For Norberta

 In Permanence of Wings, Today's Feed

Written by: Leni Sosa; Permanence of Wings

It’s September, and it is very cold. A wee thing shivers by a concrete corner. She is five and afraid, but she doesn’t look down; instead she watches and postures herself, determined to be brave. She has a coat on, but it is too light for this kind of September. The weather is hot where she comes from and her family did not prepare well for this country.

Her eyes are so dark it’s difficult to tell where the pupils start and end. Dark hair and olive-toned skin in a sea of pale, pale, pale. Blue, blonde, green, and red. There are others with brown hair and eyes, but they are indistinguishable from the blondes and blues and reds and greens – a kaleidoscope where different images ultimately look the same. There are more than appearances that separate her from the others. Teachers smile at the little faces turned up to the sun, pretending not to notice the odds and ends – the leftovers. There are children tied in bows, and then there are children that feed and dress themselves.

In the middle of the courtyard is a little child, perhaps the smallest child. She would be the runt of the lot if she belonged. Her thick, black, long, and disheveled hair cascades down her back and onto her face. Her eyes are a wet night and her skin is a child’s chocolate milk – more syrup than cream. She just stands and looks around, hands on her waist, taking up more space than she needs. Then she sees the wee thing in the corner.

Eyes lock; a Cheshire grin is met with a sad smile. The grin makes its way to the concrete corner. A small pocket knife is slowly pulled out of a coat pocket. The tiny hand holds it between their solar plexuses. Nose to nose, forehead to forehead, eyes widened for emphasis. “Shhhhhh.” The sad, wee thing gets pulled around the corner, away from the sweet children and selectively-blind teachers.

Some children spend their days in ribbons, sweet batter, and bedtime stories; other children live in the scraps, missing buttons, dirty and sweaty from navigating harsh, unpredictable terrain – deserts, swamps, ruins – each and every day.

The smallest of hands takes a hesitant right hand and presses a blade to the palm. It bleeds, but the child remains silent and holds back tears. She doesn’t understand yet. The grin returns and cuts the smallest of right hands – its own. One child confused and one so certain. Certainty moves quickly, though. Hand to hand, two little leftovers form a pact in blood. “We are blood sisters now,” said the girl looking as feral as a child possibly could on a playground during recess in a pale world.

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