you’re Black, and you’re playing with your toy, but
because you’re Black, nobody cares that you’re twelve.
A police squad gets notified of you being (Black) in the park carrying a (toy) gun.
You’re twelve and you’re Black and you’re playing with your toy. A police car slices through the grass and a white police officer comes out. His face is pale, except for the red glaze scattered around his face. The area around his eyes, his red nose, red cheeks. A crushed strawberry, flicked onto a mound of flour.
He aims his gun at you.
He puts a bullet in your body.
The bullet pulls your skin apart on the left side of your belly button. It cuts into your abdomen. Bites through your intestines. Burrows itself in the bone near the base of your spine. Bile and blood mix, and spill out of your stomach.
A cold, stiff breath leaks from your lungs.
The police officer looks at your body, a crumpled corpse on powdered sugar snow. He searches for the eyes of his colleague-in-arms. He gave me no choice, he tells him. His partner nods once. They rub their fingertips together and decide to give you no medical attention.
You’re twelve and you’re Black, and you’re dead.
Killed by an officer for playing with your toy. Killed by an officer who looked at you through thin lashes, gripped the handle on his police gun, and shot you. An officer who will not get punished for murdering you. An officer who will clear his throat and say you looked grown, looked like you were about to attack, causing his chest to knock, out of fear for his life.
You left him no choice, he will believe.
You’re twelve and you’re Black, and you’re playing with a toy. But all that matters is
you are Black.