She stood defiant
in the road. Her face streaked with dirt, her green bikini dull with the fine layer of dust that coated her entire body. She raised her tiny fist at the gleaming blue pickup like a wee warrior princess
, she yelled leaning her upper body forward protectively over a tattered blue doll carriage.
The truck honked with irritation at the inconvenient road block. "AAHHHHHHH!" The grubby fist shook some more towards the driver, but the child did not budge.
Get out of the way!, the man called angrily.
She did not understand or she chose not to listen. Either way, the woman was up in a flash and out the door to protect the child. Instinct.
That kid belong to you? The question was hurled at her followed by an angry glare.
Nope, but obviously you need someone to move her out of your path. Only a smile for the child. Hey honey, what's your name? I'm Ronnie She stuck her hand out in introduction.
"AAHHHHHHH!" The girl pulled the carriage away and stepped in front, shaking her fist at the woman.
Looks like Down Syndrome to me. Ain't right for her to be wandering around like that. You know her?
Nope, but I've got her now. No need for you to fret yourself any longer. She said it in such a manner as to indicate that he had indeed been worried over the child's welfare all along.
The woman brought her to the side of the road, while the child grunted at her trying to keep her doll safe from the stranger. She looked at the child, taking in the characteristic flat face and drooping eyes of a Down's child. She looked three years old, maybe four. Her tongue peeked out between dusty lips while the girl studied the woman back.
What's your name?
Where's your mom? I'd love to meet her. Can you show me where she is?
She pointed her fist, first to the left and then to the right, keeping a tight hold with the other onto her carriage.
Can I walk with you a ways then? It's such a beautiful day for a stroll. Let's promenade together shall we?
The little girl headed off down the middle of the road, pushing her stroller, while the woman followed. Disapproving stares were directed at the pair as they passed. They meandered this way and that with no apparent direction as the woman chattered on, occasionally asking about the girl's mother. The girl only showed signs of being upset when the woman picked her up out of the road whenever a car came by. More so only because the stranger was getting too close to her doll.
After a time, the girl pushed her doll into one of the driveways. Two dogs were tied out in the 95 degree sun. There were various toys strewn about. The trailer looked like it had seen better days. The sounds of a cheesy talk show blared loudly.
Is this where you live? Is your mom here?
She took her baby out of the stroller and sat down on the concrete to play with her, ignoring the woman.
Is your mom here?The woman asked loudly, projecting her voice to the open door.
"Hmmmm? What was that?" An older woman stepped out. Disheveled hair, cigarette hanging out of the right side of her mouth, clothes wrinkled.
Is this your daughter? She seems to have picked your place. I've been walking with her the past half hour trying to find her home.
"Oh, was she in the road? Now Katherine what have I told you about that. You need to stay here, bad girl."
The girl got up and held onto her mother while the woman berated her for leaving. The she ran over to a chair with her baby and turned away from both women.
"She knows not to go anywhere, it's been hard keeping her close here. She's used to running free on the ten acres we used to have. Even the dogs aren't used to the leashes. Oh well, she'll be fine. Katherine, stay here. Don't go anywhere."
With that the mother brought the two dogs out of the sun into the trailer, leaving the girl outside.
The woman headed back etching the name of Katherine into her thoughts and also where she lived in case she needed to return her again. On the way back others stonily asked her where her daughter was. When she explained it wasn't her daughter, their faces softened and they thanked her for bringing the girl home."She's been playing in the road by herself for three days. A child like that shouldn't be left alone." The woman didn't say anything. These people had left the child alone as well. To her it was just another example of the "Not my problem" syndrome. Sometimes the apathy she saw made her want to curl up and cry.