The end of the bat catches him square on the chin. Blood spits from his mouth as his head snaps sharply back.
He drops at my feet. The knife falling from his slack hand.
I can't move for a second, the impact of the bat jarring through me like an aftershock, the crack of his jaw echoing in my ears. But I am still standing.
The man is completely still. Allah, please, no . . .
He lies face down in the dirt, blood running from his mouth and chin. No, no, no. I can't have killed him. Can't have. I only meant to keep him from killing me. I didn't mean to--
My stomach retches, and I bend forward, heave into the dirt. My hands are covered with a spray of bloodhis blood. I get sick again.
Maybe he isn't dead, I tell myself. Maybe he'll wake up later.
He would've killed me, I tell myself. And as I think it, I realize someone still might. I straighten, look up quickly, ready the bat in case someone else is coming at me. There are bodies all over the courtyard. A pile of them blocks off the front entrance, and the mob I came with has spread itself out, picking off the others coming out the windows now. I don't see any women. Or children. I don't know if it means they're all still trapped inside, or if they just weren't here today. I hope, I pray it's the latter.
Just then, Sameer sprints by with a couple other men on their way to the back of the gurdwara, where more must be trying to escape. He catches my eye, glances down at the body at my feet, the bat in my hand, and raises his own bat in salute. He gestures for me to follow before disappearing around the side of the building.
But I don't. I throw the bat down next to the man I hitthe man who hasn't moved, hasn't even stirred. Then I turn and run.
Excerpted from A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury. Copyright © 2013 by Jennifer Bradbury. Excerpted by permission of Atheneum Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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