Back On the Rock

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Little Girl Lost

She knocks at the front door gingerly.

“Excuse me,” she says. Her face is round and soft. Eyes bright; skin smooth, flawless; blessed by youth and good genes.

“I’m lost.”

Our helper moves to the front door, but she shakes her head and looks right at me. “Can you help me?”

We are the same size, same height, same colouring. She looks like me, but younger. Barely seventeen. Up close, she smells like soap and rose water.

“I didn’t know it was apartments,” she says, looking at a worn piece of paper in her hand. “I’m looking for a place…” Her voice trails off and she lets go of my gaze, “…where there are girls like me.”

“What kind of place?” I ask her. I want her to put it into words, to have it be the sound of her own voice that turns her on her heels. There is a place nearby where there are girls who might have looked like her once; but now their faces are hard, their eyes are dull.

“What kind of place?” I ask her again.

She stares at her shoes. “A place with girls like me,” she sighs. “I supposed to get a job there.”

We stand there for a minute, her eyes flickering nervously from my face to her shoes, my brain stupidly scrolling through a catalog of useless questions.

“You know where it is?” she asks impatiently.

I think of a thousand things to tell her, but in my haste to get back to my work, my world, I am as complicit as the slack-jawed men who park their cars nearby. Our exchange is quick and cold.

“No, there’s no place like that here,” I tell her.

“Go home.”


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