|Forgotten in History
Author: thisnameisnowtaken PM
"History never looks like history when you are living through it." John W. Gardner. A collection of one-shots about unknown lovers throughout history. Rating may vary.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance - Chapters: 5 - Words: 6,556 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 07-27-12 - Published: 06-17-12 - id: 3033159
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
South Africa – 1968 – The Apartheid System
Aaliyah stepped onto the bus, extremely aware of herself. It was already dark outside, which it usually wasn't when she returned home, but tonight had been a late night at work. Her father would be worried; she was a woman, and a colored one, too, walking alone late at night. She had to admit that she, herself, was worried, too.
She took out her wallet and found some coins as she entered the bus. When she looked up, she saw a surprising sight; the driver was white. And not just a white who had become colored because he didn't look white enough – this one was certainly white. So what was he doing as a driver?
Aaliyah handed him the money, and was once again taken aback when he smiled at her. She nervously returned it and quickly turned down the path between the seats. There was one good thing about travelling by bus this late, she noted – there weren't as many white passengers.
She chose a seat and sat down, relief washing over her as she finally got to rest her tired legs. She supported her head with her left hand, putting her elbow on the window frame as the bus drove out of its parking spot.
Aaliyah could feel the tiredness washing over her, and as much as she struggled against the sleep, it finally took over. Her eyes closed and her brain blanked.
"Excuse me?" Someone shook her shoulder, bringing her to consciousness. "Lady?"
Aaliyah drowsily opened her eyes to see the young white man, who had been driving the bus. She noticed his looks for the first time; handsome face with a nice jaw, light brown hair and deep, deep brown eyes.
Then suddenly she realized what was happening; she had fallen asleep. On the bus. A white man was trying to wake her up.
She rose abruptly, as if she had had a shock of electricity. "I am so sorry, sir," she said, avoiding his eyes.
"It's okay," he said, shrugging. Smiling. He had a nice smile, she noticed. A warm smile, not like the other white smiles. Whites never smiled, not really. They did smile, but never with their eyes or heart.
"Where am I?" she asked after looking out of one of the windows, seeing that she didn't recognize the place.
"End station," he answered, "I'm so sorry I didn't wake you before, I didn't know that you'd fallen asleep."
Was he really apologizing to her? He was white, after all. They never apologized; they just took what they could get.
"Oh no!" she said, "Is there any other busses that can take me to the colored part of the city?"
"Sorry, ma'am, this was the last one."
"Then I must walk home."
The bus driver heard the despair in her voice and somehow felt compassionate with her. "If you want to, I can drive you," he offered.
Aaliyah smiled at him. "I couldn't accept that," she said. Of course, she couldn't. What he was offering was great, so great that there had to be some motive behind it. She definitely didn't trust him to actually want to help her – she was colored, after all. She was worth nothing, nothing at all.
"Of course you could. I have to drive through that neighborhood, anyways," he said, "and I wouldn't feel safe letting a young lady like you walk through town alone and unguarded at this hour."
"I'll be fine, thank you," she declined.
"Then at least let me escort you," he offered.
Aaliyah let out a breathy laugh of disbelief. "Why would you, a great white man, care for my safety?"
"Am I not allowed to?"
"Of course you are. You are white; you are allowed to do anything you'd like. But I just don't believe that you would," she said.
"Why not?" he asked, as if he was honestly confused.
"Because," she answered, her voice low, "I am colored and you are white. You have a future, I don't. You are handsome, you are rich and you deserve it. I am ugly, I am poor, and I, just as you, deserve my fate."
"Do you really believe that?" he asked.
Aaliyah stared at him in disbelief. "You don't?"
"Yes, you are colored, I am white. Yes, I have a future, you don't. Yes, I am rich and you poor. But none of us deserve it. You deserve a future, just as I. And I did not get my future because I deserved it, but because my father, and his father before him, took away all that your race had," he said, and then added: "but the thing that I believe to be least true is that you are ugly, because to me, you are the most beautiful thing on God's Earth."
The man's passionate voice almost fooled Aaliyah. But only almost.
"Why do you say these things?"
"Because I mean them. Simple as that," he answered. Aaliyah looked into his eyes and saw nothing but the truth, and she knew that this, his honesty, was enough to make her love him. In the society that she'd grown up in, she'd seen and heard so many lies, and for the first time she met a man, who was not afraid to tell the truth, to make up with inbred prejudice and to fall in love with a woman, even though she had a different color than him.
So when he leaned in to kiss her, she didn't back away. She let him close the distance between them, let his lips touch hers in a wonderful moment that felt like an eternity – and it still wasn't enough. By the touch of his lips on hers, his hand on her waist, she felt something that she had never felt before – not love, exactly, but something close.
The driver pulled away. "What's your name, then?" he asked, smiling. She laughed. She had never been this close to a man before, and she didn't even know his name.
"Aaliyah, what's yours?"