Precipitation is finally falling from the sky in unfrozen forms. A lot of it. Connie and the kids watch the downpour from the balcony. Across the street, a building exactly like theirs: a parking lot, small patch of grass with a large decorative boulder for some reason, and a retention ditch filled to the top, floods the adjacent lot. Cars mirror the economic status of the apartments. Beaters that needed to be “pushed, pulled, towed to Golf Mill Ford.” Some hadn’t moved in months. And the ones that did hacked and coughed like emphysema patients.
Some neighborhood kids—long-haired, shirtless, in cut-off jean shorts—talk on the edge of the ditch. Then they dive in.
“Ma! Look, Ma! They swimming.”
Connie nods dismissively.
“Can we swim, Ma?”
“No. They’re not being very safe.”
The kids in the ditch start to splash each other, a joking backstroke here, a cannonball there, as the rain continues to splash down.
James Stewart III is a Black writer from Chicago. He earned an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MA from North Central College. He is currently finishing a novel about the daily struggles of a multi-racial working-class family and the costs they pay for loving each other. He also co-curates a text-based performance series “The Guild Complex presents Exhibit B” and is a managing editor of the magazine Critics’ Union. Stewart works as a paraprofessional with special needs students at a high school in the Chicagoland area.