“This is the news at 10. Last night, in down town Compton another example of the gang warfare that plagues the city took place,” I pause, whilst feeding Grace, and look at the screen. “The “drive by” attack took place outside a convenience mart killed five members of the infamous gang “the crips” and was presumably carried out by their rivals, the equally notorious bloods. Additionally an innocent bystander named Larry Weinstein was tragically caught in the cross-fire…” It is more than the heart could take- this place. I look back to my eight month year old daughter and wander how I can inflict this on her. I have, so far, got away with Brianna, now 14, but she has started to stay out, skip class and maybe more. What would it be- crack, gang warfare or prostitution? I trust my daughter but it is only a matter of time. “…Police say the situation in Southern Los Angeles is severe but under control, the rumours of an attack of massive proportion are unfounded and we continue to do the best we can to control the danger of gang warfare.” I walk into the hall way of our run-down, main town apartment, I can hear music blaring from Brianna’s room, and continue to my little room, where the babies crib is. I put Grace to sleep and I tell Brianna to turn down the music, she smiles and complies. That’s my girl. I say a prayer and then lye on my bed.
I am so worried, but still tired enough to fall asleep easily.
I am dreaming that the streets are on fire and people are screaming. A voice tells me to leave, it says “you are good and true, this city will burn, along with others, for their wickedness, but you are pure and shall receive mercy, leave this walking hell, it will stain the love of the true and scold their spawn”
I awake to the baby screaming. What had I been dreaming? The baby needs changing. I take her into the other room, I can tell Brianna was asleep when I pass her door, I lay Grace on the living room table and change her. Was it something to do with a fire? Why can I smell burning? I check the kitchen and all the rooms. Nothing. Still I can clearly smell it. Is it getting stronger? I check outside- Nothing. We go back to bed.
I am dreaming. This time my children are amongst the flames and burn grotesquely “We will lead the way” the voice says, “today we will come to you and save you from the danger that will befall you and the ones you love. We know you will trust us because you have empathy and you are good.” I watch in horror as the world around me dies.
It is daylight. From my half slumber I can hear Brianna telling me she is not going to school today. I am too asleep to answer. I get up and see the baby is awake and wriggling, she looks out at me, pensively.
I start my computer and I check my web site, which is the sole office of my small clothing business that gives us all the little money we have. I am thinking of the gangs and all the hate in this place, this world. It is sick. Too sick to be contained, how does one thwart it? No emails. No interest. Nothing. I need some sales. I spend the morning working and filing, feeding and changing.
A bang at the door. Someone is shouting and Brianna runs into the room. Four men follow her in and one has a gun. He shouts for me to give him money, says my daughter owes him big and if he does not get his money, he will take them both. I tell him I have nothing and I shield my daughters. “All I want is for them to be ok, I would give them to you if I thought they would be ok,” Why did I say that? I am hysterical. “ I can give you nothing but the promise that I love my daughter and I will give you all you need, just not now” These words fall on deaf and evil ears and the thugs begin to close in.
Another bang at the door two policemen run into the room. The thugs are making towards the door and shouting obscenities. They escape. I hold my girls and mutter a prayer of thanks.
I am still shocked and scared. I look into the face of one of our saviours, and feel calmer because of it. One is male and one female. Both are extraordinarily attractive and fair- “I- I- I…”
“We know. Come.” How do I know that voice? Something about a dream? I follow them and my daughters follow me. We are somewhere else. We must have got in a car, but I cannot remember the journey. “Follow us, Charlotte.” Says the voice behind the warming smile. I follow.
All of a sudden we are alone again, it is dark outside and we are in a hotel room. My girls are sleeping.
I know a city is gone.
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