The Young Girl
Cave Canem: A Special Section
Wandering through the isles of the department store, a security guard notices her lingering among the racks of costume jewelry. He thinks he saw a young black girl stuff something into her bag. The guard stops her at the double doors and searches the backpack. Nothing is found, nothing is explained, yet he looks at her as if he has seen her face before. She shuffles her feet as the manager’s name is called over the loud speaker. The guard squawks into his walkie talkie: She fits the description.
Fumbling through my purse, I wonder about her thin brown body; how many times has she been stopped, opened up in the fronts of drug stores and clothing stores. How many times have buzzers sounded and heavy eyes fallen on her face.
The manager threatens to call the police. Her big gold-hooped earrings dangle under a brown baseball cap, hiding her eyes from the customers in line. The lady behind me says the girl will start to cry. For a moment the young girl glances up, looks at me, then looks away. She turns toward the guard and starts smacking her gum loudly. A series of rapid pops like a cap gun. I crack a slight smile. I hope she took it.
January Gill, a marketing associate at Houghton Mifflin Company, has published in Dominion Review, Seattle Review and other periodicals. She is editor/creator of Colophon, Houghton Mifflin’s first literary magazine.