Operation Caffeination

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The little girl rounded the corner too quickly and nearly bumped into me.

“Ha, oops!” I laughed as I sidestepped her.

But the little girl wasn’t smiling. She held her hands clasped to her mouth and began to tremble.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered, her eyes flooded with guilt and shame.

“You didn’t do anything wrong,” I assured her. “People bump into each other in stores all the time. It’s okay.”

She stared back at me blankly.

“Hey!” an angry adult voice sliced through the store. “I told you to get paper towels and come straight back! If you aren’t back here on the count of five we’re going back out to the car and then you’ll be sorry! You’re really asking for it today!”

The child’s jaw clenched automatically as she turned to duck away from me, returning to her parents, going back into the hell I know so well.

“I like your headband,” I called after her weakly.

She glanced at me over her shoulder, cold, numb eyes shining with tears that she’s learned to keep to herself over the years. I want to hug her, to let her know that she can get herself out of this, that she isn’t powerless, that even at six years old she is not alone and doesn’t have to take what life is giving her, that people will believe her if she speaks up and that help will come.

But that would be lying, and she’d know it. All I could do was stare after her and hope that, maybe by the time she’s a mother, things will be better.


Written by GRSeim

May 12, 2012 at 7:41 am

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