She expected to hear a voice when she prayed.
Sometimes, the Voice sounded like her. Sometimes indistinguishable from hers. Sometimes it sounded like a man, maybe her dad. But when she sit still after making her requests known the Voice would speak. And never cryptic, even if she didn’t understand its meanings. “Go to the playground at King Elementary,” the Voice had said in prayer. Never why. Or what to look for. Only this instruction.
She crosses Jackson Street, then Hawk’s Down. She had never paid attention to Hawk’s Down Street. Who named it that? She imagined the hawk that must have landed down just in front of the person who named it. She made up a whole story about the naming of the street. Lost in that story, she missed her turn onto Douglass Avenue and had to circle back around. Then the growing since of excitement as she approached King Elementary. She was scared but didn’t know why. She was keenly aware that she was being led to something serious. The Voice returned. “STOP!” She wasn’t accustomed to a shout; it was usually a whisper. She was startled and so stopped abruptly, causing the driver in the car behind her to swerve and curse. She waved her left hand in an apology, but from the frown and expletives she could tell it was not accepted it. Oh, well, she thought.
She parked to collect herself. “Look at the swings,” the Voice said. She squinted, trying to take in the landscape. Oh, the swings were behind the slide. She got out of the car and started walking. The dread in her stomach got heavier. She squinted harder as she walked toward a little girl on the swings, clasping the mettle links and sobbing. Her heart quickened with her footstep.
“Oh, baby,” she said, as she scooped the child into her arms.
(January 5, 2013 installment posted late)