The Invisible Child (a story)
Nobody thought of him anymore. They didn’t know he existed after all. Not in such a clean and affluent world. He was covered in dirt and miles under the earth. Where no one would think to look for a child. Weren’t there laws that prevented his being hired at all? Let alone working as long, hard and in as unsafe conditions. Last week, his best friend had died in his arms. Trying to protect him. When he really hadn’t wanted to be protected. He wished he could change places, to be honest. But it’s not like he could make the wish so. No one would notice if he lived or died, but his friend had had family. And now the keening of his mom was ringing thru the village. She certainly had other mothers to support her wail. Who had lost children to the mine. But what choice did they have? It was the mine or nothing around these parts. If you wanted to stay in the village of your birth. It was all the people knew after all.
Now he worked around the ghosts of his friends and the story spirits mothers and grandmothers told of their lost babies, some as young as four years old. He knew where each child had died, and stepped just there to see if the devil mine would take him as well. But so far he was still alive, even if he was buried each day for the consumption of others. Not having heard of hopscotch, he was playing a deadly game of it.
He walked in rhythm to the coughs and rawls of his pale fellow workers and it became almost music in his brain. He wondered if it would sell to the rich who claimed to need the stuff the mines had brought them? Probably not.
He had heard of something called a “smart phone” that had become a new craze and wondered if it was so important when it drew the breath from a child? Did the people who bought them know the price his friend had just paid? Was the fad worth it? His bosses thought so. They kept praying for more purchases.
He shuffled between the condemned spots, torn between being glad he had the job so if he was going to survive, he could eat tonight, and being so furious that a fad could cost the life of his friends and neighbours. His anger was the stuff from which revolutions and wars came from. Yet few of those who bought the phones even knew of the blood on them. And would blame the angry and mourning for their actions, not themselves for their purchase. Funny how that works.
One phone would make no difference, but he wondered how would a boycott affect the mine, if the rich knew that they could make changes, so at least the death their phone caused wasn’t that of a small child.
But they needed small hands, here and in the factory where the phones were made. So women and children were the first hired and the most in danger. For a fad.
He went back to his game of hopscotch, fuming. If he lived long enough, he would pass on this rage to his children. Just as other fathers and mothers were to their children. He wondered how many deaths it would take before violence rose up. And how long it would be before the soldiers came to beat down their cause when it did. It was just a matter of time.
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[modern child mining][http://www.ilo.org/ipec/areas/Miningandquarrying/MoreaboutCLinmining/lang–en/index.htm]