Two little girls. C & C. One’s in Julie’s class at school, and the other is Maddie’s friend from daycare. They live across the street. They’ve been to our house for play dates and birthday parties. The older C wants to grow up before her time. We see her wandering the street sometimes, looking more like a teenager than a little girl. She misses too much school for reasons unknown to us. She’s wearing sadness and the weight of life before her time. The younger C is shy and sweet. She has the most delightful smile that creeps onto her face when Maddie makes her giggle.

The other night, Marcel was taking the garbage out at midnight and saw the ruckus across the street. A man – we’re not sure which man – father of the kids or boyfriend of the mother – got handcuffed and hauled off in a police car. The older of the two C’s was there – in the parking lot with her older brother – talking to the policemen. There was no sign of the mother – a beautiful young woman who draws too much sadness to herself and her children.

That’s all we know. We haven’t seen the children since. I want to go looking for them, but I don’t know what to say. Do I knock on the door and say “we saw the ruckus and we want to make sure the children are safe?” Or do I simply send the girls across the street looking for a play date – just to make sure all is well?

Sometimes, I feel paralyzed when faced with other people’s pain.

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