Handlebar Hijabs and Skipping Synopses

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2019 Barrett Winner

2nd Place Baraka Elmadari

The car parked in front of me looked like something out of a movie. An old, powder blue pick-up with three miniature American flags. I knew the person already but I hated myself for assuming so quickly. The car was a little rustic like the man in my head. I walked to see the back of the car and was disappointed that I was so right: Trump/Pence. The only thing that surprised me was that it was the library parking lot.

I stepped into the library and walked around for a bit. I was searching for a specific book, one that fit exactly the car outside. Rule #1: Never judge a book by its cover. But this cover had the story written all over the back…or on the top.

I found him easily in the sea of computers like a red mark on a map. He was a man probably in his 60s with white hair and a handle bar mustache that dragged down, making him look like he was frowning. Maybe he was, I really couldn’t tell. I sat at the computer in front of him. I wondered what he was doing on that computer. I wondered how he was judging me.

Hopefully not the same way I was judging him. He had the controversial red hat on and I had the controversial hijab on. His screamed ‘I’m a racist bigot but don’t know any better by the way I was raised.’ And maybe mine whispered ‘I was forced to wear this and my messy bun under it is probably a bomb.’

I just waited until he looked up at me and then smiled. A genuine smile. I saw his mustache twitch as he smiled back.