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Some Kids I Have Known
Readin', Ritin', Rithmatic, Romance

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 one."

"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 word reply.

"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 in jail."

"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 Kiel.

"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 star."

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 with him.

"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 year."

"Salt and pepper?" Came the remark.

"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 floors."

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