Collateral Damage

sharon-mccutcheon-AuPRHJe8Mhs-unsplash

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash

 

“They’re collateral damage,” he said, and gestured toward the flash of news images across the screen. “It’s not anything personal against them.”

He shrugged as if his words explained all of what happened. Of what continues to take place.

“They never should’ve put themselves in this situation,” he added, perhaps because he’d perceived my incredulous stare as an invitation to explain further, or perhaps because someplace, somehow, he felt ashamed. That is, if he was capable of shame, which as the evening dragged on I found myself increasingly doubtful of.

I glanced at Brenda, whose dinner plate seems to have become her world. Her absconding only made me angrier, but the boulder in my throat allowed no sound. I shook my head.

“Well, they could’ve stayed where they were,” he retrieved a comb out of his pocket and proceeded to slick back his salt-and-pepper hair, and the outrageously incongruous act against the reality of utter misery, somehow released my breath.

“They are children!” I choked on the word, but the rest tumbled out behind it as if afraid to become lodged again. “They could not make the decision to stay. They had no choice where to be born. Or who they were born to, or whether or not to put themselves in any situations.”

He continued to groom himself with the comb and I fought the urge to grab his arms and toss away the thing, one of the many things, the children were denied.

“Their parents should’ve taken better care of them,” he added blandly.

I took in a deep breath. “Even if that was true, which it is not in the vast majority of the cases, how does that make it acceptable for others to deliberately traumatize these children further?”

He raised an eyebrow in disdain to signal that my upset was the overreaction. “If their parents stayed in their own countries,” he stated sedately, “instead of coming here, the children wouldn’t get locked up. It’s simple, really. If a person doesn’t want their kids to suffer, they should not do certain things.”

“So now we’re talking like the mafia? Threatening people with harm to their kids?”

“Calm down,” he drawled. “Now that people know their kids wouldn’t have it easy here, perhaps they’d think before they decide to make their kids into collateral damage. If they did as they were told and stayed wherever it was they belonged, none of this would have to happen.”

I inhaled and glared at his wife, the colleague whose silence at the face of cruelty made her increasingly less of a friend. Her eyes scanned the wall someplace not quite behind my head.

“So you approve of terrorizing children,” I stated, my fingers groping for my purse. Her birthday dinner or not. I was done. “This is exactly what mafia does.”

He actually cackled. “They’re the mafioso. It’s their fault if their kids are cold and wet and getting hurt. What did they expect, crumpets and tea?”

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS writing challenge: co-

 

Determined

Delicate DvoraFreedman

Photo: Dvora Freedman

 

Rise above

Hardship’s fray

In gentle curls

Of delicate

Pink,

And an underbelly

Of powerful

Orange

Smelted from the

Brink.

 

 

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Orange and Pink

 

 

The Fence

Photo: © Russell Gayer

 

“We don’t go There,” Mama always warned. “Ever.”

“There” was beyond the fence. Where the embankment locked in perpetual shadows and where the yellow cliffs rose shining in the sun and where the scary things lived and mortal danger was certain to find you.

As a child I never questioned the relative flimsiness of the wire fence and how it possibly prevented such pervasive awfulness from invading the compound.

It wasn’t until much later that it occurred to me to wonder whether both the fence and its electric bite were there to keep us in.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

How Will I Know?

alone black and white blur child

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

 

How will I know

The taste of freedom

If I am locked

Inside a cage?

How will I find

A true horizon

When I am of

Tender age?

Where will my parents be

Tomorrow?

Will army men

Lock them away?

How will I know

If I will get to see them

Once again

One day?

 

 

For Sam’s Poetry Challenge

 

May We Be the Adults Kids Need

The link below is to an article by Dawn Haney (thank you, Jenny, for sending it to me). It is very well done and immensely relevant.

Take a moment to read it, and perhaps a few more to allow your realities and reactions to have the room they require and deserve. If you are so inclined, leave a comment below and share your thoughts about the article, of the things you’ve found to be helpful, and the realities of balancing activism with self-care.

In these times of rampant overwhelm and maddening injustice — especially if you carry your own wounds and trauma history — may you find the support you need, the awareness you seek, and the way to provide aid to the vulnerable in the pace and manner you can manage.

And may we all, indeed, be the adults kids need.

May We Be the Adults Kids Need: Healing practices to avoid burnout

From the article. Photo by Brooke Anderson.

 

Do Not Be Reticent

child-us-mexico-border Photo - AP Gregory Bull

Photo: AP / Gregory Bull

 

Do not be reticent

About the truth.

When stolen children

Cry

Deprived of trust

Of hope

Of warmth,

Those of us who have

A voice

Must use it,

For the helpless

Cannot.

 

Merriam-Webster’s word for July 27, 2018:

Reticent

This post continues the blogging challenge in which Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, serves as inspiration a-la the “Daily Prompt.”

Want to join me? Feel free to link to this post on your blog, and/or post a link to your blogpost in the comment section below so others can enjoy it, too. Poetry, photography, short stories, anecdotes: Go for it!

For more visibility, tag your post with #WordOfDayNY, so your post can be searchable.

“Follow” me if you want to receive future prompts, or just pop in when you’re looking for inspiration. Here’s to the fun of writing and our ever-evolving blogging community!

 

 

Mercurial

 

AIA_md

 

“I met that man before I got here,” James had whispered while they were getting shackled for the long bus ride to the mines. The three of them were part of a shipment of fifteen long-faced youths in assorted shirts and pants. Their jail considered itself cutting-edge in social reformation. Same reason wardens used the euphemism “bunkmates” instead of “cellmates”: sounded better. Wearing donated clothes that inmates washed themselves was considered rehabilitative. A life-skill of boxers and holey socks hung on bunk-rungs to dry.

“What man?” Bobby had asked.

“Someone,” James had hissed. James always knew “someone.” Rarely closely—he had a knack for making people angry. As soon as Marcus learned the word “mercurial,” he knew exactly whom it fit. James had been raised by a gang, and if that group was anything like the bunch he himself had run with, in which individuals turned against each other to gain favor with the marshals, Marcus doubted gang life taught good friendships.

(Excerpt from “Apples in Applath”)

 

Merriam-Webster’s word for July 15, 2018:

Mercurial

This post continues the blogging challenge in which Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, serves as inspiration a-la the “Daily Prompt.”

Want to join me? Feel free to link to this post on your blog, and/or post a link to your blogpost in the comment section below so others can enjoy it, too. Poetry, photography, short stories, anecdotes: Go for it!

For more visibility, tag your post with #WordOfDayNY, so your post can be searchable.

“Follow” me if you want to receive future prompts, or just pop in when you’re looking for inspiration. Here’s to the fun of writing and our ever-evolving blogging community!

 

 

Obviated Healing

adult aged baby care

Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

 

If I could just forestall the suffering

Of little ones

Locked by a heartless bind

And prevented even from the comfort

Of their parents’ loving arms.

If I could somehow stave off

Their sorrow

And their helpless rage

For what should never have been made

Reality

At their tender age.

If only we all raised our voices

And demanded cruelty stop,

Maybe those who caused the pain

And obviate the healing

Will make way

For better others

Who would lead not by agony

But hope.

 

 

Merriam-Webster’s word for July 14, 2018:

Obviate

This post continues the blogging challenge in which Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, serves as inspiration a-la the “Daily Prompt.”

Want to join me? Feel free to link to this post on your blog, and/or post a link to your blogpost in the comment section below so others can enjoy it, too. Poetry, photography, short stories, anecdotes: Go for it!

For more visibility, tag your post with #WordOfDayNY, so your post can be searchable.

“Follow” me if you want to receive future prompts, or just pop in when you’re looking for inspiration. Here’s to the fun of writing and our ever-evolving blogging community!

 

Kind of Famous

Rose DvoraFreedman

Photo: Dvora Freedman

 

“I’ll be famous,” she said, twirling and eyeing her reflection in the mirror. She was wearing a particularly twirl-worthy skirt and a shiny pair of sandals.

“Yep, famous,” she repeated with finality. She spun a few more times then stopped mid-turn to face me. “Do you know what famous means?”

I raised an eyebrow in half-query, half-invitation. Children’s explanations are immensely more informing than anything I might attempt to guess at.

“It means everybody knows you and everybody likes you a lot.”

“It does?” I lent a slight undulation to my voice in what I hoped was just a smidge of challenge for the second part.

She’s a perceptive little one. She caught it. Paused. Frowned. Pursed her lips and pursed them again in front of the mirror to inspect the effect. “Well, everybody knows famous people,” she countered and puckered her lips a few more times to make a point. “But … maybe not everybody likes them?”

I smiled and raised my eyebrow again.

She straightened and crossed the room to lean into me. “Because some famous people can be bad?”

I wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “Some. Sometimes people get famous but not for very good things.”

She nodded into my side. “Like Hitler and … you know?”

“Yes. Hitler … and some other people … are known for doing very very bad things.”

“I don’t want to be that kind of famous.”

I gave her a squeeze. “I understand. I wouldn’t worry … You are nothing like that … You have a beautiful, loving, caring heart. It’s not a bad thing to want to be famous. Most famous people aren’t bad. Most people in general aren’t bad. Famous and not famous ones.”

She leaned into me a moment longer. She knows hardship. Young as she is, the pain of cruel actions isn’t abstract to her.

I took a deep breath to remind her she was safe. She followed. Took another. Shook the pensive worry off and looked down into her magnificently twirl-worthy skirt.

“Well,” she stood and made a quick half-turn, watching the edges of the fabric lift and roil and dance and fly. “I’ll be the good kind of famous.” She walked back to the full-length mirror to reinspect her reflection. “The beautiful heart kind …”

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

The Blanket

diaryofaquilter

photo: diaryofaquilter.com

 

He took it with him everywhere: School, the doctor’s office, the park, the car, the dinner table. He carried it in hand, in the backpack, over his shoulder. It was to him a cape, a comfort, a memory of tucking in, a constancy.

It’s always been there. He couldn’t remember a time before.

Well-worn, oft-washed, much-handled.

His blanket.

Never out of sight.

He’d sit before the washing machine and watch it spinning, floppy, in a foamy sea. Later he’d guard the dryer as the blanket tumbled, already impatient to come back warm and scented into his arms.

He’d place it at the ready on the bathroom stepstool to guard him as he washed. A sentinel over his pajamas.

It waited right under the chair at mealtime, in temporary exile from his lap after his argument that the blanket could make an excellent napkin had failed.

Even at school, where he wasn’t allowed to hold it, he’d leave a small blanket-ear peeking out of his cubby; to remind him it was there, with him, waiting for the end of the school-day.

It was a coat of heart, a shroud of courage, a cover against storms of any kind.

It was almost part of him. His blanket.

Then the fire came. He was carried half-in-sleep and heavy-headed, by a man whose giant shadow painted wall-monsters against the orange flicker and the swirling smoke.

There was more flicker outside: blue and red and white and blinding. Shouts and calls and creaks and cries and movement. Yellow coats, red truck, bright door, funny mask.

And no blanket.

It was gone. To Blanket Heaven.

A spark in the sky now. A spot of cloud. A star.

Lost along with Curious George and Teddy Ben and his dinosaur car.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post