I know her face. I can almost feel the puffy jacket under my arms and the rough pavement underfoot.
Her round cheeks, eyes smiled shut, topped by a thin little sprout of a pony tail escaping a lopsided purple hat…
She breaks my heart.
She is me from Before.
Before it all changed and those dark brown eyes couldn’t smile shut with such abandon. When adult level secrets scurried into the corners, festering and oozing in silence for years, until erupting, angry and loud, vicious fear challenged anyone who would dare love me.
What would I say to this girl who doesn’t yet know the feeling of cold tile on bareness or the acrid, salty scent of unfamiliar skin.
She was innocent for such a tiny fleck of time.
Until, suddenly, I wasn’t.
I don’t want to write about those memories. I don’t want to look at the sweetness of who I was and look for whatever it was that made me irresistible to Them. They stole my voice and left me wondering whom I could ever be unless I became useful. Used.
I look at her again, with fresh eyes, and adore the girl she was, in that moment. Tiny doll tucked away, gloves just so, baby hair fringe across porcelain skin.
“Who would we be today?” I wonder. “If…”