The sickening smell of sweat, unwashed bodies and sewage drifted to Jenny’s nostrils. She sighed and stood up slowly from where she had reclined against a bed of old, patched coats, and sweaters. Her enlarged stomach made it twice as hard.
Jenny looked around her. Old men sat hunched against the wall. Women were bent over their fires, stirring their grub with sticks. Children ran around, chasing each other in between the fires. Their ragged clothes had been patched many times.
Her heart began to feel as heavy as she had become in the last eight months. The child inside of her would grow up to live just like those children running around. A sob caught in her throat and she began to cry . . . and cry . . . and cry . . .
The squeals of a new-born baby pierced the morning air. Jenny opened her eyes and looked down at the small bundle one of the older women had placed in her arms. The child’s small fists waved, and he announced the hunger in his stomach by howling.
At first Jenny just stared down at her new son. Then her motherly senses kicked in, and she held him to her breast. She stroked the soft hair that seemed like a crown to the beautiful baby. His pink lips sucked noisily. Jenny smiled in awe. He was her son.
Just then the moment was interrupted by two small children running through the room. Their clothes were thread-bare and they were bare-footed, although it was mid-November. Tears began to flood Jenny’s eyes as she pictured her new son among them. She began to cry . . . and cry . . . and cry . . .
Young Matthew wiped his nose on his sleeve. Bending down, he rested his hands on his knees. Then he whispered his plan to his friends.
Jenny watched from a distance.
She watched as her young son told the other boys what to do.
She watched as they each picked up a small stone.
She watched as Matthew licked his lips and stared at the small bird up in the tree.
She watched as he threw the stone, hitting the bird.
She watched as the other children, driven by Matthew’s signal, stoned the poor robin to death. The boys laughed and kicked the bird into the bushes; their fun done.
Jenny felt the tears coming. She held her hand up to stifle the sob that had escaped her throat, as she watched the bird give one more small flutter of its wings, and then fade away and die. Her son. The leader of the awful plan. She began to cry . . . and cry . . . and cry . . .
Something shiny flashed in the light of the street lamp. The sound of running footsteps echoed through the streets. Soon it was joined by wailing sirens. Screeching tires and yelling voices filled the alleys. Lights flicked on inside the apartments as people woke up to see what the excitement was about.
Jenny hurried down the street towards the police cars. She didn’t know who it was that they were after, but something told her it wasn’t good news.
A large crowd had gathered and Jenny wasn’t able to make her way up close. When the crowd finally began to disperse, she was able to get closer.
What she saw made her gasp. There lay her son, Matthew, surrounded by policeman. Blood oozed from a cut on his forehead and his cheeks were stained with dirt. The gun he had apparently stolen lay two feet away. A policeman was locking handcuffs on the teenager who lay face-down in the street. By now everyone had left except for Jenny.
Matthew muttered, and tried to jerk away when the officer pulled him to his feet.
Jenny fell to her knees as they led her son to the waiting police car. Her tears fell on the spot where her son’s blood had stained the asphalt. She covered her face with her hands and began to cry . . . and cry . . . and cry . . .
What have we done?
How many ‘Jennys’ are shedding tears right now?
What are we doing to help?
Do we even care?