Little Girl Lost

May your burdens lighten
May your heart be filled
May the blossoms you love
Turn toward the spaces where you dwell

And so I walk to where she dwells, that small weeping child in the darkness. She sits huddled over and shivering. I can hear her light sobs punctuated by the movement of her tiny shoulders.

Her clothes are dirty and torn. Her feet are covered with decades of grime and filth. Her eyes, when I can see them are filled with such agony and fear.

At first I try to embrace her, holding her against me so as to warm and reassure. But it is not nearly enough for so many years of pain, terror and despair.

So I get up. I start collecting twigs, branches, bark and dried leaves. I drop them in a pile just a little ways in front of where she sits. She is startled each time I drop another bundle.

Slowly as I sit sorting the wood from the kindling, creating piles from the quick start to the long lasting, she dares a peek.

Yes! She is still curious, that is a good sign. She watches me now through her fingers as I begin building the tripod that will later receive the fresh fire.

I pull out my fire kit and begin striking the steel against the flint. Her eyes glow with excitement when the spark hits the char cloth, igniting the shredded rope. As I place the fire bundle into the tripod, she sits up to watch. Slowly she exhales as I blow into the building flames. Quickly but deliberately, I add twigs, then branches till finally I can add the long burning log.

She has stopped crying and now I can see her small tortured face. Her cheeks are clean from all the tears but all else needs a good scrubbing. Her hair is matted but I can still make out what had been her tender baby curls.

I pick up the ready blanket and wrap it around her narrow shoulders. She looks at me with such trepidation yes, but also I can see the glimmer of hope.

I pour water into my camp mug and offer it to her. She grabs it quickly and downs it completely. I refill the mug, holding it lightly and lift it slowly to her mouth. One sip, then another, and her eyes flicker with understanding as she sips slowly as I leave the mug cupped in her small hands.

I pull out the soup and the bread, as I begin preparing her meal. I catch her looking at me with such raw emotion that it tears at my heart. By the time I offer her the meal, we are both crying … again. But this time the tears are not so bitter.

Slowly I lay out the pad then the sleeping bag, as I help her to lie down for her first real rest in years. At daybreak, we will return home … together. But tonight she gets to finally sleep and hopefully begin anew to dream the dreams of the innocent … while I keep vigil throughout the night.

©2008 Katrina Messenger

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