Martin Is Her King
Martin Rowan was busily typing away on the computer keyboard when Lillian "Lily" Jackson stepped into the newsroom office (a large classroom, actually) of The Hurricane, Hillsboro High School's student newspaper.
"Hey, how was your Christmas break?" Martin asked, glancing up at his classmate as she took a seat at the desk across from him.
"Okay," she replied. "Yours?"
"Fine, fine," Martin replied. "We've only got a week to put our story to bed," he reminded her.
"We're pretty much done, right?" Lily asked, throwing him a glance.
"I'm just doing another edit now if you want to call it up," Martin let her know.
"Do you think we have enough quotes and student inputs?" Lily worried.
"Yeah," Martin replied, scrolling through the copy. "We don't want to overload it."
"And we captured the importance of his education?" Lily asked. "And his social justice work?"
"I think so," Martin replied.
"I like it that we wrote about how much of a regular kid he was," Lily said as she re-read their story for the hundredth time. "Coming from a close family that hung out a lot together. Taking piano lessons. Playing sports. Being a paperboy."
"If he decided to become a fireman like he dreamed of instead of a pastor we wouldn't be writing about him," Martin observed.
"Don't you think he was destined to become a pastor given that he came from a long line of them?" Lily pondered, playing with the dregs of her hair as she studied the computer screen.
"Preaching about how to see other people," Martin agreed. "Not judging on race, religion, gender or age, but on character."
"Do you think he made a difference?" Lily asked.
"Definitely," Martin replied. "Not too many great men get their own holiday," he said. "President's Day. Columbus Day which is soon to be changed to Ingenious People Day in most states. And Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. That's pretty select company."
"'We are not makers of history, we are made by history,'" Lily read a MLK quote from their story.
"And preserving history is important," Martin replied. "This has been an interesting story to work on."
"Thanks for working on it with me," Lily said with appreciation.
"I was flattered you asked," Martin smiled.
"Do you think our story will even matter?" Lily sighed. "That people will even care? That students will even read it?"
"Yes," Martin replied knowingly. "Change comes slowly. And there are always challenges and steps back but in the end good always defeats evil and right will always better wrong. I think our generation is more concerned now than ever before. We know what's at stake. We know what has come before. The sacrifices made for civil rights and equal rights and the battle against racism. It might feel like we're going backward but we really aren't. We're moving forward."
"I like your optimism," Lily smiled.
They looked at each other over their computer monitors. "I like you," Martin said with a grin.
She looked away, slightly embarrassed.
"We spent a lot of time together working on this thing," Martin said, gesturing toward the computer screen. "Interviewing people together. All that time researching. Going over to Green College to interview that Professor."
"We're pretty much done now though," Lily realized.
"Maybe we can do another story together," Martin said hopefully. "I think we work well together. Our writing meshes. We think alike."
"We're hardly alike, Martin," Lily said, rolling her eyes.
"Sure we are," Martin countered. "We're both positive thinkers. Optimistic. We see the injustices of the world."
"You're a white kid who lives up on the hill," Lily reminded him.
Martin let out a sigh. "Is that how you see me, Lillian?" He sounded hurt.
"I just mean that no matter how sympathetic you are to the cause you'll never truly understand," Lily said gently. "You've never been called the N word."
"That's true," he admitted. "But that doesn't mean I don't care."
"I know," Lily said.
"I really do like you," Martin told her.
"You know I have a boyfriend," Lily said.
"Don't you think interracial dating would help heal some of the current racial divide?" Martin asked. Look at Morris Danielson and Marie Johnson-Rodriquez (*) who are part of this paper too. They're profiles in courage if you ask me."
"I'm not going to be your black queen," Lily said, sitting back in her chair and examining him.
"Couldn't I be your White King?" Martin asked.
Lily laughed out loud.
"I think you're great," Martin told her. "Pretty. Wonderful. Interesting. Intelligent."
"What do you think about my hair?" Lily asked, holding out some of her dregs.
"I think it must take a long time to get it braided like that," he answered, watching her swivel her tightly drawn black hair.
"Yeah, but it last weeks," She smiled.
"If you weren't dating that guy, would you consider me?" Martin wondered.
"Don't you think the racism would get in the way?" Lily asked.
"You mean other people's racism?" A confused Martin asked.
"Everybody's a little racist, Martin," Lily told him. "It's impossible not to grow up in white middle class America and not be a least a little racist, both consciously and subconsciously."
"You'd help me with that," Martin reasoned.
She looked at him with intrigue. "You would better understand race and racism if we dated," she predicted. "You'd see things through my eyes and learn things you never would've otherwise because you'd see how people treat me."
"I've already seen that," Martin said defensively. "Everybody likes you."
"How many people of minority are there in this school?" Lily wanted to know. "Maybe five African Americans. A couple of Latinos and Hispanics. Two or three Asians."
"If we were dating, you'd be able to check my white privilege," Martin theorized. "I'd be open to experience new insights while getting to know you better," he added.
"Well, forget it, because it's not going to happen," Lily said, standing from her chair. "It's getting late. I should get going."
"I can give you a ride," Martin offered.
Lily absent mindedly stretched, raising her arms above her head while letting out a contented grunt as she stretched. Her sweater rose up exposing her tummy and belly button. Her breasts had flattened from the stretch. She was half turned in her posture so the flab of her backside was protruding toward him.
Then she saw the look on Martin's face and she realized she might have sent him the wrong message. He looked….seduced.
"What are you looking at?" Lily frowned, embarrassed to be caught.
"You look like a ballerina," Martin responded.
"There aren't too many black ballerinas out there," she replied.
Martin stood from his chair and went to the door, locking it closed. He turned off the lights so that only the computer screens were providing light.
"What are you doing?" Lily asked nervously.
"Everybody's gone," Martin whispered.
"I told you I need to leave."
"Are you sure, Lillian?"
"Why are you calling me Lillian?" She asked uncomfortably. "Everybody calls me Lily."
"You call me Martin when everybody else calls me Marty," he replied.
Martin stepped closer and he took her hand in his. He lifted it up to his mouth and gave it a kiss, his warm breath sending a chill up her spine. He brushed his lips against her skin and Lily sucked in her breath.
"Don't," she warned.
"Why not?" He purred, still holding her hand against his mouth,
Lily gazed into his memorizing blue eyes. She saw desire that sent a shiver through her veins. She tried to tear her eyes away but she couldn't.
"I want to know the secrets of your heart," Martin said, slowing leaning in until their lips met.
Lily was not expecting Martin's kiss and she was even more surprised when his tongue probed her lips hoping for an entrance into her mouth. She was equally as surprised when she opened her mouth and allowed his tongue to dance with hers and she wrapped her arms around his neck, sliding her fingers into his black curly hair while kissing him with fascination and reckless abandonment.
Martin walked her toward the couch in the corner of the room and Lily knew she should have said no but her heart was screaming yes.
A/N - (*) - Morris Danielson and Marie Johnson-Rodriquez appear in Profiles in Courage