Kiefer wasn’t the sort of woman who let things get the better of her. She always believed in her strength and would never let anything disturb her in ways that could destroy how she felt or thought.
That was until she moved to a little town in the north of Germany. Everyone said north Germany was the best place for any Ausländer. They all said she would feel right at home because the town she was moving to was with a ton of foreigners and that she was bound to bump into someone who spoke her Muttersprache.
Packing up all she could which didn’t amount to more than a 25kg suitcase wasn’t the hardest thing she had to do. She was excited about the new possibilities of a different life she was going to be facing. She remembered how excited her siblings were about it like she was going with them. Of course she would miss them, but this was what she wanted, had dreamed about and no one was happier than Kiefer.
Not that she had never been anywhere aside from where she called home. No. She had once visited the grand New York as a teenager and then Great Britain too. She even spent a summer once in Greece with an old boyfriend which had been her wake up call to life.
Learning the local language of the Germans hadn’t been as tough as her Irish neighbour had said. Truth be told, her deutsch was a lot better than her English. It took her about a year to perfect her language skills and being able to get a job was another great achievement she checked off her list.
As she prepped for work this morning, she couldn’t help thinking about the different ways she could have handled every situation that had taken place in the five months she started working with the firm. It was an online shopping firm and everyone was basically in everyone’s face. There wasn’t anything private in the work room and to be honest, it felt a bit like boarding school to her, where the cool kids were friendly to the cooler kids. The pretty girls were nice to the prettier ones and the smart kids looked down on the ones who needed extra time to learn a formula in physics class but in her case, softwares.
Things needed to be different and she was totally frightened to take a stand. No one was doing that for her and as much as she would love to quietly do her job, she knew things needed to be different. They had to be.
She could hear her coworkers inside as she walked in from the cold Parkplatz into the warmth of the office, getting ready to start the day. As she pushed open the doors, her heart racing, her breath calm, everyone went silent. She could tell they were still talking about the event of Friday. Why wouldn’t they? It had been major and she had handled it so stupidly.
In all her life growing up around people who had the same skin color as she, she had never had to experience racism in its ugly form. Sure, back home she had lost a job because she wasn’t the same tribe as the other applicants but that had been the extent of it. Never in her life had anyone ever discriminated against her based on her skin color and it had felt so strange. Which is why the second time it had happened, she hadn’t been prepared either. Had she complained to the boss? First time yes and he had done nothing. Not even a short suspension. So naturally, she hadn’t bothered to make another complaint because she knew that her boss or team leader wasn’t going to deal with it in a way that would satisfy her.
A coworker who was also foreign had cornered her in the bathroom and explained that she could go to the police station and file a complaint but she wasn’t cut out for things like that. Balling her eyes out wasn’t a better option either because it made her look vulnerable but she could just as easily wipe off her tears and move on. Police complaints dragged and sometimes ended up in courts and she didn’t have the strength to deal with legal issues. Filing her taxes was quite enough.
Normally, she would say a general good morning but today, today she took a quick scan of the room and settled her eyes for a brief moment on the one person she needed to have a talk with. Renata Harding was even prettier than she was last week which didn’t make any sense. How could a monster such as she not show her ugly self? It made no sense whatsoever.
“Renata Harding…”, Kiefer began, movimg towards Renata and adjusting the straps of her shoulder bag to her left so she could use her right hand to emphasise her next words. “If you ever speak to me again the way you did last Friday, I am going to cut you up into tiny little pieces and feed your racist flesh to the sharks that live in the sea where I used to live before I came here.”
Of course no sharks were in her home country. Hell, she had never even seen any for that matter. Her idea of what sharks are came from the Stephen Spielberg Jaws movie she saw as a kid and she didn’t even live close to a sea either but Renata didn’t need to know that.
“I am sick and tired of having you and everyone else here”, she looked up, using her eyes to indicate that she meant the past bullies and future ones too before settling back on Renata “talk to me differently because I am a lot darker than you are. If you do not want to spend the rest of your miserable lives going in and out of a courtroom, then you best watch the way you deal with foreigners because I know for a fact that racism isn’t tolerated in this country.”
Walking over to her neatly arranged desk, she hoped no one could hear the fast beating of her heart. This wasn’t how she had planned to deal with Friday’s event but there you go.