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They Do Not See Me

They Do Not See Me
Maryam Alatmane

Suspicion was breathed in and compassion exhaled. Silence asked the questions everyone was afraid to utter.

Who is it that tells them?

We look away when we pass one another on the street. Maybe I knew her once. I shake the thought away.

Is she the one who tells them about us?

Step by step, moving forward, passing row upon row of grey. A gunshot sounds. I flinch. Carry on walking. Step carefully around a pool of blood and finger the yellow star, stitched onto my fraying coat.

How can anyone want to do away with all of us?

The rumble of motorcycles, growing louder. Curtains twitch. A baby starts to cry. Head down, my pace quickens. Don’t look up. Don’t look up. Don’t look up. Footsteps approaching; one of them. Our eyes meet.

Do they know what we think?

A woman is pushed out of a doorway. A child with a thin, angular face clings to her skirts. Tears stream down her face. “Please don’t do this,” a snippet of their conversation wafts through the air. There’s no time for sympathy.

How can we believe that one of us would help them?

I turn right. They are standing there, like they always are. Check the coast is clear. Whispered words, frantic gestures, the feel of crisp bank notes. Until next time.

How can I ever admit to anyone that the person we are all looking for is me?


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