|In this new boarding school world where
there was an accumulation of tribes from all over the United States,
Mara felt security. Time was scheduled in a close military regimen but
as is the way of the imperfect humanity these schedules she and her
peers could tamper as to finding escape from the rigidity of it. All her
life she had been exposed to the realities of racial problems. In her
sixteen years with her brothers, cousins, and Uncles she had been a
quiet by stander to witness the slings and arrows of that insidious
little monster who could attack in a moment leaving the unprotected
vulnerable. These weaknesses were not felt by those of her own. They
were fortified with the strong teachings of true Christianity. Welded
into their thinking was the responsibility to be thankful to their
Creator for gifting them with the beauty of their dark skin. On the
other hand they were equally as indebted to healing the weaknesses of
their foe with teaching that person of the equal beauty of their own
fair skin and tactfully let them know there should be no place in their
heart for envy.
Now at this time Mara was watching a
young man walk across the campus, alone, toward the dining room where
she would soon be also. His walk was a decided stride. His shoulders
were square and strong as if he had been subjected to some sport or
activity to develop his physic. He kept a straight stare directly in
front of him, not looking right or left. There was no friendly play with
friends on their way to an evening meal. His swarthy dark skin was
outstanding she thought. Even at a distance she could see the extra
neatness with the way he was dressed. His hair was combed and as well
groomed above the normal. As he came closer she had an opportunity to
catch his expression. There was a mean angry look to his face. As his
eyes seemed to pierce every object where they fell she could see almost
a rage about him. This was nothing new to her either. This same rage she
had observed in some of the young men who had not the same force of her
own father's teaching to armor them against the pricks of racial hatred.
They stood in separate lines slowly
moving toward the "chow line" as any military group will do.
By some strange twist of fate she and
this man-boy came to the serving lines at the same time. As if feeling
her thoughts he turned to look directly at her. There was such an
intense depth of emotion in his long hard stare if it had fallen on
anyone else but her they would have been frightened by it. She felt not
fright but empathy.
"I would like another bottle of
milk?" he demanded from the server.
"You know you can have only
"Jerry gives me two." He
informed the person
"I'm not Jerry."
Mara picked up her milk, handed it to
him, "I'm allergic to milk, take mine."
This angry young man glanced at her, not
losing the hardness of his expression but there was a small difference
in his demeanor.
"Tell me about the boy called Kiel
Kuster?" Mara asked her room mate.
"Trouble." Came the girl's single
"Like how?" Mara was curious.
"Oh he is mad at the world."
"He keeps breaking the rules, getting in trouble, running off on
week-ends and so on and so forth." "The last deal landed him
"He has never been taught the
outstanding beauty of dark skin." Mara told her room mate.
"And, I suppose you are going to be
the one to teach him." Her room mate sighed.
"Well. Maybe." Mara grinned.
Kiel sent word he would pick her up for
the Saturday night social and so began their time together. When he
dropped his angry hardness he could be fun loving and a great dance
partner. They entered contests, and danced every possible dance. They
sometimes set out at the events and talked for many hours. He told her
of his life close to an old volcano where he spent endless hours in the
summer swimming in the crater of the place. It turned out he was an avid
reader, reading everything he could possess. Kiel laughed that it was
hard to find anything in the library he had not read and that one of the
teachers was his mentor for this and brought him books by the stacks.
Kiel dressed in such an immaculate way
there was no room in Mara's heart not to be proud to be seen with him.
Gone were his brazen forays into the little town on week-ends to some
bar or another. His time he spent with her, even going to church on
Sundays as her escort. The boys as did the girls exchanged and
interchanged their clothing. However, a suit on someone else could be
just that. On Kiel it took on a total new appearance after he was sure
it was clean and pressed to its total best appearance.
The only demon upon them was the contrast
in the color of their skin. While they sat in church one Sunday he
remarked sardonically, "We look like salt and pepper."
Mara knew in her heart their time of
happy abandonment from the old curse was coming to an end and she made
no reply to him.
Sure enough a new girl came to school.
She was as dark and beautiful in her femininity as he was in his
masculinity. For the remaining time of that year he would escort Mara to
the socials and then make a clandestine meetings with this new girl.
Mara knew about it and for a time accepted the situation until one
morning her room mate came with eyes as big as saucers to tell her about
her name on the bulletin board as to having been caught after hours with
"Not me." "They have the
wrong person linked with him." "I will have to get it straight
with Miz Mac.
When she approached the house mother, the
wise older woman simply said, "Mara, hitch your wagon to a
At the beginning of the next year when Kiel
walked up to her with a newer look of assured security as to his place
of acceptance in the world, Mara knew it was time to make an even break
"You know, Kiel, I'm very interested
in keeping a good reputation, and all that." "I just am not
going into this new year with the same old thing, we went through last
"Salt and pepper?" Came the
"Yes, Kiel, it is." "I am
the pepper and you are the salt." "You are clean and white in
the tender way you have." "You season and enhance."
" I, on the other hand am pepper." "I have already been
through the dust of the grinder." "I have been taught the
knowledge of my God creating me in his own special way." "One
day you will learn this also." "With that she turned and
walked away never to look back."
Later when he died of a heart attack, a
friend called to tell her. "I know," she replied. "I
dreamed of him last night." "He wore a light chocolate cream
colored suit." "He walked directly toward me through a long
veranda edged in arcades." "He took me through giant doors and
we waltzed in a large ballroom with only the band playing and no others
were there." "I can still see the brilliant marble