A/N –Almost done. After all the work of writing this story, I can't believe it's almost done.
They started learning about the Freedom Riders. While Ms. G played the video, Gloria, who was holding Madison, was sure to hide Madison's eyes from the gruesome imagines from the video. Paige smiled thankfully at her.
Ben: In 1961 an interracial civil rights group travelled by bus to the south to challenge segregation. Blacks sat in the front, white in the back. They were attacked, firebombed, but they kept going. In Montgomery, Alabama, Jim Zwerg offered to be the first off the bus, knowing there was a mob waiting for them.
He was almost beaten to death so the others could get away. That kind of courage was unbelievable to me. I was afraid of even being in this class. I was ashamed because I've always been the dumb kid in school, even with my friends.
But not anymore. And I must have some kind of courage, because I could have lied to get out of here, but I stayed. I stayed. And now I get to see Paige, who's in here because she missed half a year of school because she was pregnant, with her daughter Madison, and I think 'this is what strength is'.
Andre: Ms. G made us read Twelve Angry Men. It's all about how this one juror helped change the hearts of eleven jurors. It made me feel hopeful. At two o'clock today my brother was given a verdict at his own trail. No OJ dream team. Just a court-appointed attorney who probably thought his ass was guilty.
Andre stormed into the apartment and stripped off his tie as he stormed into his room. He grabbed his basketball and fumed.
And I realized: Twelve Angry Men was just a book, nothing more. My brother got fifteen years to life! Justice don't mean a bad guy goes to jail. It just means somebody pays for the crime.
Andre went to get something from the kitchen. He was about to open the fridge when he saw the plate on the counter. It was covered with cookies. He looked into the living room, and say Madison and Paige passed out. He could see some sprinkles still on Madison's hand, like the ones of the cookies.
But, almost against my will, I still felt hope. I look at the little girl, sleeping on the floor, and I feel like she's my own daughter. My brother's not gonna get to come home any time soon, but I still had family.
Sophomore year, spring semester.
Paige looked around nervously in class. Andre was nowhere to be seen. "Anyone know where Andre's been?" Ms. G asked a few days later.
"I haven't seen him on the bus" Marcus told her.
"I haven't talked to him either"
"I haven't seen him at home much. And I'm usually up pretty late with homework and early with Madison" Paige told her.
As Ms. G started writing something on the board, Tito raised his hand. "Ms. G?" she smiled over at him. "Are we going to have the same room next year again?"
"I don't know. You're going to be juniors next year" Ms. G told them happily.
"What do you mean?" Ben asked.
"Well, I teach freshmen and sophomore years" Ms. G told them.
"You mean, we're not gonna be with you next year?" Brandy asked slowly.
"I don't teach juniors, I thought you guys understood that?" Ms. G said slowly.
Everyone started talking, not happy. "You don't want to be our teacher next year?"
"Of course I do. I can't" Ms. G told them.
"It's the Board of Ed." Victoria told them. "It's regulations. Ms. G hasn't been here long enough to have seniority"
Everyone was talking, not happy at all, and getting madder at the second.
"They can't do that" Eva said. "What about Madison? What about us? Ms. G, this is our kickin' spot. Everybody's cool with everybody. Everybody knows everybody. This is the only place we get to really be ourselves. There's no place like this out there for us"
"It's true" Sindy agreed.
"I'm not allowed to teach junior and seniors" Ms. G said again.
"Ms. G, we can fight this" Ben said. "You know, like the Freedom Riders."
"Yeah, yeah," Marcus agreed, "we all drive around on a bus, only this time, they try and bust us up we bust a few of them board member's heads."
Andre came back to his apartment late that night. It was dark, so he figured Paige and Madison would both be asleep as he made his way to his room.
He stopped next to the door to his brother's room. It hadn't been touched.
He opened the door to his room, and the lamp was on. Lying on his bed was Paige. She was still dressed, as if she had been waiting for him.
Andre went to the front room to check on Madison, but she was all tucked in and fast asleep. Andre went back to his room, and noticed Paige's journal on the floor, a pen lying between the two open pages, ink fresh.
He slowly picked it up, trying not to wake Paige. She hadn't been getting much sleep, he knew.
I'm scared. Andre had been acting so strange. I think I know why. His brother has been sent to jail. It's hard to find that there is still injustice in the world, especially since Ms. G has given us all so much hope, but it is still there.
There are innocent men and women going to jail for things they didn't do, children getting abused by parents that shouldn't have kids, and family torn apart because of circumstance.
I can understand if Andre gave up. But, I hope that he will find his way again. If this life of sneaking around and shadows is what he chooses, I can't stop him. But I can't let Madison be raised like this.
Andre is like a father to Madison. He cares for her so much. Sometimes, I'll watched him with her, and it feel like my heart is so full it will burst.
Sometimes, I wish that we could be a real family. I care for Andre a great deal, and I want him to know that I will always be there for him.
I want him to know that even when everything seems to be going wrong, Madison and I will be here, with hope.
Andre felt tears welling up in his eyes as he read. He gently shut the journal and put it back on the ground, sitting on his bed next to the sleeping redhead.
He had been feeling a little of what she had expressed in her journal. Paige was a beautiful girl, and more than that, she was amazing. With Madison, with the other kids in 203, and with him.
Andre gently tucked his comforter around her and kissed her forehead, turning off the lamp and letting her get some sleep.
He went to the front room and carefully lifted Madison off the floor and held the tiny, sleeping body to his chest as he lay down of the couch. He fell sleep with Madison in his arms.
Paige woke up the next morning in Andre's room. She slowly got up, turning the light, that she was sure had been on when she fell asleep, back on. She sleepily made her way to the front room to check on Madison, and smiled at what she saw.
Andre was stretched out on the couch with his arms around Madison, who was fast asleep on his chest.
Paige smiled fondly and started making breakfast. As it got later in the morning, Paige set breakfast on the counter and went over to the couch. She took Madison from Andre's arms and set her on the floor, turning back to the boy.
"Hey, Andre. Time to wake up" she shook his awake. Andre's eyes opened slowly, and he stretched, wiping at his eyes. "I'm up" he said sleepily.
Paige picked up Madison, who was also awake, and changed her, getting ready to feed her.
"Listen, Paige. Can we talk for a sec?" Andre asked as Paige set Madison on the high chair they had gotten from an old woman in the complex.
Paige turned to Andre and slowly nodded, unsure what he was going to say.
"I know I messed up. After my brother's verdict, I shut you out, and I'm sorry. I read your journal entry. I'm sorry I've been such a screw up with you and Madison, but I want to get back. I want to go back to how we were. A family" Andre told her, trying to convey his feelings.
Paige smiled and held out the spoon and bowl of oatmeal she was feeding Madison. Andre smiled and grabbed then, ready to feed his baby girl.
Paige turned around, but before she knew it, she felt a pair of lips on her own. Paige gasped and almost fell back, but his arms slid around her waist, holding her up. Paige's hand found his shoulders and held on.
When the need for air was getting to be too much, Paige pulled back, breathing heavily. "I really care about you too" Andre said with a smug smile.
Paige rolled her eyes and smiled back before moving one hand to the back of his neck and pulling him back to her for another kiss.
Ms. G was glad when she saw Andre walking to class, holding Madison, while Paige was carrying her books. Oh, she was peeved with him, of course, but he was back.
"Andre" Ms. G stopped him from going into the room. "Just wait a second, please" Andre nodded and handed Madison to Paige, who kissed his cheek and went inside, smiling at Ms. G.
When Ms. G came back into the room, Andre followed a few minutes after. He sat down next to Paige and smiled, taking her hand, ready for class.
Ms. G stood up front as everyone was silent, waiting for her new. "I want you all to know that Dr. Cohn and I tried very hard" she told them. "But it has been decided that we can't continue with each other junior year"
Instantly there were sounds of protests. Paige squeezed Andre's hand, worried.
"No!" Marcus' voice quieted the room. "That don't fly, Ma."
Paige looked at Andre questioningly, not understanding the phrase. Ms. G looked pissed.
"Look, first of all I'm not anyone's mother in here, okay?"
"No" Andre told her, releasing Paige's hand. "It doesn't mean mother"
"It's a sign of respect for you" Eva told her softly. Paige smiled and cradled Madison, who was smiling and waving at Ms. G, who looked slightly stunned.
It was silent for a moment. "Listen to me, all of you" Ms. G said firmly. "Don't use me as another excuse for why you can't make it. You made it to your junior year. Think about how you did that. Everyone in this room has a chance to graduate.
"For some, you'll be the first in your family. The first with the choice to go to college. For some, it means a chance at a better life for you family" Ms. G looked at Paige and Madison.
"Some may move faster than others, but you'll each have the chance. And you did that, not me. Now, I have one final project in mind"
Eva: Ms. G wanted us to put our diaries together in a book. Just like Anne Frank. She got this business man, John Tu, to donate thirty-five computers so we could work. She told us we had something to say to people.
We weren't just kids in a class anymore. We were writers with our own voices, our own stories, and even if no one read it, the book would be something to leave behind that said 'we were here. This is what happened. We mattered, even if it was just to each other, and we won't forget.'
Ms. G didn't promise it would get published or anything, but we could get it out there ourselves. She asked us to come up with a title. Something to call ourselves.
The Freedom Writers Diary