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310 pages, Paperback
First published October 16, 2018
I didn’t understand how anyone could be so violently angry with me for something I hadn’t done, so much so that they’d feel justified in assaulting me in broad daylight as I walked down the street. I didn’t want to understand it. But there it was.
I worried that if I spoke or screamed my anger would grip both sides of my open mouth and rip me in half. So I said nothing.
I was stuck in another small town, trapped in another universe populated by the kind of people who’d only ever seen faces like mine on their evening news, and I hated it.
“I’m just—I’m sick and tired of trying to explain to the world why racism is bad, okay? Why is that my job?”
My parents had made sure to make an entirely separate, six-course meal for this friend of mine who’d never tried Persian food before, and they’d sat there and stared at him as he ate, and every time he said he liked what he’d eaten they would look up at me and beam, proud as peacocks, finding in Ocean further proof that Persian people had invented only the best things, including the best food.
But I knew Ocean and I were thinking the same thing. I could feel it in the subtle shifts of his body. I heard it in his sudden, slow inhalations. In the tightness in his breath when he leaned in and whispered, “Where the hell did you come from?”
But I had never, ever touched someone and felt like this: like I was holding electricity inside of me.
"You sound so sleepy."
"Yeah," he said quietly. "I don't know. I'm tired, but I feel so happy."
"Yeah," he whispered. "You make me so happy." He took a deep breath. Laughed a little. "You're like a happy drug."
I was smiling. I didn't know what to say.
"Yeah," I said. "I'm here."
"What are you thinking?"
"I'm thinking I wish you were here."
"Yeah," I said. "That'd be great."
“If the decision you’ve made has brought you closer to humanity, then you’ve done the right thing.”