Snot. It was glistening on her dirty brown face.

But it was her eyes that caught my eye.

Those hollow ebony eyes.

She wasn’t old enough to speak. But I spoke to her, through the chain link fence that separated us. Those hollow eyes stared holes through mine. I had wandered off the touristy path into the Mexico they didn’t want me to see. But I had to see it. I had to see her. I couldn’t do a thing about it, but I wanted to see.

Snot Nose.jpg

It wasn’t my first time across the bridge to the South. But it still wedges a mysterious hole inside my heart. That feeling clings to my soul like the dust from the streets. It’s still there when I cross the bridge, past the solitary hand of the woman waving a tattered ball cap begging for a quarter as I walk North with my passport and my legal U.S. citizenship. I am free.

Free.

The uncomfortable feeling the little girl left me with haunts me. It won’t wash off in the shower back in the security and comfort of my home country. I watch TV, talk with a friend, snuggle with my wife, and I can’t shake images of that little snot-nosed girl. She’s still there and I’m still here. I can go back there, but she can’t come over here.

Why was she sitting alone in the dirt by the fence, so close to danger, no one to watch over her? Don’t her parents care?  God cares, right? I mean, He’s watching over her, right? Right?

Then why do I still feel what I feel? Is this how He feels? If He feels this way, wouldn’t He intervene? If I was God I think I’d sweep down into that dirty yard and spare one more little girl from potential harm.

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST: In 2013, Mexico officially recorded 1,698 kidnappings, the highest number on record. Yet government officials concede that only a small percentage of victims — one in 10 by some estimates — report the crime, as police are sometimes involved in kidnappings and not trusted. The statistics kept by Miranda’s organization, Association to Stop Kidnapping (Asociacion Alto al Secuestro) , recorded 3,038 kidnappings in 2013. Another, led by Fernando Ruiz Canales, a former kidnapping victim who now helps negotiate for the release of hostages, puts 2013 kidnapping totals at 27,740, or 76 per day.

John Cockroft is a writer from Missouri. Visit  JohnCockroft.com for more information.

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