48: Small child
The small child walking by the dirt road. I can’t tell whether the child is a girl or a boy, but by the child’s closely cropped hair and bare back, I suppose the child is a boy. As the car slows to a crawl, I get a better look at the child. Soot colours his cheeks a smoky black, and the child is holding what seems to be a black stone in his hand. He turns it round and round in his palm, the fingers twisting, turning, writhing so skilfully…his fingernails are unnaturally yellow, the cuticles heavily damaged, the half-moons barely visible. His eyes are downcast, but as you pass by, you accidentally catch yourself looking into his eyes, which are a vacant, otherworldly onyx.
The small child sitting in the gutter. Her dishevelled straw-coloured hair might not have touched a brush in days. She may have never seen a brush in her life, to be honest. She keeps her hands closed in tight fists in her lap. A permanent frown cut into her face, you wonder how you can make the child happy, if ever. She doesn’t need to know what love is, not the kind you’re pursuing. Does she have parents? Perhaps that is the love she is craving. Perhaps it’s the need to survive that has her…so miserable. You don’t know. You drive on in the car because you can’t stop to help. There’s nothing you can do. Wilfully ignorant.
The small child sleeping on the park bench. Her threadbare clothes are torn and barely cover her. She must be frightfully cold, and I pull some blankets that I’ve brought for her over, but she doesn’t seem to notice the change in temperature yet. Her eyes are closed, small breaths escaping her mouth. Where are her parents? She might not even have a home, and here she is, the most peaceful child I’ve seen.