The Girl

This winter, when the world awaits the birth of Christ, she’ll be six.
All she knows is a loving father and a remote and unstable mother.
Also the trio is awaiting the another family member, a baby brother.

Then one day, near All Saints Day, everything shifts.
Fathers gone, first in the hospital. Everyone keeps a good face.
The girl is not allowed to visit. Then…

Chaos ensues.

Mother screams and cries.
Fathers gone, inexplicably gone.
The girl searches everywhere, to no avail.

She tries to comfort her mother with her favorite teddy.
– We shan’t cry anymore, mother says.
So the girl doesn’t.
Instead she helps pack boxes and haul their life away.
Mother keeps crying.

– You have to take care of your mother and coming baby brother, the Aunts say.
So the girl does.
Mother keeps her face on during the day. But at night she cries. 

The baby cries to, but the girl learns how to mix formula and bounce a baby.

You have to be a big girl now, everyone says.
So the girl figures out how; bills are paid, pension stretched beyond belief, food cooked, clothes cleaned, diapers changed, house cleaned, toddlers watched over. 

Mother still keeps her face on, but nobody’s home.
At night she cries, drink gin and tonic.

-Don’t tell anyone about this or they’ll take your brother away from us, her mother says.
So the girl keeps her mouth shut.

She’s barely eight, with the responsibility for a whole family on her shoulders.


Also posted to Saana’s prompt at Poets United: Midweek Motif ~ A Million Years Howl When Voices Whisper Among The Trees

11 thoughts on “The Girl

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  1. Oh I have known a little girl like that, and for all the same reasons. She is grown now, and doing well – but angry. Luckily, she is a wonderful mother to her children. She says she is giving them the childhood she never had.

  2. This is a nightmare story, indeed, and unfortunately it is often a true story. Your details bring it alive. I feel for the little girl and hope she has time to read and write to her hearts content. ( It also makes me think of how unhappy Wendy must have been in Peter Pan to be sentenced to a life of caring for little boys who refuse to grow up!)

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