By: Katy Evans

@MalcolmSaint to throw the first ball at Cubs game

My personal inbox:


I’ve already got a two-inch-thick file on Malcolm Saint, but no call from his PR contact.

Today’s plans with my mother are a no-go too.

I was supposed to meet her to show our support for our community’s End the Violence campaign, but she calls to say that she’s not going to make it. Her boss asked her to cover for someone. “I’m sorry, darling. Why don’t you ask one of the girls to go with you?”

“Don’t worry, Mother, I will. Take your insulin, okay?”

I know she takes it, but I can’t help mentioning it every time we call. I obsess about her like that.

In fact, I worry about my mom so much, Gina and Wynn worry I’m going to make myself sick over it. I want to get a big cushion of savings so I know I can take care of her insurance and be sure she has a good home and good healthy food, and good care, too. I want to give my mom everything she’s given me so she can retire and finally do what she loves. Everybody deserves to do what they love. Her love for me and her desire to provide for me as much as she could have held her back. I want to do well enough that now she gets to follow her dreams.

This exposé could lead to so many more opportunities, that one door opening to a plethora of new ones.

I’m clicking Malcolm Saint links like crazy when Gina finally pads out of her bedroom in her comfiest outfit.

“I told you it needs to be something you won’t mind getting paint on,” I remind her. “Aren’t those your favorite jeans?”

“Oh fuck, I heard that! Why did I forget when I went into my closet and saw these?” She thumps back into her room.

An hour before noon, at a corner of the park near the basketball courts, Gina and I—along with what looks to be several dozen people—finally gather in anticipation of slapping our paint-covered hands onto a mural-size canvas.

“We’ve all lost someone to this fight. Our loved ones, our grocer, a friend . . .” one of the organizers is saying.

I was two months old when I lost my dad.

All I know is from my mother’s account: that he was an ambitious man, hardworking, and full of big dreams. He swore to her that I would never have to work . . . he was obsessed with giving us the ideal life. We didn’t ask for it, but it didn’t matter to my dad.

All it took was one gun, and none of it happened.

I didn’t get to have a memory of his eyes, gray, supposedly like mine. Never heard his voice. Never knew if, in the mornings, he’d be grumpy like Gina’s dad or sweet like Wynn’s. I remember the neighbors bringing pie for years as I grew up. Their daughters coming over to play with me. I remember playing with other people’s kids too, my mother taking me over to play with other children who had lost someone to violence.

Now, twenty-three years after my father died, every time something bad happens I wish we could make it stop, and I never want to forget how it feels, this wanting to make it stop.

We’ve been criticized over our methods of pleading for a safer city—some say we’re too passive, others that it’s pointless—but I think that even the quietest of voices deserve to be heard.

Per one of the organizers’ instructions, I pour a half an inch of red paint into my oversize plastic tray, and then I plant my hand on the surface. Thick red paint spreads to my fingertips.

“We’re putting our hands on this huge mural as a symbol to stop the violence in the streets, in our communities, in our city, in our neighborhoods,” the organizer continues.

My phone buzzes in my left butt-cheek pocket.

“All right, now,” the woman hollers.

On the count of three—one, two, three!—I press my hand to the wall, while Gina does the same, her hand red like mine and a little bit bigger.

Once we’ve all left our prints, we hurry to the water fountains to clean up. Gina leans over my shoulder and I yelp and try to ease away.

“Dude, you’re getting paint all over me!” I cry, laughing as I dry my hands and step aside to let her wash. While she scrubs off her paint, I pluck my phone out.

And my stomach takes a dive because I’ve got a reply.

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