A few days later, I went past the house. It still smoldered; the stinging scent of smoke hung in the air and blanketed the neighborhood. Somewhere in that charred soggy wreck of a house, huddled in a closet–as the playground gossip had it–she had died, clutching a doll.
When I think of her now, she is still thirteen, swaggering out to the playground, ready to humiliate the boys at softball. She wears a plaid skirt, reluctantly, and her red hair is parted on the side. Her smile is wide, and she is teasing some boy about something as she punches a fist into her mitt.
|LaDonna and her brothers.Photograph from the Richmond Independent, January 5, 1961