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Sitting on the sidewalk outside the supermarket was Desperation himself, an eight-year-old child with a pile of postcards in his hands. Sitting. Waiting.
Out of the supermarket comes Lucinda Morrison in her leather skirt and her chiffon blouse and her high heels and her rich-person groceries. She walks, one heel in front of the other, and she does not stop. She walks and she walks and she crosses the road and the car stops for her but she does not stop for it. She does not stop. She only walks. She walks up to her polished black car and puts her groceries in the trunk while Desperation inches up beside her, his postcards held out. She sees him through the side of her thick sunglasses but she does not stop. She opens her car door and steps inside and begins to close it. But then she sees Desperation. She stops, she opens her door, she gets out of the car. She lifts her sunglasses to look at him, to inspect him. She raises an eyebrow.
“Will you please buy a postcard, ma'am?”
His lips have moved and his whimpering request has been uttered, but Lucinda does not see his lips move or hear his whimper. Lucinda sees his big brown eyes pleading. She sees the purple bruise on the delicate skin around his right eye. She sees Desperation, she really sees him.
“Did someone hit you, kid?”
His arm drops, drawing the pile of postcards to his side.
“Kid, answer me. Did someone hurt you?”
His lips quiver. His eyes look left and right but his head does not turn. He nods slowly, silently.
He shakes his head.
“Do you have parents?”
“You're coming with me, kid.”
He stares at her, his eyes brewing with confusion and fear. He just stares.
“You heard me. Get in the car, we're getting you away from here.”
She swings open the back door and motions him to go inside. Tentatively, he does. She drives off, not turning back, never stopping.
The police officer at the station does nothing. Lucinda tries to tell him that she has found a victim of child trafficking, but Desperation will not speak about it.
“Until you can prove it, ma'am, there's nothing I can do for you.”
“I found a beaten up kid outside a grocery store with nothing but postcards. What else do you want? Tell them, kid. Tell them what's happening, for God's sake.”
His eyes are fixed downwards. He is fumbling with his fingers. He will not speak, but everything about him screams Desperation.
“You can leave now, ma'am. And take the kid with you.”
Lucinda swings open her front door and marches into her house as Desperation follows in her steps, her groceries dangling from his bony arms.
The grayscale pictures on the bright white walls jump out at him. The white carpet sharply contrasts with the black furniture. The black corners of the desks, of the couches, of the window – all of them seem to thrust themselves against the biting purity of the walls and the floor, to thrust themselves before the young boy's pleading, screaming, empty eyes.
Lucinda sinks into her black hole sofa chair, laying down her head and tossing her feet over the chair's arm.
“There's a bedroom down the hall, last door to the right. It's yours tonight. I'll drive you out to another station tomorrow. Maybe actually ask for help this time so you can get yourself out of this mess, yeah?”
He nods and Lucinda shuts her eyes. She shoos him away and buries her face into the sofa arm, letting her once-perfectly coiled ringlets fall haphazardly over her head.
Desperation walks down what seems to be a never ending hallway until he reaches the room assigned to him. Devoid of anything but a white bed covered in a black duvet, the room seems to swallow him into its emptiness. The final rays of the sun leak through the window across Desperation's face as he sits on the bed. The seconds, minutes, hours go by as the sun sets, drawing the last of its light from Desperation's face as it sinks beneath the horizon, leaving its subjects in desolate darkness.
Desperation lifts himself from the bed and inches his way down the hall. He finds Lucinda in the same position he had left her in, her limbs and curls sprawled across the armchair. The arm of the chair is still slightly damp from her tears. Desperation looks at her. He looks at her for a long time, looks at the small puddle her eyes have leaked, looks at her bony and delicate fingers hanging towards the floor. He winces.
He walks into her kitchen, which is just as black and just as white as the remainder of her house. He opens a drawer and takes out a large knife, observing it's blade, observing his own Desperate eyes in the reflection of the steel. He quickly looks away from his own urgent, piercing, screaming gaze.
He returns to his previous position, hovering over Lucinda's slumbering body. He slowly places the tip of the knife on her chest, pressing ever so slightly over where her heart would be. He grips the handle with both his hands and jams the knife through Lucinda's embroidered chiffon blouse, through the delicate bones of her ribcage, through the heart pumping her worn-out blood. Lucinda chokes on her breath; her eyes fly open; her jaw drops; her face assumes an expression of surprise and of grief and of fear and sadness and emptiness and departure, departure, departure.
The boy slips the knife into his pocket and gives Lucinda one final look before swinging open her black door. He steps into the black van waiting at the entrance. It drives off, never turning back, never stopping.
New City, New York
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