God Shed His Grace on Thee
Basking Ridge, New Jersey
Ridge High School
We’ve made it, baby: us and the dreamers, the John Lennon moptops and the Hollywood starlets. They love us ‘cause of my Chanel pink dress and this garnet red wine and your amber waves of grain hair when we drive past Ninth Avenue. I think we are the most beautiful couple in the world. I want you to kiss the rhinestone on my glove, spin me ‘round in this shimmering steel kaleidoscope of a street, whisper words divine and iridescent and purple mountains majesty in my ear, and forget, sweet, how Mr. Kennedy was shot in a black Mercedes just like this. When you ask me if I read about the little black boy in the paper, I laugh and ruffle your hair. Don’t be silly, darling, I love our city. Think how the Rock & Roll High-Rise Asphalt Jungle Heartbreak Hotel land of the free glitters for us, forever in peace may it wave as long as you pretend there is no woman shrieking, bullet shattering, black boy body tearing ink through our perfectly azure-cobalt sky. Just look at the rainbow reflected so curiously against the West side of our winking sedan—must be that new Bessemer Steel the stockers rave about. The boy’s brains aren’t spilling bright pink onto the concrete, the policeman isn’t beating bloody the writhing woman, and your goldenness has not fainted in my lap. I love our city, really—now, tilt your blonde head up, darling, let me run my fingers through its flaxen locks while you tell me about that new upstart starlet with the pearl earrings—Claudia, was it? And his chocolate body, poor little boy, is slumped against a lamppost and seven unloaded barrels have blown his head wide open, poor little black boy, but if you ignore it, you’d see that big pile of glass, a million Swarovski shards, catch the sunlight like pinkened crystal roses under his broken chest, poor little dead black bullet-torn boy, ‘cause I think we are the most beautiful couple in the world, marveling at how this industrially magnificent city’s veins pulse silver with the heartbeat of the American Dream of all that is gorgeous in the home of the free and the brave where the new art gallery on West 7th looks impeccable—Andy Warhol really outdid himself there—it’s really all about psychedelic art, I think, if you look at the boy’s blood gallantly streaming onto our torn flag, darling, and put your lips to my ear and tell me how everything is beautiful ‘cause of how much those blood rivers reminds you of Betsy Ross’s seven perfectly crimson stripes what so proudly we hail’d.
Be prepared to experience the two sides of the United States in "God Shed His Grace on Thee": the wealthy living the American dream with flashy cars and glittering jewelry in blissful ignorance as the epidemic of injustice spreads through the veins of America. The story transitions back and forth between a life of perfection and luxury to the horrors of inequality and oppression in this well-crafted narrative.
Samantha Liu is a sixteen year-old from New Jersey. Her work has been recognized with four national medals by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards; published in The Times, elementia, Eunoia Review, Blue Marble, Cathartic Lit, and more; and dubbed by a friend to be "actually okay." When she is not writing, you may find her napping.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR