They were taken in front of us, that was the worst of it.
Not snatched in the melee of a fairground, under the sugary mist of cotton candy. Not lifted from their beds, parents too heavy with sleep to hear the creak of boards, the muffled cries.
The way they were taken was intentional – daytime, the family gathered to mourn as skinny arms reached out for Mama and Papa, the hope of rescue dying on tear-stained faces.
We control you, the gangs were saying, from the warped boards of your huts to your corn, your water, your women … your children.
Today they came again, greedy hands falling on my Bernicia’s slick of black hair, plucking at the folds of her dress, the shallow pit in her collarbone.
Strange, isn’t it, how the man who beats a dog never expects it to bite back?
For reference, according to this site the name Bernicia means One who brings victory.