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Tuesday 200 - #51

At first glance they’re a typical young family, resting on a sidewalk bench. The dad, he couldn’t have been more than 22, slumped into the corner, looking sullen and picking at the cuticle on his thumb. A baby stroller’s in front of him, the bundle wrapped up in a blue blanket.

The mom was sitting squarely in middle, facing forward, elbows on knees and face buried in her hands. Her long brown hair hung down like curtains over her forearms.

At second glance you could tell he was staring anywhere but towards her. If the baby wasn’t there, you wouldn’t think they had anything to do with each other.

Third glance … she’s trembling, not resting. Is she crying? Is she ill?

“Hey mate, gotta light?” I ask.

His eyes don’t move, and his lips barely part. “Not now,” he whispers. “Keep walking.”

I tuck my hand-rolled behind my ear and follow instructions.

There is no fourth glance.

A block away I pass two men, late twenties, eastern European accents, heading towards the bench I’ve just passed. Surely my ears are playing a trick when I hear, “she needs a fix, and we need a kid. Today’s our lucky day.”

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