Jangling cow bells, jeers and cheers erupt, fists raise in the air, one finger extended...some for victory, other for shame. End over end, the brown leather ball streaks through the night, crashing into the arms of adolescent warriors, battling their lions on the coliseum floor. Crimson streaks join earth tone swaths, on the stretched white canvas of their padded uniforms.
Ave imperator, morituri te salutant...Hail emperor, those who are about to die salute you!
Jubilant cacophony overwhelms all, leaving only a quivering of attention against my thigh. Highlighted in blue, the numbers on my phone ring heavy with ominous portent.
It is done.
Simple words, steeped with emotion, cut like a sword pulled slowly across my supplicant back, again and again.
What would it take for you to give up your child? To know that their life would be better with someone else?
You may imagine this in an impoverished country, where leaving will provide them with more resources, but not here. Not in your back yard.
This happens. And what hurts more is this feeling that it should, that I helped find the new home, picked out just for them, wondering how it ever got to the point I believe this is best. But right now, there is you and me...
How are you?
Crowds and conquest slip silently in the background, only our voices echo across the space between us, consoling and assuaging as we breathe hope for the moment. Clap, the sound of my cell phone closing, a resounding gong of finality, in the afterglow of sacrifice.
Little armored bodies run up and down the field of grass, victory ringing hollow, waiting on tomorrow.