Incident report

I was in Chicago Union Station today.

While I was walking by the food court, a woman and I crossed paths. I wouldn’t have noticed if her toddlers hadn’t been shouting by her knees. The youngest, in the front seat of the stroller, was asking for his baba, the elder parroting “He wants baba! He wants baba!”  I wouldn’t have noticed the one pushing the stroller but for their glee. My attention shifted to the mother. Upon her left eye was a great, black bruise.

It was there, on that most public and most intimate of surfaces of the human body. She’d made no effort to hide it. It was a brute fact of her life, and of the world.

We might have made eye contact for a moment, the bruised woman and I. I know I met her eyes; I don’t know if she reciprocated.

I didn’t know what there was to be done. I was on layover in a strange city. I didn’t know her situation, what resources Chicago might have.

But there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in public. We’re all in this together. I was wearing the VOICE button on my backpack.

I see now I have no right to that button. I’ve taken it off.

Didn’t want to let it go unsaid.


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