Hiding under the stairs I noticed movement between the slats. I stopped and turned around. Cautiously walking around the frame I saw two whites staring right towards me. I walked slowly towards the direction as I knew it was a person, maybe a child.
I knelt down and as I came closer to him I saw his arms go up and cover his face as if I was going to hit him. He tried to twist his feet so that he could escape easily. I managed to find an old torn newspaper and made this my seat.
He quickly became aware that I was not going to harm him. He and I sat quietly. So close we could touch each other but our bodies remained separate as if an invisible screen was between us.
I observed his clothing as his shivering began to subside. He was in dirty clothes that looked like they had never seen a rock and water. His shoes had holes in them and the souls looked worn.
I bet he is hungry I thought to myself. I took my purse off of my arm and placed it on my lap. The movement startled him and he jumped back. I sat with my fingers resting on the clasp of my purse. Our eyes locked as if we were in a dual gun war. Each waiting for the other to draw first.
I watched his feet as he crept ever so quietly back to his original spot. He let his eyes drop from mine and they wandered down to what I was holding. I asked him, ” Are you hungry child”?
He nodded at me but still did not move. My eyes lowered to my purse and then I looked back at him. My eyes were speaking to him letting him know he was safe with me. I saw his shoulders relax a little and I opened my purse.
Rummaging through it with his eyes never leaving my fingers I found two items. I handed them to him and he quickly took them. His eyes told me thank-you. The speed of his hands putting the hard candies in his mouth proved that he was near starvation.
We sat for a while. He was enjoying the flavor. I looked between the boards of the stairs. Wondering if anyone had noticed us. It was if the streets had parted. Dropping souls that would interfere. Leaving the two of us alone to discover each other.
He finished his candy and I could read his eyes that he wanted more. I dug in my purse but could only find one piece of gum. I handed it to him and he savored it. When the flavor dissolved he swallowed it.
I don’t know how long the two of us had been sitting there. I knew that I was becoming uncomfortable from my sitting position. I stirred and this time he did not move. I got up and decided that I better go. Errands were waiting to be finished.
I looked at him and smiled. He looked up at me and his sad eyes became his face. I started to tell him that I was going to leave. I was going to tell him to go home when he tugged on my dress.
He stood up and I noticed he was just a small child. No taller than three feet. I asked him, ” Where is your mama? Do you live close to here”?
As fists formed he rubbed his eyes and I could see big tears sliding down his cheeks. My heart was breaking. This child had no home. Or had he run a way from home? I bet his parents are looking for him.
I reached down and gave him a big hug. I wanted to pick him up and take him home with me. But I dare not. The colors of skin separated us. I leaned down and gave him a kiss on the cheek and he wrapped his little arms around my neck. He would not let go and he almost pulled me back to the ground.
We looked at each other with tears in all eyes. We both knew the rules but our hearts were ripping. I couldn’t do it. I could not let him stay here all alone. I took him by his hand and we stepped out into the light of day.
One of his fingers went into his mouth. Afraid but hope bringing us together. I walked forward and he followed me. We made it safely through the city streets and I saw my home in sight.
I stopped and looked at him. I glanced towards the house. He dropped his finger from his mouth. Neither of us said anything. We walked to the front door. I unlocked it and we both went in.
I took him to the kitchen table and had him sit. I opened my refrigerator and took out some left-overs from the night before. Soon I set a piping hot plate filled with biscuits and fried potatoes. The smell of the hot ham infiltrated his nostrils. When I handed him the fork and spoon he wasted no time.
I sat across from him watching. After wards we talked. I asked, “What is your name child”?
“Darrell” he said.
“Do you belong somewhere close to here”?
” I did, but they told me to find another place to eat. Mama said there were too many mouths to feed”.
” Would you like to stay here with me”? He nodded his head.
I took him by the hand and led him into the bathroom. While he sat on the step-stool I started some bath water. I went to the one room in the house that was not visited often. I walked over to the dresser and pulled clean clothing out. I think these will fit. The two boys are about the same size.
Before leaving the room she walked towards the nightstand and picked up the framed photo. It was her son Tod. Tod had died two years ago from a fever. She hugged the photo to her heart and then rested it back on the stand.
She closed the door softly behind her and went back to the bathroom. She got out clean towels and laid the clothes beside him. He looked at me and I took my cue to leave him to bathe.
That was the first day of the rest of our lives. Neither of us ever looked back. Today I am sitting in this grand auditorium. I am watching my son graduate. He is going to be a doctor.
- Fleeting. (lusaorganics.typepad.com)
- A Kiss on the Cheek can be Quite Continental by Amy Andrews (loveisthebestmedicine.wordpress.com)
- Coming clean (parentingwithunderstanding.com)
- Hand full (swatizutshi.wordpress.com)
- 23 Sycamore Street (thethinkingchimp.wordpress.com)