I’d been waiting for over 40 minutes by the time I saw you at the bus station. Running out of Café Nero with my Americano and chocolate covered coffee beans, I’d hurried to the station at 2:00pm, on my way from Cheltenham back to southwest England. Now, you walk toward me, holding your daddy’s hand.
You look down, pulling your little shoes along. Your dark brown curls lose their buoyancy and your pink skirt seems to be a misfit. What’s your problem?
The bus still hasn’t come and I’ve waited over an hour. I do some stretches, walk back and forth, and come back to the same place, irritated. But then your mom and dad march toward me as you fall behind and your brother sits oblivious in his stroller.
Thinking about my own family, I start to wonder what the difference is between us. You, a little grumpy girl, dragged along by her dad, and me, a 23-year-old living abroad but missing mine.
I don’t know the answer, but what I can say is my dad never yelled at me in public. He never held me hard by the shoulders to tell me to stop crying. He never said “You need to f***ing shut up” while I had a meltdown in my pink skirt. I don’t know why I got my parents and you got yours.
If only I knew your name. Instead, you’re just the girl who will soon believe she’s only worth a man controlling her. You won’t accept that you’re beautiful or that it can be good to cry. You’ll be silent and submissive to the cigarettes, the drugs, the men and money, thinking it’s all you are. And you’ll hate yourself for it.
I’m sorry, but how could I take you when you walked by? That day at the station, you were still a lump of play-doh, but soon you’ll be my age, and it’s not your fault you’ll become dried out and bitter.