People were running in positions as though they sat in cars, following lanes marked with white lines and arrows. I did the same, jumping into the left-turn lane toward my home. The streets were narrow, lined with tall cement and brick buildings pink, yellow, white. The setting reminded me of Okinawa outside of Kadena Air Base’s main gate back in the 1980s.
Arriving home, a tall, old, cement building, I encountered friends. One needed to leave but his son’s baby sitter hadn’t arrived.
“I can take him,” I volunteered.
Ted, a Black friend, answered, “You sure? I don’t want to burden you.”
“Miles isn’t a burden.” Miles was the boy, a light-skinned Black child with a sweet, happy face, an oddly muscular body, and a head topped with soft curls. “We’ll have fun, won’t we, Miles?”
Miles agreed with a grin and words I didn’t understand, tottering over to show me something in his hand, which was empty.
“Okay, thanks.” Ted left.
Miles and I walked down the street to another building. People there seemed high or tipsy. Performers, I knew. Students. Singers, actors, musicians, artists.
Miles and I spent time chasing one another or playing hide and seek. People knew him more than they knew me. They started asking, where is his father? Why do you have him?
I explained that I was watching the boy for his father because his father had an appointment, but his mother was coming to pick Miles up.
“What was the father’s appointment?” I was asked. “Why isn’t he here?” They were disapproving, even though I’d already explained that the baby sitter had an emergency.
“He was counter-protesting a protest.”
Oh, that makes sense. That’s important, others agreed.
Miles disappeared from my watch. I panicked and searched for him. His father came in just as I found Miles. I said, “I was so worried that something had happened to him. I took my eyes off him for just a second and he was gone.”
His father, who was now another person, said, “I know what you mean. That happens to me all the time.”