What a fortuitous time it was for a blackout. I was about nine, and it was my first Christmas and only a few months deep with my foster family. Decent, staunchly religious people. Except for the older kids, who hid their depravity but not their inveigling influence under freshly starched and ironed Sunday clothes. Who as we walked along the street, that Christmas Eve, ogled the toys we’d never have. All the way from China. What genius tinkerers. And hawked now on the sidewalk, those toys. No gentle lies. We had no innocence to woo Santa, no chimney to welcome him. So we eyed those trucks, those superheroes, toy soldiers, those Tonkas, those toy trains, those windmills, toy guns. Tinsel glinting under the street lights. The beautiful, magical, twistable shapes of plastic. How our imaginations played. How the makers knew our hearts so? And then the lights went out. Exhilarating was the night. Blind thieves in the dark. Our ill-gotten troves. But short-lived are stolen pleasures…We miscreants laughing and running the length of a small town.

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