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About the author:
B. Hollidae is a future law student who when not obsessed with law school apps and personal statements and doing the bare minimum to keep her job uses the spare time she has to write novels. All the Little Things is her debut and possibly only novel before she tackles law school in the fall of 2018, and was inspired by all those who are afraid to use their voice for fear that someone would hear it and not believe it.
Here is a short sample from the book:
I hear giggling behind me and see two girls standing next to each other. One a dark chocolate skinned black girl with her dark hair in two cornrows on either side of her head and the other a tawny skinned Latina with her dark hair pulled into a ponytail. The black girl catches my eye when I glance at them. She smiles at me causing me to turn around. She laughs and mutters something to her friend who makes a loud snort of laughter and when everyone turns to look at her, she covers her mouth and looks at the black girl.
“Is there something you want to share with the class Akilah?”
Some of the class snickers at Akilah’s expense and her sharp brown eyes glare at everyone before she looks at the teacher and says with sigh, “First? It’s Uh-key-luh. It’s not that damn hard to say. Second, she’s the one who laughed. Why am I the one you called out? That said, yes. Yes I absolutely do have something I’d like to share with the class and because I want to share it I’m going to ignore the blatant colorism at the fact that Blanche is the one who laughed and who everyone heard, yet I’m the one in trouble.”
Akilah then looks at me and breaks out into a wide grin. My stomach drops to my stomach with sudden nerves while my blood pressure undoubtedly soars if the sudden tightness in my chest is anything to go by, as I naturally get ready to act on instincts that I used to need when dealing with my stepdad and while living on the streets.
Akilah turns back to the teacher and says, “How the fuck am I supposed to concentrate around that?”
As she says this, she points a finger and nods her head in my direction. Before I can even try to predict where she’s going with this she says, “I mean look at him. The shirt is so damn tight it’s practically bursting at the seams every time he moves. Every time he so much as twitches I notice a muscle flex. Put that together with those dark grey eyes and that long wavy dark hair and that flawless golden-brown terracotta-ish complexion and my ovaries are practically screaming at me to go make babies with him because he can provide for and protect offspring no matter how true or untrue that could be which makes it extremely difficult to pay attention to your instruction. All that said, can you please get the dude a bigger shirt because there is no way you expect all of us to concentrate otherwise.”
“Miss Ghaliya,” the teacher says in a warning tone.
“Look, just last week you made one of the girls put on bigger shorts because her ass was supposedly distracting the boys. All I’m saying is that there needs to be some gender equality around here and if the boys can’t be blamed for being distracted, neither can I be blamed for not paying attention because of those guns. And if that’s the case, he needs to put on a bigger shirt. Unless we want this to be made into a viral social media post. I really don’t think the school needs the bad rep.”
“Akilah,” the teacher says in a tone that undoubtedly means she’s crossed a line.
“It’s fine,” I suddenly cut in. “I have a shirt in my bag.”
“See how easy that was,” Akilah says and she grins in my direction again.
I take the time to notice that she’s missing an upper canine. To be honest it’s barely noticeable but I’m trying to focus on anything other than the part of me that wants to throttle her for humiliating me like this, like I’m just some fucking sexual object, while another part of me just wants to run off and die. She grins wider all of a sudden and I get the feeling that she’s well aware that she’s pissed me off.
“Would you also like to apologize to Mr. Ortiz?”
“For what?” Akilah asked. “All the girls can name at least five occasions where one of the guys have done the same thing to us.”
“It’s fine,” I add just wanting this whole situation to be over. “I’ll go put on another shirt.”
“I’ll go with him to make sure he doesn’t get lost,” Devonte offers and before our teacher can object he catches up with me to go to the locker rooms.
When we’re far enough away I snap, “Who the fuck is she?”
“That’s Akilah Ghaliya. She’s usually pretty quiet, but when she talks expect it to be loud and opinionated and pointing out the elephant in the room. She can talk herself in and out of anything,” Devonte said rolling his eyes. “It’s why a lot of the guys are afraid to date her. Not that she’s ever been interested in anyone. You ought to be flattered really.”
“Well I’m not. She didn’t have to be so…” I trail off, unable to find the word for what she was.
“Don’t be offended. She’s always had an aura of owning the place and being able to do and say whatever she wants if she decides she needs to.”
I don’t say anything in response as we make it to the locker room. I grab my t-shirt out one of the lockers and put it on. And even though I have half the mind not to go back because I’m so embarrassed, I go back anyway because I won’t let a girl that’s hardly over five feet have that kind of power over me.
Neither Akilah nor Blanche spare another glance at me for the rest of gym though that doesn’t stop everyone else from paying attention to me now. It was bad enough I was the new guy. Now I’m the new guy who was humiliated by that outspoken girl.
Once gym is over, I have one last class for the day and that class can’t end fast enough. As soon as the bell rings I get out my chair, strategically chosen to be in the back corner of the class so I can be among the first to leave, and all but run out of class wishing myself invisible so that no one sees me. It’s in this manner that I manage to walk right past Devonte without him noticing. When I get outside, I think I’ve succeeded until I hear my name.
I try to ignore it and continue to walk off the premises, but the person is insistent and I hear them running behind me until they’re blocking me from the front.
“What do you want?” I snap.
“What do you want?” I repeat.
“Just wanted to say I wasn’t trying to embarrass you back in gym. To be honest, you’re probably the only guy I know that wouldn’t have been flattered by it.”
“Well thank you. But I wasn’t.”
“And I’m saying sorry for it. Even if I’m baffled by it. By the time that story gets around school and everyone gets a look at the guy that Akilah Ghaliya called out in gym, girls will practically be throwing their panties at you. Not that you needed help.”
“Not something I’m looking forward to.”
Akilah raises her eyebrows at me and then asks, “Are you gay? If so I can–.”
“No. I’m not gay.”
“I’m just not that kind of guy, alright?” I say and walk past her.
She simply falls in step next to me and says, “Not that kind of guy huh?”
“You know this can be counted as harassment, right? All things you’ve done today considered.”
“That’s probably true,” Akilah admits. “But even if you told or tried to do something about it, they would take one look at you and one look at me and then laugh. Not that I think they should. Just an unfortunate reality of the toxic masculinity and gender stereotypes that permeate our society.”
“You know, by now most girls would figure out I’m blowing them off.”
“I know you’re blowing me off. I don’t care,” Akilah points out and then says, “We should hang out sometime. Doing anything this weekend?”
“Are you seriously asking me out on a date?”
“Not a date. I just want to hang out. There’s a three month probationary period before I decide if I want to date a guy,” she says. “Most guys don’t get past it. But I wasn’t lying when I said I thought you were hot. Wouldn’t hurt to see if you’re actually a jerk on the inside or not.”
“Fuck off. There. I’m an ass. Now you know.”
“You’re angry at me right now. Waiting until the weekend will give you the chance to cool off. If you’re as shy as you were acting in gym, I bet you’re actually pretty sweet.”
I stop walking and so does she, not faltering even as I just look at her for a while. She’s pretty quick-witted and has shot down everything I’ve done to try to hurt her feelings and make her back off so far. I groan finally. She’s not going to back off until I give in and admittedly, I’m a little intrigued.
Finally I say, “You’re pretty forward for a girl.”
“You’ll find I defy most gender stereotypes and general social norms and oddities. Actually, most girls do. But I’m not going to get into that,” Akilah assures as she finally turns to go in the opposite direction as me. “I’ll meet you here. Saturday. Around noon. Give you a tour of the ATL.”
“How do you know I need a tour?” I ask. I don’t particularly have a discernible accent.
“You’re from Miami,” she says.
“And you know that how?”
She grins at me and says, “I’m good at finding out things about people.”
Then she turns away from me and says, “See ya’ later, Raf.”
I cringe. “Don’t call me that.”
Because my stepdad called me that. But Akilah’s a stranger. A stranger who seems to know a lot more than I’ve said to her and asked me out, but a stranger still.
“Just don’t,” I mutter.
“You’re going to have to give me a better reason than that, Raf,” she yells back.
I watch her retreat for a while and then turn back to go home. Perla is going to get a kick out of this.