Our House at Four In the Afternoon

They bulldozed our house this afternoon. Then they bulldozed the rest of the neighborhood. We sat on the front lawn and watched. My brother held my hand and asked a man in a suit with a clipboard if he had seen our dog. The man did not say anything. The bulldozers were loud and looked like sea squid.

The men inside the bulldozers smoked cigarettes and listened to music and tapped their feet. Our neighbors sat on their front lawns and looked at one another and some of them were crying and thinking that they should not be crying.

Later, in the afternoon, a man with a yellow star came with red rope and told us that we could not sit on the lawn. He had a neat haircut and smooth skin. He said people like us should be happy that we are still alive.

It was that bad, he said. Some people like us did not make it out of here alive, he said. His wife had probably ironed his pants that morning. There were crisp lines in his pants. The lines ran up the sides. The man was definitely important so we did not ask him questions. My brother squinted because it was sunny.

I nodded. I should be happy that I am not dead. Our neighbors did not look happy to be alive. Our neighbors looked angry that they were alive. There would be other people who would be happy to be alive, I thought and my face began to get hot. I knew that the blood in my body was going to my face because that is what my seventh grade science teacher told me—-she told me I would turn red. But I have never turned red.

Our next door neighbor yelled at the man with the yellow star. Our neighbor did not have any shirt on and he looked dirty. The man who yelled looked like he was not happy to be alive. Other neighbors yelled at the man with the yellow star. None of them looked happy to be alive, either. Some of them looked mean and were covered in cuts and dirt. Some of them spit when they yelled. My brother held my hand.

Our house fell at four in the afternoon. It fell quickly like it was made of paper. The man with the crisp pants did not come by and pat me on the back. He was doing important things in other neighborhoods. He was making sure people knew that they were safe and that they were lucky to be alive.

It wasn’t fair that everyone was mad at him.


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