Back to Issue Twenty-Nine.

What Are Children Made Of?




Local woman pushes for better access to mental health services after police shoot and kill son with history of mental illness and drug addiction. Couple wants answers—what will local officials do about online bullying?—after teenage son hangs himself. Police arrest woman who claimed to see officer using deadly force on her son after cell phone footage provided to local news station proves she was not where she claimed to have been during the incident. Police find body of sixty-one-year-old local anesthesiologist, badly burned and described as in pieces, in his backyard; son—found nonverbal and in poor hygienic condition in basement bedroom—not considered a suspect. Local father and son arrested for burglary: I just knew they weren’t supposed to be there, woman who called police says. Local homeowner’s son stops burglary-in-progress: He called 911 while he was sitting on top of the guy, father says. Father and son clean up three tons of garbage from area homeless camp. Police arrest homeless man accused of stabbing local man in front of his ten-year-old son. Local man abducted son before fatally stabbing himself, police say. Police say local man wanted in connection with AMBER alert; son still missing. He still has nightmares, says man from Guatemala, held at area facility before his deportation, of the 326 days his eleven-year-old son was separated from him under controversial policy. Longtime campus police officer graduates from local university alongside son Saturday. Local fireman’s son battling rare form of eye cancer. Couple designs special stuffed animal with parents’ scent and voice for kids in local Neonatal Intensive Care Unit after their own son is born two months premature. Woman says five teens, all strangers, taught her autistic son to skateboard at local skate park; police want help identifying the teens so they can be thanked. Local news reports extreme case of Munchhausen-by-proxy: Mom arrested after her eight-year-old son’s 323rd hospital visit and thirteenth major surgery. Local woman creates nonprofit to help veterans returning from conflict zones after son, suffering from PTSD, dies of self-inflicted wound. Local woman arrested after three-year-old son shoots himself in head at gas station while mother, inside, buys sports drink—I put the gun under the passenger seat so he couldn’t reach it, woman says. Man arrested after trying to run over son with a truck: He didn’t want to take a bath, man says, local television station reports. Local man arrested after allegedly punching his son because he took too long in the shower. Father finds toddler son chewing on used condom at area playground. Local woman’s son wins her a complete makeover with video showing mother and son dancing the tango. Photos provided to local news station show woman’s seven-year-old son was mauled on the head and neck by neighbor’s pit bulls. Parents trick son into believing he has incurable brain cancer, local news station reports. Local father and son face federal charges after selling diseased body parts on the black market. Father and son from UK will make area stop on their cross-country moped trip. Local couple and son killed in drunk-driving crash late Tuesday. Local father-and-son baseball dynasty will face off for the first time on Sunday, when the longtime coach and the star right-fielder battle for the conference championship. Hate crime alleged in case of local teenagers accused of beating man and his teenage son; They just thought they were going to buy a cell phone, family representative says. Son asks mother, Mom, is God going to forgive me? after shooting father twice, local news reports.



Local woman planned to inject daughter with bleach, give her charcoal enemas, says it was to kill parasites: The doctors just wouldn’t listen to me. Daughter follows in mother’s footsteps, becomes nurse to give back to country that welcomed her as a seventeen-month-old refugee, local news reports. Local mother of five arrested after school nurse finds hundreds of live cockroaches in daughter’s backpack. Daughter runs race in honor of her father, beloved local contractor and avid runner who died last year just steps from the finish line. Mother-daughter team cover local sidewalks in inspiring and colorful messages (Be the Best You; Love Everyone) posted to Instagram. Local mother’s photo shoot of eight-year-old daughter’s glamorous and athletic sides goes viral; woman says she wanted to show you can do it all. Police need your help identifying the three men shown in this video assaulting the fourth man holding his infant daughter in local restaurant. Local mom demands answers after daughter comes home from daycare with bites on her face and shoulders. Local man dies six days after hanging himself in his jail cell, awaiting trial for charges he tortured his two-year-old daughter with an airsoft gun, shock collar, and blowtorch while wearing a werewolf mask. Local mother-daughter team hold tea parties to promote civility. Local woman says school officials are ignoring her reports of bullying: My daughter’s head was smashed into the bus’s window and she was punched repeatedly in the face. Video: Woman loses wig while riding slingshot ride with her daughter at local carnival. Rare mother-daughter flight team will take off from area airport. Local mother credits car seat with saving daughter’s life during car crash: She was ejected and shouldn’t have survived, so it’s a miracle, woman says. Local woman shot and killed in her own home, daughter-in-law wanted for questioning. Man entered local woman’s apartment and shot her and her daughter without saying a word, woman reports; both women now in stable condition. Local news reports that man killed his wife—who was also his daughter—along with their seven-month-old child before taking his own life, all because she broke up with him. Local father surprises two-year-old daughter with new dress and special daddy-daughter dance on her last day of chemotherapy. Local mother and daughter stuff stockings for homeless. Parents of local NAACP chapter president speak: Our daughter is white. Sheriff refuses to say whether deputies are interviewing any of the 300 sex offenders currently living in missing girl’s neighborhood, mother tells local news. Grandmother taken into custody after local police find granddaughter, twenty months old, in home’s oven. Daughter tells mother, I think the house is on fire, after local woman’s grandson sets multiple fires on her property; police eventually locate man hiding in septic tank. Local woman found guilty of manslaughter following allegations her 320-pound niece sat on woman’s adopted daughter to help discipline her and nine year old suffocated; Why would I worry about her? I was wondering if she would finally learn her lesson, woman says. Local father-daughter duo help man with sprained ankle cross finish line at annual race. Man finds daughter two years after she and her mother go missing, hundreds of miles from home, in local homeless shelter. Man stationed at area Air Force base leaves eight-month-old daughter unattended to buy alcohol, finds her dead hours later; I can’t live with myself if I lied about this, airman says. Local man who prayed for years to be closer to his family contacted by a daughter he never knew he had.


{Note: This essay is composed exclusively of ledes published on the essayist’s local (Pensacola, FL and Spokane, WA) news stations’ websites and social media during the nine months of his partner’s pregnancy. Wording has been altered, sometimes substantially.}


Gabriel Blackwell is the author of four books, the most recent of which, Madeleine E., was named a “Best Book” of 2016 by VICE, The Believer, Gulf Coast, Essay Daily, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn. His essays and fictions have appeared in many issues of Conjunctions, in Tin House and Tin House Online, Puerto del Sol, Always Crashing, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere. A new book, CORRECTION, will be published by Rescue Press in 2021. He is the editor of The Rupture.


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