In the distance: Gunshots.

In the foreground: A young girl crouches by a gutter grate, poking leaves from last autumn in between the cast iron bars and listening to the plink-plink-plink of pebbles falling into the water down below. She is black. She is wearing a school uniform. Her hair is in pigtails, held in place with bands of silver elastic featuring red plastic balls.

Overhead: The sky is gray and foreboding, late afternoon, between the time that school lets out and the time that parents come home from work. When there’s work to come home from, which is less and less common these days.

Underground: The rhythmic purr of a city’s heartbeat, a city seemingly unaware of the cancerous infection that continues to spread down its streets.

For the moment, though, none of that matters to the little girl pushing leaves and pebbles through a sewer grate.

— ptkh 04.21.10

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