Her head hangs down. She seems unaware of her surroundings, unaware of the children laughing and playing a few yards away, unaware of the dappled sunlight that plays across her hair, unaware of the people moving through the park in their various orbits. If anyone notices her, they don't show it.
She's been crying. Look closely enough and you'll see the scant evidence - wet eyelashes, a hint of red around the outer edges, a slight pinking of her nose. She isn't loud, or showy, but she doesn't try to stop the tears, either. She knows no one will see. No one ever does. She is gifted at being unseen. Gifted and cursed.
She got a phone call from her brother yesterday. He told her he doesn't want his family associating with hers. He found out her partner is a sex offender, did an Internet background search, and that's that. It doesn't matter that it looks worse than it is, that her partner didn't do the things the charges would have one believe he did. Her brother doesn't care, isn't really interested in knowing what did happen. As far as her brother is concerned, her partner is a bad person and is not to be associated with - as if it's a stain that will spread.
So now she can choose - go to family events without her beloved or stay away and not see half her family ever again. Her children will not meet her cousins. She will be a stranger to her nieces and nephews. Her kids won't know their uncle or aunt. It's an untenable position to be in.
The crime for which her partner was convicted looks awful, on paper. In reality, a girl lied to him about her age when he was a young man, and he was foolish enough to believe without questioning. Her father saw him driving away one afternoon, didn't want to believe that his sweet baby girl would behave that way, wouldn't hear anything but that the young man was older and had kissed his little girl, touched her breast, didn't matter that she said she liked it. Daddy called the authorities, who knew this girl, knew this family, had been through this before with other young men.
The courts don't care if the alleged victim invited the attention. She's too young to know what she wants, the courts say. You can't show that she's had a pattern of this behavior - that would be blaming the victim for the crime, wouldn't it? You can't say she lied, and even though she's willing to say so, she's not allowed to speak because she's too young to understand what's happening. The girl will suffer no consequence for her serial behavior, will simply go on with her life careless of the lives she's shattered all around her.
So now the woman's partner is punished every day for a crime he served a prison sentence over - a sentence that should have ended it, should have been his punishment, except people won't look beyond what's on paper or their own prejudices.
The woman sighs, wipes her eyes. It doesn't matter. In the end, there's no choice, really - she won't abandon her partner, so she'll add one more name, one more family, to the list of people who want nothing to do with her. It hurts, but the hurt is less with every repetition.
She takes another deep breath, plasters a smile on her face, and calls to her children. She has taken some photos for her partner - he can't come to the park with her, the law won't allow it, so he has only seen their child swing, go down the slide, and ride the see-saw on a screen at home. He has seen swimming lessons and play dates through her lens. Sometimes she would like to just uncomplicatedly enjoy her children, but she can't bring herself to deny her partner this little bit of joy.
She thinks life can be awfully difficult, and that people can be cruel, but what can she do? Hide her tears, wear a false smile, and get on with it...
Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!
"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One
For old quotes, look here.
For old quotes, look here.