Events seem to be coming in two’s this semester: two suicides, two co-workers gone for surgery, two students victims to the force of the gangs.
“She’s not coming back,” declared my student when I went looking for a signature. That’s not what I had heard.
“What do you mean?”
“Part of her plea deal in coming here was that she had to testify in a murder case. If she does testify she can come back, but they [the gang] will start killing her family. She has real little brothers and a single mother. If she doesn’t testify, she’ll have to serve her 48 years in adult prison.”
Had I heard her right? “Four to eight? Or 48?,” I asked.
We looked at each other while that sank in.
“She’s only 18-years-old right now,” said my student soberly. In silence we did the math.
I thought of my student who would be sacrificing his life in a much different way to protect his family. He had made his decision. Had she made hers? My student said that the girl hadn’t made up her mind as they restrained her for transport to court the day before. The restraints must have felt light and free compared to the burden she was carrying.
As I walked away from the females’ building that morning it was with difficulty that I didn’t put down my badge and drive away to some place quiet and untouched by despair.