At the time we were having trouble with some other girls.
Kendra and I walked to the community center.
There was a long line for tickets.
We were performing and were supposed to be back stage before the show began.
We pushed past people.
"We’re in the show!"
We were let through.
In the auditorium, street workers stood behind a table searching people and their bags.
I was tense. "We are dancing in the show," I said. "We’re late and we need to sign in."
"Everyone must be searched . . . especially you, Talia."
The street worker, a woman, saw the bat in my hand. "Why are you carrying a bat?"
"It’s a prop for our performance."
I slowly took off my book bag and set it on the table.
She searched the small pockets.
Then she unzipped the bag. She moved around my things.
I knew when she felt it because she looked up at me and asked me to come closer.
I leaned in toward the table.
She whispered in my ear, "Why are you carrying a gun?"
"It’s not mine. I am holding it for someone," I said.
"I am holding the bag," she said, "Until the show is over and everyone has completely dispersed."
"All right," I said. "Just don’t call the cops."
The show had started.
The auditorium was packed.
The crowd was loud.
And I was amped.
The MC introduced our group, "Give it up for Double Impact!"
The crowd chanted along with the song, "Hip Hop Hooray." They swung their arms from left to right while we swung our bats.
The bats made us feel tougher.
The crowd cheered.
After the show I waited behind stage. When the building cleared, the street worker gave me back my book bag.
I walked back to the projects with my loaded book bag, a bat in my hand, and amped by the thrill of performance and being tough.