She was hungry, she was weak, she was tired, and she knew when she saw light on the floor that food would be coming soon.
She scooted off the mat into what warmth the early sun provided through the blinds; her scamper creating a swirl of fine dust. She watched the free form of their movements—a glint here and there, always enchanted, splaying her fingers through their untouchable beauty.
But she feared the window.
She had tried to stretch her arm through the bars as far as it would go hoping someone on the street would notice and come help her. Someone did come, but not to help take her back home.
Her legs felt shaky, her bottom hurt, and her tummy grumbled so she hugged her knees real close. She closed her eyes and lifted her face into the light that was becoming a little brighter, and a little warmer. It made the inside of her lids a pretty color. She believed if she breathed in real deep, the light would fill her with its warm power and protect her somehow.
It was a tiny bit of comfort to a tiny bit of a heart.
They called her, Girl.
She never knew how long she would have to wait but it was the only constant in her life that didn’t include a man. She was to call them Uncles.
Food, tea, a thorough scrub, and a studied inspection of her whole body came once a day from women—Aunties, to her. They paid special attention to the places where the Uncles played their games; they sponged water everywhere so not to waste it.
If she cried, the Aunties would grab her hair and yank her up on her toes and shake her head. She should appreciate the food, the mat, the tea. Uncles liked to play special games and a little girl was a part of those games. Uncles wanted pretty little faces and little bodies smooth and tender. Water was not easy to get, and she had tea, and a bath. The Uncles worked hard to pay for it all, just for her. How lucky she was!
Her heart started to beat fast. It hurt.
She heard soft steps coming up the stairs. Sometimes they were loud steps. She never saw the faces of those who brought her food but she recognized their feet, for she must always keep her eyes lowered in their presence. No one ever spoke.
She moaned quietly to her feet to greet the bearer of such luxuries as tea. Head bowed, hands folded, legs wobbly.
The knob rattled, the door swung easily on crooked hinges. Girl’s heart beat faster. Her crumpled undergarment hung loose on a thin frame concealing its fragile innocence in the quiet light of hope.
A tray clanked on the floor and soft steps came within sight. She didn’t recognize this Auntie’s feet. A hand moved, Girl tensed . . . a flash of fear rushed through her chest. Auntie touched her exposed shoulder, “Little one?” Girl tried to breathe quietly and not flinch.
The Auntie bent down and looked up into Girl’s eyes and smiled, "Soon, little one." she whispered, “Soon.” then got up and hurried to the door. Girl dared to peek from under curious lashes. Auntie caught her glance and gestured not to speak—sad eyes meeting another. The crooked door slammed shut.
Girl wondered if it was another game.
She lifted her face and took in another deep breath of light.
Her throat ached.
She had learned to cry with no tears.
Author’s footnote: Contrary to what we would like to happen, it takes time to coordinate a rescue, and the funds for each step. Please feel free to repost as you wish.
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