Then I saw his shoulders slump down. He got into the backseat of the police car while Officer Miguel stuffed his handcuffs back into his pocket, like he'd decided it wasn't going to be necessary to use force.
Mr. Tom covered his face with his hands and sat down on the curb.
I ran over to the car as fast as I could, blinking tears back into my eyes. I wondered what Daddy could've done to make Officer Miguel put him in his car. I told myself, Don't cry, don't you even think about crying. Who cares if they have to take him away? He'll be back after everything gets straightened out.
"I can't go into this right now, Groovy," Daddy told me through the crack in the window. His eyes shrank to the size of tiny dots, and his face turned stiff. Quiet floated between us, the kind that makes people uncomfortable when there's nothing to say.
Then he seemed to change his mind about talking, and with a sad voice he said, "Sometimes when you figure out the answer to a problemsomething you know you need to fixit's too late. You know what you have to do, but you've run out of time." His eyes looked at me, but like I wasn't there. "Groovy, listen to me." He put his hand on the window, his fingers smudging the glass. "Things can start out on track, but end up different. I'm sorry." And he looked away before I could say anything.
"Groovy, is your mother at work today?" Officer Miguel asked me.
"Yes, sir," I answered, but it didn't sound like the normal me.
The foregoing is excerpted from The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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