As I sat in the back of a church, viewing her body from a distance, I remembered her interview.
I followed the boys to the front of a two-family house.
The boys were interviewing people for their documentary about gang violence, and I was working the camcorder.
An old black man sat in a kitchen chair on the porch.
Children played in the yard.
One of the boys asked a young lady if she wanted to be interviewed.
He guided her to the camera.
“What’s up,” I said, looking though the camcorder.
She had a tattoo of the gang’s emblem on her forearm.
She was definitely down (gang affiliated).
Someone described her as the gang’s “Queen B” (Queen Bitch).
“How long have you lived in this community?’
“All my life,” she said.
“Do you feel safe?”
“Yeah,” she said with pride.
One of the boys asked her, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
She seemed stunned.
Her eyes grew big.
She bit her lip and shrugged her shoulders, as if to say, “I don’t know.”
She just stood there.
I stopped recording.
After we left, I asked lots of questions, wanting to know more about her.
“Her name is Meka.”
“All those kids running around in the yard, those are her kids.”
I wanted to reach out to her.
But girls are different.
They are harder to reach.
I had to pace myself.
Each day I asked the boys about her.
I worked through them.
“If she needs anything, let me know,” I said.
It wasn’t until Christmas that I made my move.
I called one of the boys, “Call Meka and let her know I am going to drop off some gifts for the kids.”
He called me back, “She said swing by the crib and drop them off.”
I filled a garbage bag with gifts.
I drove to her house.
I rang the bell.
Her son answered the door.
“Is your mother here?” I asked.
“These are for your mother. Can you make sure she gets this?”
“Yes,” he said.
A few weeks ago Meka was gunned down.
I couldn’t help but wonder if she was dead because she didn’t have an answer.
I couldn’t help but wonder if she didn’t see her future because she didn’t have one.