Linda lived alone. She had a home security system but still felt vulnerable. Her neighborhood had been idyllic when she and her late husband Jim raised their kids. Now there were all kinds of people living there.
Just a few weeks earlier, a strange-looking family had moved in two doors down. Linda hadn’t met them, but she could tell they were immigrants by the way they dressed. Maybe they too were illegals, she thought.
It was a warm, sunny morning, and Linda decided to take a walk. She put on a wide brim hat, locked her front door and headed out.
Walking down the sidewalk, she came upon a young woman and a little girl kicking a ball back and forth in the front yard of the new neighbors’ house.
“Good morning,” the young woman said.
Linda said nothing. The woman just smiled and kicked the ball to the girl, but it bounced by her. It rolled between two parked cars and into the street. The girl ran after it.
“Layla!” the woman screamed.
Linda saw a car coming. She bolted after the child, who started to squeeze through the parked cars. Linda grabbed her by the shirt and yanked her back. They both fell backward into the grass.
The young woman hurried over, dropped to her knees and gathered the girl in. The woman was crying and saying something Linda didn’t understand.
“Is she okay?” Linda said, slowly getting to her feet.
But the woman didn’t answer. Instead, she picked up the girl and carried her into the house.
Linda brushed off her pants, put her hat back on and resumed her walk. She wondered where the woman and the girl were from and what language the woman had been speaking. She hoped the girl was okay.
Back home, eating lunch, Linda heard a knock at her front door. She opened it. On her porch stood the woman and the girl. The woman was holding a plate full of pastries.
“My name is Amara,” she said, “and this is Layla.”
The girl looked up at Linda and smiled.
“Hello, Linda,” Amara said. “Thank you for my daughter.”