Sarah could feel a set of eyes watching her and she lowered the camera as she turned around. Lily, a young girl she had met a few weeks ago, was watching her with open curiosity that was tinged with something else. But what was it? Her brown eyes were red-rimmed, like she had been crying. Lily rubbed her eyes, and looked down at the violet calico dress as she muttered, "They're gone."
Sarah's heart fell into her stomach. That was what was hidden in her eyes another heart ache for such a young girl. Before Sarah could say a word, the girl took off running her skirts billowing like a purple cloud behind her. Sarah sighed and took off after the child. There was only so many hiding spots that Lily tended to hide in, one of them being her small shop. Sure enough, there was a small violet huddle on the fainting couch. It shook in time with muffled sobs.
The girl's shoulders moved a little, as she whispered, "I'm here Miss Sarah."
Sarah winced at the brokenness of Lily's voice. She sighed and placed the camera on the countertop and sat down on the floor next to Lily. She breathed a prayer before whispering, "You wanna talk 'bout it, Little One?"
Lily shook her head and curled up tighter, as if she was trying to tune out the shouting and gun shots from the street. Sarah closed her eyes, knowing how happy Lily had been just a few days ago. A new purple dress, the same one that she was wearing today, had been purchased for her and she proudly showed it off to anyone who would look twice at the eight year old. But two words changed it all. Sarah waited in silence for Lily to open up, until finally, her patience was rewarded.
"Woke up 'nd they were gone."
There was more to the story, Sarah could feel it and carefully she rested a hand on Lily's purple clad shoulder. Thankfully, the young girl was too distraught to flitch away in her normal manner; but her reaction was that of the exact opposite. She turned toward Sarah and lunged into her arms. Sarah's eyes went wide. But she gathered Lily close as Lily poured out what happened, at least to the best of her ability. Lily ended her story with a heavy sigh and a mumbled, "Mebbe I jest ain't good 'nough ta have a mom or dad."
Sarah could feel tears pricking at her own eyes as she rubbed Lily's small back. "Can I tell you bit of a story?"
Lily snuggled a little closer and nodded. Sarah smiled a little despite the situation and asked. "What color is your dress?"
"Purple, Miss Sarah, ain't ya know yer colors?"
"I do, Little One. And that's right, it's purple, but there's something mighty special 'bout tha' color too. Didya know tha?" Lily shook her head and Sarah pressed on, "Didya know tha a long time ago, only kings and queens and princes and princesses could wear that color?"
Lily lifted her head and looked at Miss Sarah in surprise. "They did?"
Sarah nodded. "Ya know what else? When I see ya in tha' purple dress, reminds me of something. That you are a princess, and you are good enough for a mom and a dad, 'cause you are good enough for God to love."
A faint smile crossed Lily's lips as she nodded a little. Sarah smiled and held Lily close again. The small girl's body was relaxing, as she eased into an exhausted but troubled sleep. Sarah rocked back and forth, singing softly, hoping to ease her troubled sleep.
It took several minutes for Lily to completely surrender to her slumber. Sarah smiled and laid the sleeping child back down on the couch, dragging a blanket over her frame. "Sleep well, Little Princess."
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