Alva's gift attacked and almost destroyed
A cat began to yowl somewhere outside, an eerie sound like a baby wailing. Kitty got up to peer out the window.
“I can’t tell where all it’s at,” she said, breaking into her Kentucky drawl for the first time in years. “Spooky sounding the way a cat cries like a baby, ain’t it?”
“I won’t think badly of you, Alva,” Kitty said softly, controlling her words once again. “No matter what it is. We, all of us, got … what do they call it? Baggage.”
“You think that’s a kitty outside?” Alva asked.
“No. I think it’s a full grown cat, probably,” Kitty answered turning away from the window. She sat down again.
Alva looked out the window, her head tilted back slightly, her breathing a little labored, on her face the look of someone who is struggling to hold something back but at the same time to reveal it.
“I was only twelve years old,” Alva said in a steady voice, removed from emotion, as if she was reading a newspaper aloud. She took a breath and continued. “Walking home from the library after school. I was a happy girl. I sang in church every Sunday. I loved church. I loved singing. Everyone said I had a gift.” She stopped there.
Outside the cat wailed. The traffic light at the corner turned from orange to red, as did its reflection in the kitchen window glass.
“You don’t lose a gift,” said Kitty. “If you’re born with it.”
Alva looked out the window again, her gaze fixed on one spot.
“I was wearing a green skirt and a sweater my grandma had knitted for me. It was November, but it wasn’t cold yet.”
She stopped again. This time Kitty said nothing.
“There was five or six of them – I don’t know how many exactly. They came out of the trees by the side of the road and grabbed me right up. One of them held his hand over my mouth and another one picked up my feet and they carried me off and done what they intended to me and left me in the dirt in the woods. I remember they was laughin’ and swearin’. And I remember they smelled of liquor. And I remember they was all of them white boys. I was hurt and couldn’t move at all. It got dark and I was all alone.”
Alva began to cry. Her large shoulders shook and Kitty came over and hugged her and stroked her back.
“It’s a long time ago. No one can hurt you now,” Kitty said.
“My mama and daddy found me later. I don’t know how, but they was a lotta people helping them to look for me.” Alva took a tissue from Kitty and blew her nose.
“Did they catch the men who did this to you?”
“Child, you from the south ain’tchoo? You know them boys got away scott free. And when the baby come I never even seen it. Not once. It was a boy. They let me name it. Moses. I named it from the Bible because Moses was a lost child who his mama had to give away, too. And I hoped to God that boy got a good home and people who loved him. I don’t even know what color he was born.” Alva wiped at her eyes with the balled up tissue. “They tole me he was a healthy baby. Thass all I know about my only child.”