Sometimes life is not funny…when a little girl drowns across the street from my home.
After the Rains
It’s been raining so much that only the geese and the ducks were playing on the soccer fields that I overlook from my balcony. It’s been raining so much that the reeds and rushes in front of my home was a pond of floating detritus. It’s been raining so much that the water pooled in the dug-out foundation of the construction site across the street.
And today, on a glorious sunny breezy last day of May, a little girl drowned in one of those pools.
The news trucks are in the street in front of me; other than these vans with their satellite antennas, the neighborhood looks much the same. The smaller birds are swirling in the air currents sweeping down from the foothills. The red-winged blackbirds are settling down in the now-revived cattail rushes. The after-work dog-walkers are briskly going about their business. Earnest young soccer players reclaim their fields, and the distinctive metal thwink of bat on ball rings out from the softball diamonds to my right. Everything seems normal on this ordinary spring evening, except…someone is placing flowers and ribbons on the fence around the construction site.
What could have happened that this little girl entered the secured, fenced, and locked site? What chain of events led to the horrific end of this young life? The grade-school lacrosse players practice in fields on my left, in full view the tragedy still unfolding. The sounds of league softball rise above the trees on the other side. People in cars, on bicycles, and with baby strollers slow to view the the scene. The news trucks seem to be doing their jobs.
Or perhaps others living in the condominiums where I just moved already knew. Perhaps the little girl even lived here. A woman in a big SUV is stopping to tie a pink and silver whirligig on a stick next to the flowers. It spins crazily in the wind.
The shadows are lengthening. The wind has turned sharply cooler. Headlights shine on the cars slowing down for the flowery shrine. The photojournalists linger. I cannot stir myself, though, to leave my perch and go to see what they are seeing, to look past the quiet birds in the rushes, to look across the street, to look into the pools of water below.
Soon, if not already, the inquiries will begin, and so too the recriminations and the blame. How did she manage to get into the site? Why was such a little girl alone? And who found her body?
Me, I wonder (someone is now adding balloons to the fence), I wonder what attracted her there. I wonder if she called for help. I wonder if a child can even conceive that she is dying.
And I wonder what her last thoughts might have been as she lost sight of the late spring sun…the sun that has followed the rains and turned ball fields and bird rushes into playgrounds…the sun that has dried out nearly everything in my view—but for a couple of pools of water in the bottom of the construction site across the street from where I live.
AWD May 31, 2011