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Women of the Street
Section I: The Poor Child
The couple was fresh, so when the child came, the women all expected some loud conversations. “It’s natural,” one would say, or “give it another year, it gets better.” Their encouragement never helped. The poor child lived amidst their dispute for half a year.
The women adored the little thing, even when it cried louder than his parents did each night. The couple rarely had conversations with the neighbors, but the women of the street were sensible. The parents never really acceded, but never objected to the idea of handing their children off to those they didn’t know well.
The mother hid beneath her wavy blonde hair, she never connected to the female neighbors. The father hid behind nothing, he had nothing to keep hidden. The women liked him, he never opposed to allowing them to care for his son. One would knock on the door, they would wait a moment for someone to turn the handle, and he would stand there. They never saw much of the mother; they believed she pretended to be spending time with the little boy.
Each day, another would babysit and allow their husbands to bond with him. They never expected their husbands would take so fondly to it. Each would discuss the greatness he could be as he got older. The women wanted to make their husbands happy. They would never be home later than their husbands, they would have dinner provided for them, and they made sure they always had something to appreciate them for. To keep a happy husband was their most challenging—yet expected—job.
The wives lifted their cheeks, the husbands had something to look forward to when they got home, and the couple argued. The women loved to look after the little boy and the husbands had plans for him. One of the women was supposed to pick him up one day, excitement running through the lungs of each and every neighbor.
She knocked, a quick answer, and the baby wasn’t there. In the misty cold, she stood. The father said they wouldn’t need their assistance with him that day. All excitement vanished. She wasted no time in telling the women of the street, and soon their husbands. The couple moved once they lost their baby.
Section II: The Nice Couple
Michael Boster watched the scenes fast forward in front of him. Mr. Boster held his breath, preventing any emotion to enter or exit. He saw men drag a man to the middle of the street. Six men clothed in white, faces covered, making no sign of release, stamp the man into the ground. Mr. Boster watched, favored neither party, and decided to leave.
Some considered it entertainment while others it was a horror story. The rest of the street agreed with such judgement. Mr. Boster never told his neighbors whether he agreed or disagreed. He was always in his house, the only northern family in the street, with his wife. Mrs. Boster would always lift her cheeks and approach anyone she knew with a gesture of kindness. She, even in the bitterness of colds, she somehow knew how to smile. She was a good wife, but never listened to the women of the streets’ advice in having a child.
Mr. Boster would remain still, hands in pockets, allowing his wife to speak for him. He’d stare off at the sun, the sun that never seemed to fade down there. He remembered the afternoons he loved in Maine, a life of bleakness. Mrs. Boster was the expressive one of the couple towards others. She would always decline the proposal of having a baby. It made her think of what might happen to the relationship she put so much time in. What if it happens to the kids? What if I can’t protect them? With a shake of the head, the thoughts stumbled around, finding it difficult to remain present.
The women of the street had weekly get-togethers, to discuss ways to improve the community. Nearly each time, they discussed nothing of the environment. They talked and talked, sighed and sighed, failed and failed. They always wanted to create change, and be the perfect image for the rest of the town.
The women had faith. The couple would soon have a child, a southern child, for their nice street. The women soon dispersed from their gossip and went home to care for their soon arriving husbands. They wanted to please their husbands, so their goal for another southern baby was critical.
She waited until her husband was out of the room, then she continued. There were reasons why she didn’t want children, reasons she felt no one understood. She didn’t want her children to feel as though pain was a relief.
She always remembered. They used to live in Maine; she was single most of her life, nothing bad, and nothing exceptionally good. She met Mr. Boster, her parents loved him, and she did too. His hair was a deep shade of black slicked up with a gel that reminded her of masculinity and protection. They married and moved south just like that. She never asked questions, never argued, yet it never seemed to be good enough for Mr. Boster.
As she sat reading her Bible on the couch with her first cup of coffee in the morning, he would whisper in her ear all the things she could fix about herself. She would attempt to drown out the voice of negativity with words of the Lord. Sometimes the voice in her mind wasn’t loud enough, so she’d have to mumble out spurts of it, willing herself to yell above the whisper internally.
She wondered what would happen when she opened the door. She contemplated the inevitable. She told him, he made no reaction. She stood waiting. He said nothing. She walked away. He got mad. She thought it was her fault, that she should’ve controlled herself and that she needed to change. He thought the same; he never wanted a child as she once did.
“Such a wonderful family! Mr. and Mrs. Boster, with their newborn girl,” the women of the street were overjoyed with the realization that their husbands would be proud of them. With the constant “oh, she’s so adorable,” rattling in her ears, Mrs. Boster heightened. She wasn’t the same. She wasn’t as gentle. Her eyes sulked, her hair thinned, her bones appeared. The women of the street made no effort to address her condition. They cared nothing of her. Little Ms. Boster was the center of the street.
One of the women saw Mrs. Boster at the flea market, little Ms. Boster was crying in her arms. The poor child was being ignored. Mrs. Boster was focused on the carrots before her, almost examining each crack of every carrot and the different shades of orange.
“Mrs. Boster!” Mrs. Boster wanted to evaporate, the way she felt like she already was. She made no recognition to the woman, besides a vague nod.
“Are you going to let one of us care for the child tomorrow? We would love to spend some time with Pearl!” They named the girl Pearl. Her ghostly complexion, with the hope of her being worth something when she grew caused for the proper naming.
“I’ll talk with my husband about it, now, excuse me, I really should get home and prepare dinner.” The woman had no time to say anything else.
Mrs. Boster took a few minutes to walk home. She was running late, she kept thinking, and walking slower. He wanted pot roast. Do I have the carrots? Oh, he won’t be happy if he comes home to a pot roast without carrots. She forgot about the child in her arms, the breaths she was taking, and the steps she took. She was home.
“The neighbors…do,” a stutter. “Do you think it’d be all right if they sometimes watched after Pearl?” She thought of the laundry. There are so many dirty clothes to be washed.
Mr. Boster sat on the black and cream striped chair that began to fade a decade ago. He took time before he spoke, his face taut with annoyance.
“You’re the mother; you need to start acting like one. Be useful,” he watched the black and white scenes on the box TV he decided to buy.
“Of course, I’m sorry,” she started organizing the clothes by whites, darks, and colors. Mr. Boster hated when his clothes were ruined in the wash.
The women of the street were concerned. It’d been a month since the southern baby was born, and they hadn’t yet bonded with her like they and their husbands did with the little boy. They tried to convince Mr. Boster to let them watch over little Pearl, if even on occasion, but they knew little of him. They needed to try another way.
There was a knock. Mrs. Boster held her breath, and clutched onto Pearl.
“Ah, good morning, Mrs. Boster! You look lovely,” Mrs. Boster wondered if that was the only lie she would say so bluntly.
The women of the street decided to send one woman, the one who saw Mrs. Boster at the flea market. She was the kindest, people tended to open up easily to her. Maybe because of the permanent smile or the way she easily composed herself in unusual circumstances.
“Thank you, is there something you needed? I really have much to do in the time before my husband gets off work.”
“No, but I wanted to stop by and see how you’re doing. When I saw you at the market, I worried. I wanted to check in on you, and let you know that if there’s anything you ever need, to let myself or the other women know. On this street, we women are there for one another.” She widened her warm brown eyes and set a frown to her thin, rosy lips in an attempt to appear compassionate and concerned.
Mrs. Boster was thinking about the tea on the stove. She wondered how much longer it took until it was finished, “Thank you, I’ll keep that in mind.”
“I’m truly happy for you, this baby will change your life completely, and for the better I believe.” Mrs. Boster was thinking the tea still, she thought she could hear it, she desperately wanted to.
“Would you like to come in and have a cup of tea? It should be just about done,” She knew she shouldn’t have said it, but a part of her wanted to be the northing girl she once was.
“Of course, I’d love that!”
They talked, but only the polite things. Mrs. Boster focused on the way the woman formed the words, she was fascinated how when the tongue and teeth joined, they would bring life to the brain, but not the heart.
“Your little Pearl, Mrs. Boster, she’s truly beautiful.” Mrs. Boster looked down at the thing wrapped in her arms; the woman had finally spoken a truth.
“She really is,” Mrs. Boster expressed genuine happiness. She had forgotten the feeling. Nothing more was exchanged. The tea was finished. Mrs. Boster had to clean the house. It was nearly afternoon.
Mrs. Boster followed the lady towards the door, “I suppose you could watch after Pearl every now and then in the mornings, that is, if you still wanted to. I’ll come by and pick her up before my husband comes home.” Again, Mrs. Boster regretted her decision. She hoped Mr. Boster wouldn’t be home earlier than his routine.
“Oh, I would love that!” The baby was exchanged. The women of the street found that once a parent, when emotional, gets familiar with a neighbor, it’s not difficult for them to entrust their only child into their care.
They introduced the two to one another. Their husbands were proud of them, like they were before. The little boy was three now, very lively, but always a good boy, their husbands made sure of that. The boy had grown long, shadow black hair that clashed nicely with his ice blue eyes. The women of the street and their husbands hoped that maybe now a new couple, one that was still fresh, would move in and give them another southern baby to add to the package. The families would sell the children to others for their pleasures. They would be able to improve their street and be the perfect image to the others in the community.