Seven Seconds of Childhood


How many hours in your short life have you sat there, young lady? When you were really young, you’d climb on the giraffe, your favorite. He always seemed so big. You could never reach his head. Now you hate the giraffe. His face means that you’ll be there for hours again across from the Fluff’N’Fold waiting for your mom.

Every Saturday, she brings you here. You can either sit inside and watch the machines whirl around, or you can go to the church across the street where she can see you–always where she can see you–and play. The merry-go-round isn’t much fun when there’s no one to push you, is it?

What is she doing in there? She tells you that you have to come here so that you can have clean clothes to play in. You don’t care about clean clothes. Why do moms always care about clean clothes? They’re just going to get dirty again anyway.

This is your last time here. After today, you won’t have to see that giraffe again. You won’t have to wear clean clothes.

In about forty-two seconds, there will be a drive-by shooting at the Fluff’N’Fold. The idiots doing the shooting will aim for a rival who they think shot down one of their own, except they won’t hit him. They’ll hit your mom and that two-year old in the cart instead. They will both be gone forever. The intended target will track the shooters down and revenge your mom, but it won’t matter to you.

You will live in the County Department of Children and Family Services home until you are sixteen. There won’t be a merry-go-round. You won’t be bored again. You won’t be alone again. You will long for these quiet mornings at the Fluff’N’Fold when you had time to yourself, because from now on, you won’t have much of that.

Your life will be hard, but you will survive. You will become very strong. You won’t always do the right thing, but you will try, especially when you have kids of your own. There are only seven seconds left in your childhood. Good luck.

Written for the Weekly Writing Challenge.