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Author and Performance Artist Lauretta Ali

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A death of innocence...

Past photos of Margaret Mae Moore reveal a handsome, comely beauty.  I once saw a photo of her (taken during the winter of 1951--the year I was born).  A delightful, jubilant smile; joyful eyes on chocolate skin; a csacade of curls encircling her round face. 
I have never really met this woman--my mother.  Certain special events I can recall, as far back as age two.  Yet, my mama's face, full of glee and future promise, I can't remember. 
But, I remember you Daddy...
I was only three years old.  My brother was two.  Children are delighted with the thrill of disobedience--even in the toddler stages.  How else can I explain why Harold and I got up as soon as my father left?  We prepared to play our favorite game--cooking.  But, this time we would really cook. 
We tore up newspapers and wet them so they would mix easily.  How we did this, I can't recall.  How we got the matches to strike?  Not even a flutter in my memory bank.
But, I do remember the fire. It was so bright and orangy.  Strong and fierce.  I remember the crying, the screaming, the fire engines, and finally, my daddy.  His strong arms cradling my brother and me.
The complete, so consummate that only fear prevailed.  Even at three, I realized my transgression, my misdeed.  Only later did I conceive that one act of toddler defiance let to the desolution of my family as it was.
Like a drunk, I often stumble about in a stupor.  Even today.  Questioning myself about why I set the fire.  Claiming if I hadn't, maybe, just maybe my father and mother would be together today celebrating 40 years of marriage.
Yet, in my sane moments, I acknowledge a Mightier Power who would not allow a fairytale farce to exist.  We all must, in the end, succumb to the piper.

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