Earning her trust is so difficult. I have tried everything: eating the food laid out before us before encouraging her to eat; leaving her alone while she dressed and undressed; standing at a safe distance from her while communicating. My patience has known no bounds as I try to build a foundation of trust. She reminds of a young horse who has never been ridden: skittish, distrusting of the unaccustomed weight on the back. Bit by bit, little by little, I believe that I will gain her trust and her belief that I will cause her no harm.
The authorities found her in the small closet, curled up in the small space and cowering from the light. Malnourished and mute, it took several hours to remove her to the hospital where she bit, kicked and screamed. Eventually she was drugged to sleep so that they could heal the burns and lacerations that were all over her body. When I saw her lying so small and still in the hospital bed, my heart wept. No human being should be treated thus: worse than an animal, beaten and taunted until all innocence and trust has been destroyed.
My beautiful Mattie has been with me for a year now. No longer is she skin and bones. Her hair shines now and she has learnt to walk without fear in the sunlight. She will always be small for her age but I encourage her to thrive in the here and now. Family and friends believe me to be insane: to take on a nine year old child who cannot speak, who shies away from touch and does not show any emotion. And yet, when I look at her, I know that deep within my soul I am doing the right thing. I know that while helping her heal, I am healing myself too.
“Good morning Mattie. How is my Angel doing today?”
Not expecting an answer, I complete setting the table for our breakfast. Once Mattie is seated, I begin to fry some eggs. I crack the shells in front of her and pop some bread into the toaster. I take a unopened carton of juice out of the fridge and pour a glass for her. Once our meal is ready, I sit opposite her with a smile.
“Thank you, “she whispers.
Tears form in my eyes. Her first words to me, the most precious words I have heard in a long time.
(This piece of free writing was inspired by Kellie Elmore’s prompt: Trust)
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014