Kyle and I went to grade school together. I knew he was from Detroit. Most of what I knew about Detroit in grade school was that the kids who lived there couldn’t ride their bikes at night like the rest of us who lived behind the church.
Mom, please don’t make us move to Detroit. I like to ride my bike after school, I’d plead. Don’t worry, sweetie. We’re never moving to Detroit, my mother replied confidently.
We sit next to each other in fifth grade reading comprehension. One day, I receive a test with a giant red C- on the top of it and start to cry. I put my hands on the sides of my face to discreetly wipe away tears.
Kyle puts his face close to mine. Are you crying? he asks softly.
I shake my head as my mouth pulls itself into an uncontrollable frown.
He leans over and pats me on the shoulder. It’s okay to cry.
I just keep shaking my head. I wish I could stop frowning. The worst part about crying when you’re really sad is the physical impossibility of smiling.
Sometimes I cry too. I cry when I hear gunshots outside my house. It’s okay to cry.
I don’t cry about my grades anymore.