• Mali

    October 18, 2020 at 5:25 am
    Sometimes an 'aha moment' is rather ouch. That struck me when I noticed how this emotionally hungry child was seeing her needs in another living thing. Just wrote this for myself, and I'm wondering if the message is there for different pairs of eyes, so I'm sharing it with y'all. Thanks for your time!
    Debbie doesn't talk to adults. 
    "I'm not mentioning anything close to academics. Just focus on life skills. How to pay the guy at the grocery, how to have a sense of time. Do anything and everything. Fill the hour with connection." Mrs. Fine says. 
    Debbie is ten. 
    Day one, I try open-ended questions. 
    Nods, smiles, faraway gazes. 
    We go to the toy store to choose a game. Debbie walks through the aisles, a completely blank expression on her face. Fifteen minutes pass. She picks one off the shelf. Ages 4+. 
    I smile, "Want this one?"
    One, affirming nod. She wants this one. 
    We begin to walk home. I talk. About myself, about the pool, about heat waves in the city. Occasionally, she shakes her head no, or chuckles in understanding. 
    Debbie seems to be listening. 
    I have no idea what I'm doing. 
    Day two, we play our new game, on the boardwalk. 90 degrees. 
    Debbie's eyes scare me. They are so brown. 
    They said to utilize questions. 
    "What are some other games you like to play?"
    No words yet.
    She stares at me. So many words inside herself, all of them stuck, unseen. 
    How do I prove you are safe?
    "Isn't it nice, the water and everything? You like this place?"
    Three gleeful nods. 
    It seems as if her glee was mistakenly revealed. A tiny whole in a water balloon. 
    Debbie swallows it quickly. Big, brown eyes again. 
    We walk home. I talk. Debbie doesn't. 
    I notice that Debbie has difficulty pacing herself.  Keep finding myself ahead, her speed slowing down unevenly. 
    I decide to suggest something. I can't seem to open her anyway. 
    "Debbie, do you think we can try something? Maybe we can try walking at the same speed. Side by side. Like that, none of us walk alone. I want to walk with you Debbie, okay?"
    A wave of disbelief, delight and fear washes over her face. I know her for two hours now, but I understand. 
    Did nobody ever want to walk with you?
    Day three, I decide to meet Debbie in her space. 
    Less talking, more sensing. 
    Debbie caught a goldfish at day camp, she is completely lost in its world. 
    "Hey. Sweet fish, Debbie. I wonder if you want to give it a name."
    No words yet. 
    I don't press for more. Maybe they will emerge on their own. 
    Great, concerned mentor. You've felt stuck, too. 
    We sit down at the kitchen table, and I show Debbie the new craft kit I bought, especially for her. 
    She acknowledges it in her signature way. Small smile, slighter nod, waiting gaze. 
    Something is odd today. I almost feel like Debbie is doing me a favor. 
    The goldfish. She is with him. 
    I watch Debbie for a few minutes. She shifts the container, softly pokes more holes in the cover. Big, brown eyes again. 
    She doesn't seem to notice me observing her at all. 
    "Debbie, want to start with the friendship bracelets?"
    She shakes her head in refusal, a resounding no. She's back to her goldfish. 
    "Why, do you not like it?" 
    No response. 
    "Debbie, you want us to do this craft today?"
    A quick nod. Goldfish, again.
    "Okay, so let's start?"
    She wags her head, like a frightened cat. No, no, no. Not now, no. 
    Big, brown eyes on the goldfish again. 
    They deepen and take on an intensity. Something about this little, living creature is making Debbie move. 
    Two, urgent breaths. 
    She turns to me sharply. Releases a breath. 
    Her first three words. 
    They tumble out like uncontained fire. A choice-less choice to speak. 
    "He is hungry."
  • Brocha

    October 18, 2020 at 6:08 am


  • A Willing Pen

    October 18, 2020 at 10:28 am

    <p>Love your observation.</p><p>Beautifully written.</p>

  • missnistar

    October 18, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    <p>That was touching. Very well portrayed. I really like it.</p>

  • Sury

    October 18, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    Wow – this is the kind of writing that makes me tense and hold in my breath till the end. Superbly written. The non-verbal emotions really came through to me…Great job, Mali!

  • PassionforWriting

    October 18, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    wow wow, Sury! I absolutely love the real’ness’ of it and the depth of emotion. Is it okay if I comment? It sounds like this child is very fearful, but you (if you’re the writer) is doing all the right things.

    • Mali

      October 18, 2020 at 4:42 pm

      Thank you, Passion:) To be honest, I actually gave up working with this girl. Felt she wasn’t getting enough of the real help, and in no way was I going to be a half-baked replacement for what she needed….

    • PassionforWriting

      October 18, 2020 at 4:45 pm

      Whoops, I said Sury, but I meant Mali 🙂 You’re welcome 🙂 Well that makes sense because you didn’t feel qualified enough; you didn’t feel you had the expertise to meet her needs. Did she get the help she needed?

    • Mali

      October 18, 2020 at 4:48 pm

      I do hope.

    • Sury

      October 19, 2020 at 11:15 am

      Lol 🤣 I got excited for a fraction of a second!

  • Mali

    October 18, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Thank you, all! Glad something came through here. Was unsure of whether it’d feel rather blank

  • Anagrammer

    October 18, 2020 at 7:17 pm

    <p>I love your perspective. Though you are basically just relating the facts, your love and feelings towards Debbie come through. One can sense that you are a sensitive, caring individual, and very perceptive, as well.</p>

    • Mali

      October 19, 2020 at 2:03 am

      🙏 Thanks for your specific feedback!

    • PassionforWriting

      October 19, 2020 at 2:15 am

      Yup, I second that!! Thumbsup

  • Novice

    October 18, 2020 at 11:53 pm

    Love this peice!!! You use short, simple sentences and they convey so much!

    • Mali

      October 19, 2020 at 2:03 am

      Thank you, Nov! I didn’t even realize they were short…you’re right.

  • HappiWriter

    October 19, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    <p>Wow!!</p><p>Wonderfully written.</p><p>Thanks for sharing, Mali.</p>

  • A Willing Pen

    October 28, 2020 at 4:54 pm

    Wow I just read this. It is spot on. I felt each word. You witnessed her connecting to something so you know there was potential for more. Her telling you that it’s hungry…she finally felt safe enough to welcome you to her inner world. You did great! Loved it.

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