The Mockingbirds -- fiction by Sena Chang
“Hey, Boo,” Scout timidly said, her words almost rendering me to tears. The voice I had expected to be unforgiving and terror-stricken instead pierced my heart with its sincerity. Scout showed not an ounce of gratitude towards the courageous way I had battled Ewell, which I appreciated. She would never know the dire consequences that would follow her confession. A situation so desperate that I was forced out of my safe haven had presented itself tonight, resulting in a life lost and two lives saved.
Bob Ewell had lost every bit of humanness left in him tonight by attempting to severely injure two children. It was deplorable in every aspect. Yet I felt the same fury that he had towards Maycomb. It was the way that its people’s minds were so tightly wound by prejudice, their reasoning completely based off of many evil assumptions.
“Heck, if this thing’s hushed up it’ll be a simple denial to Jem of the way I’ve tried to raise him.” Atticus’s words cut through the silence, breaking me out of my reverie. I stood ever so rigidly with a look of consternation, for this would signal an end to my reclusive life. A terrorizing scene unraveled itself before my eyes; swarms of women pouring into my domicile like parasites, wreaking havoc upon my carefully constructed circle of security. It was not glory that I sought from this town but respect. Respect for my privacy, decisions, and me, as a person.
It was unjust; why was I to be punished for doing what was morally correct? My mouth stayed frozen, for I felt like an imposter in my own town. Who was I to have a say in an argument between an officer and a renowned lawyer? It was ultimately my own chronic self doubt that silenced me from intervening. As the argument unfolded, it was fear that grabbed me from all sides of the dark room, for my quiet life was at stake.
“I may not be much, Mr. Finch, but I’m still sheriff of Maycomb County and Bob Ewell fell on his knife. Good night, sir.” Heck had ended, stamping off the porch.
It was then that my own narrative of the town began to shatter, for I believed that we, as a town, were all victims of the epidemic that had wrecked the Deep South and made me lose faith in our institutions- intolerance. It was exactly this that spurred them to shoot innocent beings- us mockingbirds. This, that blurred their conscience, clouding their every sense of morality. Yet there was hope for redemption in this town where we are all so tightly trapped in our small minds, I realized with awe, for Heck Tate had pushed aside his obligations as an officer to protect me. Though it was an act seemingly minor, I considered it a great leap towards justice, especially in 1930.
“Will you take me home?” I murmured as we sat on the Finchs’ porch many minutes later, my lips curving upwards ever so slightly. It was the last gift Scout would ever receive from me— the gift of empathy. She would unknowingly feel how I would when walking down the street- a monstrous, inhumane creature. Side by side, as two mockingbirds would fly, we headed towards the Finch House.
The stars raining down on us and the stuffy summer air of Maycomb filling our lungs, we trudged our way down the road. We glanced over at Mrs. Dubose’s camellias, Scout’s eyes resting on them for a mere second before she averted her eyes back to the road. However, there was something much more profound than Jem’s strong hatred of those snow-white flowers. Racism was a pale camellia, deeply rooted in the soul of this town. We could destroy its petals, rip at its stems, yet we must pull it up by its roots to erase its existence. Likewise, it is with empathy that we combat these problems for frivolous actions will merely scratch the surface of a system that is institutionally racist. Nevertheless, an eternal cloud of racism would hang over Maycomb, yet it would never cast its shadow on those two children.
I peered over at Scout, knowing that her open-mindedness will propel this town forward, past its ignorance. It was her childlike naivete that I secretly admired so greatly; it was the same gleam in her eyes that I once had before I lost them forever to Maycomb’s people. Therefore I felt an obligation to protect her from a world that is willing to swallow up her innocence as quickly as they did for mine.
The last slivers of exhilaration fading within my body, I gently shut the door, getting a final glimpse of the star-scattered night sky.
As I walked in, Nathan Radley— the malicious devil and the cause of all my anguish— stood before me, seething with anger. Ignited in his eyes was the same fury that had appeared after he had discovered our secret knothole- the purely murderous look I had seen in Bob Ewell’s eyes tonight. Towering over me, I saw the culmination of his many reprimands and feared for what awaited my fate.
Sena Chang is a musician, poet, and writer. In addition to writing poetry related mainly to her Asian heritage and Kafkaesque scenarios, Chang is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Pandemic of ‘19 Project. There, she seeks to give a voice to Tokyo's youth through creative writing and other mediums of art. Through her writing, she hopes to promote the importance of creativity in the world of academia, especially in a society with a growing emphasis on academic success. Her most recent works have appeared or are forthcoming in Ayaskala Literary Magazine, Raised Brow Press, and The International Educator, among others.