Looking down from her balcony, Renee learns about her neighbor’s pregnancy. The neighbor was on the phone with her mother and Renee was out smoking a cigarette, not meaning to eavesdrop, but hearing every word. Still she stood there long after her cigarette burned out and listened, remembering her own pregnancy, remembering the early years of bringing up a baby. Her kids are grown now, married, making their own families. She gets her phone and calls her son. It goes to voicemail, but even that sliver of his voice is comforting. She calls again just to hear it. It’s Mom, she says. Call me. She closes the phone and stare out at the houses on the street wondering at the children playing the yards. Do their mothers love them the way she loves her kids? Are they safe? Renee weeps a little at the thought of tragedy. It waits in the street, ready to take a child’s life if no one is watching. So Renee watches. She stands on her balcony overseeing the kids in the neighborhood. She doesn’t know their names, but she watches over them all the same. Children are sacred. They make the walls of loneliness bearable.
William L. Alton was born November 5, 1969 and started writing in the Eighties while incarcerated in a psychiatric prison. Since then his work has appeared in Main Channel Voices, World Audience and Breadcrumb Scabs among others. In 2010, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has published one book titled Heroes of Silence. He earned both his BA and MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon where he continues to live. You can find him at williamlalton.com.