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Determined to Obey
Determined to Obey
He’s alone, absolutely alone…lost! He’s never been lost. He’s never wondered if he’ll ever see his family again. Kid is eight years old; he’s terrified for the first time in his life. His eyes look everywhere at once, but he can’t see her. She should be there—on the bench—waiting. He wasn’t gone very long, he thinks, but can’t be sure. How big is the park? Where is she? Where is his mama? His tongue darts out across his upper lip: Salt. Dust. Desperation. He cries out, sudden and fierce, “Mama!”
An old man turns to look at him, and every warning he’s ever been given about strangers—strange men especially—sings through his blood. Kid has been told how beautiful he is, warned he’s a temptation, and been given the talk about people who like to touch underwear parts. So when the old man takes a step toward him, Kid runs.
He runs, but has no idea where he wants to go. He just has to keep moving, searching, calling out—whatever it takes to find her. If he stops moving, he’ll fall down and start crying. His dad says there’s never been a problem solved by crying.
He thinks about going back to the skate ramp to see if the boys he met left, but he knows they did. He only came back because they were leaving. He can’t remember where his mom parked the car. What if it’s gone? He brushes the thought away—his mother would never leave him.
“Kid!” his mother yells. He knows it’s her without having to lay eyes on her. Relief slams into him so fast he isn’t ready. His knees buckle and land on the soft grass at the same time his butt hits his ankles, and he cries. He cries loud and hard until his throat burns and his stomach cramps.
His mother lands on her knees in front of him. He screams as his narrow arms are crushed within his mother’s grip—she’s never hurt him before. She gasps apologetically and rubs his arms. Her hands inspect him, checking and rechecking imagined wounds. She’s out of breath—she’s crying too.
“Oh, Kid…oh, God, thank God! I thought I’d lost you,” she says between sobs and messy kisses. Satisfied he isn’t hurt, she runs her fingers through his sweaty, blond hair, and then presses her nose to his scalp and inhales. She wipes tears from his crystal blue eyes and stares into them in the way only a mother can—like he’s the only thing that has ever mattered—like she’d die for him—like she’d kill.
Kid soaks in his mother’s love like a flower absorbs light, by turning toward it. He allows himself to cry within the cocoon of her embrace, because there are indeed some problems that can be solved by crying. He knows there will be consequences for running off, and yet it seems unimportant. His mother loves him, keeps him safe, and that’s all that matters.
“Don’t cry, baby,” she sings into his ear and rocks him.
***End of excerpt***
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