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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 6, Number 2, June 2012


Ignatius Fay
Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

The Weight

She is one of the strongest women I know. A child welfare officer of 14 years, she removes a malnourished and under-developed 10-month-old baby from parents who are hard-core drug and alcohol abusers. Somehow, during the court hearing two weeks later, they convince the judge to return the child to their custody, against her strongest recommendations. Her petition to appeal is denied.

her son holds a buttercup
under her chin

She receives the call at home three nights later. The child is dead. As caseworker of record, she has to attend at the morgue to document the condition of the body: multiple bruises and several fractured bones, including the skull. The police find the parents wasted on Ecstasy. Earlier, while strung out, the father had beaten the child to stop its crying.

She falls apart, unable to work. The memories haunt her. She can no longer tolerate being around young children. The sound of a child crying incapacitates her: she sees, hears, feels nothing for more than ten minutes. She cannot discuss the scene at the morgue without becoming hysterical. When she's alone at home, the radio and television must be on—and loud. Otherwise she's convinced she hears a baby crying. She faces the prognosis of a long and questionable recovery from severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

lunchtime football
the same man offers
to referee



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