Crushed Candy


Room Magazine - - EDITOR’S LETTER -

Be­fore that spring, fields were just fields. We’d crossed the empty fields be­hind the civic cen­tre count­less times, a short­cut home, a short­cut to the mar­ket where we would fill our pock­ets with choco­late bars, licorice whips, gummy bears. Then, they were just fields.

1985, and we were in­no­cent. Our streets were busy with kids, shouts from mothers call­ing us in for din­ner. We played kick the can. Freeze tag. Red light, green light. Bi­cy­cles were strewn on lawns, for­got­ten. But then, he took the girls in that field. We knew them. They were us.

Whis­pers passed be­tween mothers, assem­blies were held at school, where we were warned not to go any­where with a stranger, where we were told to al­ways re­main in groups. Now, even walk­ing in twos was un­safe. He had changed that. Our mothers turned the TV’s on low when news­casts came on, but still we heard enough. We knew he had hurt them, but could not yet imag­ine how. Yel­low Neigh­bour­hood Watch stick­ers went up in win­dows. Mothers drove us to school in the morn­ing now. Our fa­thers added new dead­bolts to the doors. A ges­ture only, we knew, be­cause those girls had been taken in day­light, the hours that were sup­posed to be safe.

What else did we know? Candy was crushed be­neath the girl, sticky and gummy on the back of her T-shirt. The field would have been warm­ing from early spring sun. Mo­ments be­fore, the girls had pur­chased slushies and five cent can­dies at the mar­ket across the street. The sting of su­gar still on their tongues.

It didn’t mat­ter how he got them there—each lie worked, worked just as well as on all those other girls. The list grew, end­less, spool­ing out. Van­cou­ver, Lan­g­ley, Burn­aby. His fin­ger­prints across all that ge­og­ra­phy. He put a pa­per bag over his head. He said, Make love to me. What do lit­tle girls know about love? The girl shut her eyes. He told her friend to watch.

There were birds in the trees, trilling about spring com­ing early. The sound of laugh­ter echoed from the street be­yond, other kids walk­ing home from school, their back­packs heavy with math work­sheets, so­cial stud­ies text­books. The girls heard them, and prayed for some­one to tram­ple the long grass, save them. They didn’t even know what be­ing

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