Everyone was smiling. Shoulders shoved hard into shoulder, unwilling to give ground. Elbows jabbed ribs to gain an extra inch. We all wanted to be close. Touch his hand. Mark this occasion indelibly into our minds. It was history but it was our history. We needed to be part of it. Feel it, soak it all up. The car appeared first, all shiny and black except for the chrome, shining in the silver heat.
When the door jarred open the crowd went into a frenzy. His leg bent purposefully out, his polished boot immaculate on the tarmac. Everyone surged, heaving and swelling. Bodies rammed against buckling barriers, others were almost sucked under. Faces disappeared between midriff and thigh, clutching at wrists, clinging to belts and waistbands, desperate not to become a bloody carpet. Still we kept smiling.
Our new Leader waved and we shrieked back. We swung flags violently and threw coloured paper into the air. Girls fisted the air. Guys wiped away tears with the backs of their hand. It had come, it had finally come. We welcomed this day. We embraced our Head of State. He marched alongside the barrier, pushing his arm into a coral reef of tangled sleeves and reaching fingers. We wanted to validate the moment.
A man lifted his child over the heads of those in front. A baby, newborn with thick black hair and brilliant brown eyes. Leaning into the crowd, our Leader picked the infant from the father’s arms. Cradling the head with his wide palm, he raised the child triumphantly, the other hand supporting the body. I watched the father mouth something. It was difficult to make anything out in the immense din. Our Leader tipped his head towards the child as if to kiss the forehead. His mouth nuzzled into the baby. I saw a brief flash of teeth and watched as a flap of skin and hair stretched and tore from the child’s scalp. He tugged at it, pushing the baby away from him, shaking his jaw from side to side like a dog with a toy. He chewed as the baby silently screamed. I saw a clean patch of ivory skull appear. The Leader chomped, grinning. Flecks of red scattered the ground.