Who is the girl hiding behind the rock? and why are my shoulders hurting so much?
The girl was left in charge of seven younger siblings. She was maybe ten or elevent at most, her mother had left the house before supper (where was the father?), probably to cross the street for a drink with Doroth and Al, the couple who were also kind enough to let the girl play dress up and give her real grown-up tea, and who she helped out by stacking logs for their fireplace in winter.
She was a good girl. She got lots of praise for helping others. It made her feel important and loved. But that night, her sister was fighting her, pulling her hair, scratching her cheek, her brothers were wrestling, the house was in chaos, seemingly out of control.
No one would listen to her. It was dark outside. She was trying to instill order but it felt hopeless, no use. So she decided to run away. She took a bag of cookies and some slices of bread in a paper bag, and left a short note for her mother, sticking it in her sheared lamb's wool coat pocket, where it hung in the vestibule. She ran outside, up the hill behind the house through the trees, and found a big rock, solid and house-like to sit behind, waiting for the car headlights to come up the long winding driveway below.
After a while (was it only 15 minutes?) she began to feel cold. She didn't like being outside in the woods in the dark. She had stopped crying and sniffling, and decided to go back down inside. She sheepishly removed the note from her mother's coat pocket. She hadn't eaten the cookies or bread so left them in the kitchen. Her mother does not remember leaving her alone with a one-year-old, a two year old, a three or four year old, a five year old and a six and seven year old. Oh and one eight year old. How could she have done that, even for an hour? "I must have just stepped out for ten minutes to go to the store," she said, trying to recall.
But the girl, now a woman, remembers feeling time slipping by slowly like an eternity. It was too much to handle. It was too long. It was a feeling of abnadonment and of betrayal of trust. It was too much responsiblity for one small girl trying to be good. Who had no choice and could not speak up or say no, I am too young. Don't leave me alone with them. She had tried to leave but the world was too big, too scary, she had no where else to go to, no other adult or friend of the family, or aunts and uncles to ask for help. They had no one to help them. Isolated and alone, with the overwhelmed mother and absent, hardworking father.
I found this in my journal, written a few weeks ago, and I think I know who the little girl is, and why my shoulders have been so sore.
The body never lies.