The night this picture was taken was the last time I saw Joseph.
I was 17, on my way to graduatin’ high school. Joseph was 20; he was waitin’ around in this small town for me. When I graduated, we was gettin’ married and leavin’ this town.
We was at the little diner in town, announcin’ our engagement. Our friends Louis and Lucy was congratulatin’ us, helpin’ us plan out the next few years of our life together.
We sat at the table, laughin’ and havin’ a good time. Benny, the bartender, brought over our usual beers and set them down.
“Can I have a soda tonight, Benny?” I asked.
Joseph winked at me and squeezed my knee.
“So next is a house and then…. A baby,” Lucy said with a giggle. We all laughed, especially me and Joseph. If only they knew.
Hours later, I was gettin’ tired, and Lucy offered to walk me home. Joseph kissed my forehead, and held me close to him.
I was halfway out the door when I heard the shocked “Hey!”
I turned just in time to see Joseph, runnin’ at a white man at the bar. The white man was holdin’ a gun.
“Joseph!” I screamed.
I ran toward him, but Lucy had a firm grip on my arm.
A gunshot went off. My ears rang, my vision went black. My voice was hoarse when Lucy finally got me to the street.
“Joseph! Where is he?!” I screamed.
Louis came out of the diner.
“Louis, where’s Joseph?” Louis looked at me, his face pale.
I heard the sirens before I saw the cop cars. They surrounded the diner. A group had formed, all forcing me back, not lettin’ me inside.
Then they wheeled him out. One bloody, white sheet coverin’ him.
One bullet wound to the head. My world stopped.
I never married after that, but I raised our son on my own. In the town his daddy grew up in, the town we found love in.
One bullet wound to the head, on the happiest day of our lives.
Story by Autumn Campbell