Chattanoogan Children

I wrote this short post in November of 2009, when I worked as a Family Advocate for Habitat for Humanity in Chattanooga, TN. 

I felt a tug on the bottom half of my jeans. Staring up at me was a small black child with large eyes. He reached his arms up towards my face, flexing his fingers in and out of his palms as if to motion in some naturally preternatural language that he wanted to be held. I bent down  to pick him up. As soon as he was within reach, he wrapped his arms around my neck and buried his face into the space between my chin and my collar bone.

His mother turned her head, red hair twisting against her fair skin, and in an especially elongated southern drawl she said “Why he never does that to nobody.” I handed him to his mother and we walked outside to the front porch of the house. I stepped down to the driveway and turned back to wish them a happy thanksgiving, but as I turned, in the distance, what I like to think was a fire cracker or a shotty car engine or some piece of metal hitting some piece of metal rang out and echoed. The door was closed before I could say anything.

I was angry and, as I drove home, I thought about what terror it would be to have a child of my own.

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