All of Them

A short story about the meetings of a boy and a girl he meets in the playground.

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1. All of Them

I go out to the playground a lot. Whenever Ma and Pa are fighting. I s’pose that means Ma and Pa fight a lot. I go out to the playground no matter what time it is. Whether it’s in the morning or at night, even really, really late when there aren’t many cars on the street anymore ‘cept people on the sidewalk passed out on the drink – Ma says the drink kills you. Ma and Pa never really notice when I go out. They have the others to look after. Mary, Jim, Hollie, Tim, Gee, Cecil and little Annalisa too. All of them.  

I meet the girl with the big belly a lot. I call her the extraordinary-fat-girl. But she’s not really fat, just her belly. She’s always sitting on the swing that the kids like to spray their names no matter what time it is. Whether it’s in the morning or at night, even really, really late when everyone’s inside ‘cept the hobos sitting against the wall asking for a smoke – Ma says the smoke kills you. Every time she notices me there. I watch her and she watches me. Until I decide that if I stay out any longer in the cold my fingers will pop off. All of them.

I talk with the girl with the baby a lot. She’s not fat anymore. She said that the baby was inside of her but I don’t really understand it. We sit out talking for a long time no matter what time it is. Whether it’s in the morning or at night, even really, really late when even all the dogs have all gone to sleep ‘cept the dealers out on the street with their ‘stuff’ in their pockets – Ma says the ‘stuff’ kills you. She’s only a couple years older than me; I think I might be ten. I think she’s too young to have a baby. But she’s happy and I bring ten firecrackers for the baby’s a-week-old-day to crack. All of them.  

I comfort the crying girl a lot. She’s not fat anymore. Her baby has been taken away. She’s always crying no matter what time it is. Whether it’s in the morning or at night, even really, really late when all the burglars have already burgled and gone ‘cept the bad women looking for some sex – Ma says sex with them kills you. She says the bad men took her baby away. And left her with only a little bit of money for it. But her father has used the coins to buy him some more drink. All of them.  

I don’t see the girl a lot. I think she might be avoiding me. But then I found her on the streets doing all the things that kill you. She always walking the street no matter what time it is. Whether it’s in the morning or at night, even really, really late when everybody’s asleep in their nice beds ‘cept for her having the street hurt her – Ma says the street kills you. She walks and wobbles, drinking the drink and smoking the smoke. She buys the ‘stuff’ from the dealers and pays them with her body. And the street kills her and hers and hims alike. All of them.

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