At age six, we are wiser than at any other age. We know things nobody could have told us and we keep them to ourselves. Before I forget everything forever, shall I tell you what it was like for me that day? You know what it did to my sisters. Mother had taken me shopping for clothes for school—just me!—and the prettiest pair of patent leather shoes. For half an hour, I’ve never owned anything I loved more. I remember them like yesterday. When I look at the toes, my big fat baby face is smiling back. We’re almost home from shopping. Mother is smiling at the wheel of the big new Pontiac. Here comes Daddy, walking down the hill from the house to meet us. He has never done this. Something is wrong. He looks me back into my seat. I’m scared. I want to be the girl at school with the prettiest shoes. Daddy opens the driver’s door and leads Mother up to the house. I wait behind in the big hot car and swing my feet and look at my shoes, but the sun has died and all I see are clouds. Mother screams from the parlor, not an angry scream. They send my sisters, not my brother, to fetch me. Something is wrong. We walk along the dirt lane to the house and they tell me. I don’t cry. My shoes are nothing but dust. I see his body on the loveseat under a towel, but I don’t cry. I haven’t cried since, at anything. They’ll make a fuss of me at school, I thought. I’ll be the girl whose brother was shot and killed. I couldn’t say any of this until you asked me. I’m not wise enough anymore to know why.

Copyright © August 05, 2007 David Hodges