Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Identification By Karen Pearson

Waiting. The unfeeling command of the red traffic light. Every second a reprieve from certainty.

The elderly woman in the back of the police car appeared small, out of place, but her thoughts had been optimistic when the officers arrived.

‘I’m sorry Mrs Perez, there’s been a drive-by shooting. A woman has been killed.’

‘No! Not here, no trouble here.’

‘An eyewitness thinks she may be your daughter Anna.’

‘An eyewitness? How can they know...’

‘You’ve met Josef Herrera?’

Then came the fear, with its unrelenting agony of possibilities.

Anna hadn’t contacted her mother for weeks, a difference of opinion on the company she kept had caused a temporary stall in their relationship, but Mrs Perez knew full well that her daughter often visited Herrera’s store.

“Would you come with us?”

The intersection lights switched.

In the quiet room, the chill of death was almost tangible. The peaceful recliner, still and silent, stayed veiled until the frail lady was quite ready.

She stepped forward.

Anna’s lips, Anna’s eyes, but...not Anna’s face! And a short gasp released memories hidden for over fifty years…

A young Latino woman, headstrong and confident, recovering from exhaustion after a long delivery.

‘Look Papa! Twin girls!’

‘They’re not what we agreed, we cannot afford two. You are seventeen, unmarried.’

‘But Papa, I can work.’

‘You are dreaming.’

Over time, the steady erosion of her will. His face gentle.

‘My love, I have found a couple. Good people. They wish for a child. They will pay you money, much money. Think, my darling.’

And finally, the inevitable. The proud young mother stood in another room while the unknown pair made their choice.

The old woman spent one moment more in contemplation of familiar features.

So like Anna.

Eyes closed and tranquil, as if hushed to sleep.

‘Where have you been, my baby?’

But the silent figure kept all its secrets.

With a tiny shake of her head, Mrs Perez turned and walked out of the room with dignity, walked home alone, a mother left to grieve for her lost child.


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