Fighting Syrens

“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.”
-Maya Angelou

Why I Write

I started really taking an interest in writing in the 4th grade because we used to have to journal in class. I’ve always loved to journal and to be able to get my thoughts out on paper but what was also very different from creating story especially fiction. I always had thoughts and ideas that I could never quite develop or explain. The first characters I created were Amy & Jake I don’t know why I picked those names or any of that but they were the first. I used to write almost like a series of them and their lives. They went on adventures. What I loved so much about them is that they were great friends to each other and that time I didn’t really have any friends. If I did it wasn’t something I should be proud of because they didn’t treat me as a friend. So that’s what I saw in Amy & Jake friendship. Their friendship started a passion. 

My first inspirations to become a young adult writer is of course L. Divine her books kept my passion alive. They are my idols and I admire their characters and story development so much. L. Divine’s main character Jayd was is so powerful and carried so much strength and I knew when I wrote this novel that I wanted the lead character to embody strength in her own way.

Life on Wattpad

What I love the most about Wattpad is the constant feedback. Comments, votes, messages, and readers writing to you it’s almost as if I’m reading my work  to my readers. To see them enjoy my art and what I put into it’s truly a beautiful experience. Some comments have brought me to tears because they’re so genuine and every comment is special to me it touches me in some way. For that I think my time and experience on Wattpad has been amazing it’s a journey I love my readers and the community. 

The Excerpt

This book in its entirety is dedicated to victims of police brutality. Especially those who didn’t get the justice that they deserved. To all the hashtags that look like me this is my voice to you.

Chapter 1: Stuck Together

“Don’t you think Mike will find it a little weird that you stare at him every single day without saying anything at all.” Taking a deep breath and to look at my best friend turn Ember.

“I’ve been doing it for over six years now Em it’s a little too late for me be worried if he thinks I’m weird or not and if her did I wouldn’t care because I am weird and I do stare.” I throw my coffee out because I’m not in the slightest mood to hear my phycology teacher throw shots at me about caffeine addiction.

We take our seats in the front of class. “I don’t get it Syren why can’t you tell Mike you like him.” She “whispered” loud enough for the entire class to hear.

“Because committing social suicide is the last thing on my bucket list.” I whisper back to her while the rest of our classmates, Mike Included, file into our 2nd period class.

Mike had the voice of an Angel like sit down Chris Brown and August Alsina Mike is here. He could play practically every musical instrument there was and he stays in the studio. From what I hear of course it’s not like I stalk his twitter every chance I get. Okay maybe I do but how else is a girl supposed fulfil her crush needs. Did I forget to mention he is the captain of the basketball team? On that note I’m not the only girl at this school with eyes for him.

Mike isn’t exactly known for dating around matter of fact he’s dated Trinity since junior high and they are glued at the hip. Of course they would be together basketball star since 6th grade and the cheer captain along with being the “prettiest” girl at our high school according to Twitter polls. From what I hear Trinity is supposed to be really nice I would never know because she and I don’t come anywhere near the same social circles.

I mean come on now I take the pictures and her crowd poses for them. Mike included, me confessing my endless love for the guy that is dating the Beyoncé of my high school would not end pretty or someone who is barely excepted as a part of the poppin social circle. As of now I’m rarely invited to anything I do not want to be shunned from the few things I can attend.

“Good morning, we’re starting with an age-old topic in the black community. I thought it would interesting considering Viola Davis’s Oscar win.” My teacher, Mr. Finn, is an old black man who used to teach at Howard University but left the professor life to come teach high-schoolers phycology.

The room was dead silent. Washington DC is pretty diverse and our high school is no different. We have people from all walks of life but the crazy minority is black people who enjoy being black. Which utterly sucked when your parents are prominent black leaders and you’re destined to follow.

“Who cares Mr. Finn, everybody knows light skin winning any day.” Mike says speaking up in the class once and Ember turns and gives me the pettiest look of the century.

“And why is that Michael?” Mr. Finn takes off his wire framed glasses and folds them neatly before peering off at Mike in the back of the class.

“Because dark skin people, chicks especially, usually as ratchet as they come whereas light skin people, especially girls, just carry themselves better and that’s facts.” He preaches as he just dropped some knowledge on the entire class.

My face begins to heat up and I promised myself I wouldn’t go off in this man class but somebody child is already testing me. I carry myself with the utmost respect and dignity. Other than myself Ember was the only full black girl in the room. Ember is  lighter than I am and she rarely gets the slack black girls at my school gets but she still gets it.

“And this is me calling your bullshit Mike, Syren isn’t rachet and she carries herself better than half the girls you hang out with.” Ember speaks out and I want to disappear.

“Language, Miss Blackwell.” Mr. Finn scolds Ember sternly.

“She hardly counts because she ain’t really nobody.” Mike scoffs rolling his eyes at Ember.

“And you are.” I retort defending myself. “Oh that’s right a raggedy little boy who wishes they were a pop star, who depends on his girlfriend for every little thing.

The first time he speaks up he has to have ignorance dripping from every inch of his words. That’s just like a handsome guy they finally speak up and I wish they would just shut up.

“Shut your monkey ass up Syren don’t nobody care about you.” He laughs again causing him and his other friends to laugh.

“See your little fight the power act will soon be over. Your type is out of style. You belong outside with the rest of the field slaves plotting on how you’ll be as good as us in the house.” Mike continues wiping the smiles off of his friends who no longer see the humor in his words.

Mr. Finn raises his hand to interrupt but I stop him.

“And Mike you see your little tear down the sista for a white girl act is pathetic. Because you would rather be in the house waiting on your massa while I’m out here plotting to break these chains free. The brotha in the field is who I fight the power for. You are just a sorry snitch in the house.” I lock my eyes with his and for a second and only a second he looks hurt but it’s quickly replaced with anger.

“Okay enough the both of you. I know this debate would get heated but the language and the belittling of one another is not something tolerated in my class.  I’ve never seen either one of you behave this way and I have got to say I am disappointed. I want to see both of you after class.

My little crush on him went out the window just like that. I would never date someone so ignorant and disgusting as Mike Rogers and that’s for sure.

“Yes sir.” I say quietly.  Mike nods the same thing.

“I wanted this to be civil but clearly it couldn’t be. Get something out to write with pick one of the topics and write a short argument. It’s due at the bell to be graded.” Mr. Finn says rising from his seat on top of his desk making his way to the chair.

“Ember why did you drag me in that?” I whisper to her.

“Syren your my friend and he was basically trashing girls that look like you.” She smiles weakly.

“At least I know to move on now he’s a complete asshole.” I give her a weaker smile back.

“I can’t believe he said any of that. He seemed like a nice guy. But we’ve never really talked to him and plus all his social media is private.” Ember shrugs and returns to her school work.

Mike always seemed nice enough but he’s just another brother who can’t see the world properly.

I start scribbling anxiously on the paper. I’m nervous about the talk with Mr. Finn I haven’t been in any kind of trouble at school really. It’s funny how the conversation went is far left that we have to be spoken to outside of class. I’ve been in school with Mike for over a decade and he’s usually quiet in class and he’s very nice to other people. He and I have never made any comments towards each other and I was under the impression that we didn’t know each other. But he seemed to know a lot about me.

I tap my pen on my desk. I’m not well-known at our school. I hang out in the journalism class a lot with the other photographers and writers. Besides seeing some of my work in the school news paper or magazine. Even then my hard-hitting pieces are published online.

I peek a little over my shoulder to see if the rest of the athletic crowd are looking my way and sure enough they are. I feel like an idiot for assuming that the well-rounded musical genius would be a complex individual.

I finish up my assignment early and decide to finish reading Black. It’s about a black girl in New Orleans who goes to a predominately white school and is dealing with her mothers impending death.

Just when I’m sinking deeper into the main characters budding romance and the bell rings my hearts drops and I feel the nervousness pumping through my veins. Mr. Finn is a tough teacher and he hands out detentions like it’s a party invitation.

I stay seated I my desk until the class files out. Ember gives me a sympathetic pat on my shoulder.

“It’ll be okay girl!” She says quickly before leaving the classroom.

Mike attempts to leave behind his friends.

“Mr. Rogers come have a seat please. It’s free period and just as you wasted  my time in class with your inappropriate uneducated comments I will waste your time.” He nods to a see beside me at the front of the room.

He makes eye contact with me and he looks completely pissed off.

“I haven’t had a problem with either of you all year. Today that debate got more heated than I intended. Syren I’ve read your work and I do believe it was your words that you said ,” I love all of my African brothers and sisters alike it doesn’t matter if they got lost along the path to mental freedom.”‘

I sink further into my seat as he uses my own words against me.

“But today to hear you say forget about the brothers on the inside. You forgot the power you hold. I’ve seen you take on bigger fights more adequately than you have this one. You lost your poise and that was disappointing.” Mr. Finn looks at me with so much disappointment that I can’t even hold my fiery reaction.

“And Mr. Rogers nice to know you have a voice one as unintelligent should’ve stayed silent.” Mr. Finn comments to him pointedly.

Wait so I get the lecture and he gets a little snide comment? No fair.

Mike just keeps his jaw locked and stares straight ahead.

“Today is not something I’ll be tolerated. So I’ve created something that will be perfect for the both of you.” He clasps his smiling brightly.

“I want you both to spend the rest of the semester together. Every single day. Of course you’ll sleep at your own homes but until that point comes you will be together. Don’t worry I’ve emailed your parents and our principal who thought it would be excellent ideas after they heard your little outburst. At then end you both will be doing a mini presentation on your time together. It’s worth half of your grade and I expect a follow-up each day starting tomorrow.” I am screaming in my head.

“I can’t do that Mr. Finn I have practice, studio, time and a girlfriend. I can’t have her following me around.” Mike suddenly speaks up.

I scoff. “Neither can I you know I just got on a new internship you’re the one who wrote my recommendation. I can’t have ignorance trailing behind and besides I have things to do with my school paper. My persona life!” I exclaim.  Granted if you would have asked me this morning would I want to spend time with this guy it would have been a yes no further questions but after the constant dissing I am
most opposed of it.

“It’s called balance find it. I know I gave you the rules and they must be followed.” He looks to his watch.

“You have 20 minutes left of free period you better get to know each other.” He shoos us out of his classroom.

I can’t be stuck with him. I start rushing off to the journalism class. Until Mike grips my book bag tightly pulling me back to him.

“What the hell don’t touch me.” I shrug him off of me.

He rolls his eyes at my outburst. “Look whatever I have an F in this class. I need to do this correctly. We need to figure something out that works for both of us.”

“Well I have over 100 in that class and I don’t care what happens to you or your grades.” I spin around and continue on my path.

He grabs my back pack roughly once again. “No, you will give a fuck about my grades Syren. We are in the project together. As embarrassing as it is for me I would expect you to have sympathy. Or maybe not I don’t care I just know this was a silver lining for me and I intend on using it to my advantage.”

“Fine you have practice Monday, Wednesday , and Friday I have my own thing Tuesday and Thursday we’ll alternate.” I say before attempting to head off only resulting to him grabbing my arm roughly.

“Stop running off we need to think of something better. I hang out with my friends and Trinity plus my studio time. Tuesday and Thursday  are going to have to be mine too.” He is selfish to what a nice character trait.

“I have friends and a life.” I state simply. “This just won’t work.” I furrow my brows. Why am I stuck with this selfish ignorant jack ass?

“Okay make it work. Well do your things during the school day and some of the night on Tuesday and Thursday and afternoons on the other days we’ll do my things. If something gets canceled for me we’ll do yours. Vice Versa.” He drags me over to a bench in the hall way pulling out a piece of paper.

“What are you doing.” I ask shaking my arm free from his tight ass grip.

“Writing down rules. We need some structure to this. So sit your ass down.” He points to the seat on the other side of the bench.

“Fine go.” I start to play in my hair so he knows how bored I am with him already.

“Number one, Syren must not speak to my friends or girlfriend even in their company. Number two, Syren must not mention anything personal about me to anyone. Number three, Syren friends should stay away from my friends at all cost. Number four, Syren shouldn’t expect calls or text from at anytime other than to inform each other of whereabouts. And number five, Syren has to straighten her hair once a week. Now you make the other five.” He hands me the pen and paper.

He probably assumes that I have short hair or something can’t wait to prove him wrong.

“Okay, Number six, Mike should sit in the hall of all of my meetings and writing periods. Number seven, Mike will be seen and not heard at all of my activities involving friends. Number eight, Mike will watch Dark Girls to hopefully lose some of his ignorance. Number nine, Mike will not touch any of my photo equipment ever. Number ten, Mike will stay out of my personal life and to keep all comments to himself concerning my personal life.”

“Alright that’s fine.” He rolls his eyes at me one last time. “Today is Thursday so I’ll come with you. First we need to go talk to my girlfriend before she freaks out on me.

“Just meet me for lunch I have things to do.” I sigh before picking up my backpack.

“No we have ten minutes we need to do this together. Mr. Finn will not fail me because of you.”

“Okay fine let’s just go.” I follow him to the gym where the cheerleaders are wrapping up practice.

Trinity rushes over to him with a big smile on her face that turns to confusion as soon as she sees me.

“Bae, why are you with her.” Her hazel eyes looks me up and down and I instantly shift with discomfort.

He then explained everything to her and she just stared at me like she could punch me in my face at this moment.

“Aww, baby I’m so sorry you got stuck with this project.” She kisses him on the lips before whispering in his ear.

“I know bae, but we can be alone at night.” He said to her before she struts back off to her team.

Jealousy and disgust sweep over me and I roll my eyes.

“Can we go I want to at least see my friends.” I break his stare off his girlfriends ass.

“Fine I want this over with as soon as possible.” He follows behind me.

“If your friends are weird or something keep them from talking to me seriously.” He continues on following me to the journalism class.

Once we enter the room. The familiar chaos makes me feel at ease. Papers and magazine toppling over and the smell of fresh printed paper and over heated computers welcome me.

“Jeremy.” I call out in front of the photo room. I know he likes to develop alone.

Mike stands there somewhat awkwardly and I’m glad for it. Finally somewhere where the king of the school doesn’t fit in.

“One sec Sy.” He shouts from the other side before walking out and embracing me.

“What took you so long Ember texted me and told me what happened in class.” He doesn’t even notice Mike standing right beside me.

Jeremy isn’t short either he stands at a clear 6’1 so and Mike is right there with him.

“Well she told you that Michael Rogers are stuck together for the next couple of months .” He looks over and finally notices Mike standing there.

“Sy, can we talk privately.” He asks attempting to grab me away.

“No she can. The part of our assignment is to be together through everything. No privacy if you have an issue say it.” Mike clenches his jaw towards Jeremy.

“Fine by me, why would you subject yourself to hang out with this ignorant asshole.” He ruffles his long dreads before signaling for us to follow him into the smaller room around back.

“I had no choice Jay. But I already told him when we hang out and stuff hell just be quiet and during class and meeting he’ll be sitting right by the door.” I plead with him. Jeremy has been my friend since we started high school and he has a bone to pick with most athletes for cutting the budget on our program causing our class fee to triple.

He stays silent for a minute. He folds his arms and he looks like he’s considering not hanging out with me for the semester.

“If your hair wasn’t so damn cute today I would’ve cut you off.” He smiles before ruffling my hair.

“Thanks Jay.” I kiss him on the cheek. It’s our friendship it’s flirty but causal. Jeremy and I could possibly be more but my crush on Mike was so much to bare. But now that I know that Mike is the worst person to be around maybe I can finally see Jeremy in a better light.

“No problem, but is my article almost done. I needed you on my school mural piece because you are the one with the artistic brain.” He smiles my way.

“Yeah I’ll email it to you but I’ll see you tonight I have to get to class.”

Mike follows me out of the classroom so we can head off to our next class. He’s silent the whole way there. I guess being in a different element will do that to people.

Character Development 

My writing style will almost always cater towards an urban crowd with the hopes of pulling stragglers. I’m writing to catch the attention of the black youth. I believe in having characters and scenarios that relate to our lives as black people no matter the age. Syren and Mike are young and the live through social media. They’re both growing and learning like teens now. They developed so much throughout the book into passionate conscious beings and that’s exactly what I wanted to portray. I dedicated this entire novel to victims of police brutality because it was completed right after Alton Sterling’s wrongful death. This was my wave of addressing problems to my readers. They took a lot from it and I thank you.

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To my readers thank you so much for the journey let’s see how far this goes because all of you were along for the journey!