The second October

This will be the second October since the rainy day. The day the skies opened, and the smell of wet leaves almost dulled the acrid stench of smoke that I couldn’t actually smell, due to the distance. But the vision of it permeated my brain.

She used to get them out of the cars, all the children. She was the carpool lady, but she made it look much hipper than a lunchlady. Young and stylish, with heeled boots and a wide, mischievous smile. No one would ever have known. That she was scared, and filing papers, and making plans. That she had left. That he didn’t want her to.

Her daughters are preschool carbon copies of each other, the same genetic code detailing their wide set eyes, steady gaze, and straight blond hair. I remember seeing her walk across the school parking lot, holding each one of them by the hands. They flanked her, perfectly symmetrical. I’m unable to differentiate them, and mull over how the other children say their name as if it’s one. They run the syllables all together, one womb, two people, one name. Their sturdy shoulders upheld their backpacks as they trudged.

But she held their hands so delicately, as if they were glass.

I didn’t know her well, just saw her in the carpool line. But now, when October looms, I have a visceral reaction to the darkness that followed the rain. The soot that smeared everything. How it colored the lens I view the world through, after the smoke cleared and they began to pull the bodies from their house.

She was not alive when he started the fire, they say. He made sure he couldn’t get out, either, before he set the blaze. I wonder if he meant for the dog to die, or if that was an accident. I catch myself thinking it seems unnecessarily cruel, then realize how it pales in comparison. He couldn’t leave them ANYTHING, I think, then I realize he left them alive. And that is something.

I see the girls every now and again, navigating the school driveway alone, or with their aunty. Sometimes I see them laughing, and playing. Then my daughter will say something like, “Siobhan* got a haircut, but her mommy will never see it, because her mommy is dead.”

And it hits me in the gut, all that they have lost before they were conscious it could be taken. I think of how the soot will cloud their eyes for years to come, no matter how their family tries to cushion the blow when they eventually learn the whole tangled and sickening truth.

Sometimes I go to Maggie’s site, Violence Unsilenced. I pretend I’ll find her story, and it will be different. She will have moved, changed her name. Cut the girls’ hair. He will have gone to therapy, begun dating again. They would have lived separately, but they would have lived.

It will never be her. And I pray that her daughters will live all the days of their lives safe and cherished by the men that they love. They deserve that, after having been so heinously betrayed by the first one.

House the next day.

House the next day.

*not her real name.

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Comments (12)

  1. wormdrink (kristy bockelman) Thursday - 17 / 09 / 2009 Reply
    so sad...such suffering...blessed be her children...
  2. Janine (@twincident) Thursday - 17 / 09 / 2009 Reply
    Wow. Why is it I don't remember this story? Had it been a family I my preschool I know it would have stuck with me. And the way you have written about it I think I'll remember it forever. It does make me want to scrape up all those kids who have lost parents, live in violent situations, or are neglected and give them all a huge hug and just make everything better. Since I can't do that, I have to believe that God, or some other higher power is looking out for them. I believe this because the alternative is I go nutz.
  3. maggie, dammit Thursday - 17 / 09 / 2009 Reply
    Wow. Wow. Thank you for this, babe. Thank you. .-= maggie, dammit´s last blog ..The day after my birthday =-.
  4. Jen Thursday - 17 / 09 / 2009 Reply
    Thank you for telling her story since she cannot, I am thankful to be able to pray for the hearts of these two small girls. .-= Jen´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday =-.
  5. rockrollmama Thursday - 17 / 09 / 2009 Reply
    Thank you guys. For being here, and helping me remember that moving forward is ok, but I need to remember, so I can help when I can.
  6. Jackie Thursday - 17 / 09 / 2009 Reply
    I'm speechless at the horror of it. Your writing is a beautiful tribute to her. I can just see that mischievous smile...
  7. Nicole Thursday - 17 / 09 / 2009 Reply
    Drawn here via Maggie. As one whose own mother -- and maybe even been one myself -- could have ended up as a similar statistic, this is pretty moving stuff. That poor woman. If only ... God love those girls. May they never really know how much they lost. .-= Nicole´s last blog ..Naming Names =-.
  8. Susan (Trout Towers) Thursday - 17 / 09 / 2009 Reply
    Oh Lindsay. I remember hearing this story and wishing there was a reset button. So wrong. .-= Susan (Trout Towers)´s last blog ..what I am doing when dawn is still rubbing its eyes and swearing softly =-.
  9. Brenda-SeriouslyMama Thursday - 17 / 09 / 2009 Reply
    I can't catch my breath after reading this... Lindsay, you gave that mama a voice today. Thank you. All my prayers will be sent to her girls tonight. .-= Brenda-SeriouslyMama´s last blog ..My not so secret affair. =-.
  10. rockrollmama Wednesday - 23 / 09 / 2009 Reply
    Thank you, my friends. For all that you do, and the love you gave her. All best.
  11. Sophia's Mom Wednesday - 23 / 09 / 2009 Reply
    So sad! I pray that they have happy healthy lives. But girls need their mothers. Hopefully their aunt is taking goof care of them. Thanks for stopping by my blog.
  12. stacey Monday - 26 / 10 / 2009 Reply
    wow = to your writing and the powerful emotions i am feeing after reading this.

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