When he doesn’t know better

Dahlia hugged her legs to her chest and buried her face into her knees. She stayed like that, hoping no one would find her today. There was nowhere else to go, not that she wanted to go anywhere. She didn’t know what to do anymore.

“Hello?”

Her fingers pressed into her arms, almost to the point where it hurt. Then she peered up in the darkness. The boy that stood before her looked like that woman who was always coming to the orphanage. The woman seemed nice, but adults were like that. Adults always seemed nice. Then you got to know them.

She swallowed. “‘lo.”

“What are you doing?”

The way he spoke made her feel like he came from an entirely different world. Like he was an adult. She didn’t like it. “Sitting.”

The boy nodded. “Oh. Okay.”

Just like that, he sat down next to her. She wanted to tell him to go, but she wouldn’t. She never did anything like that. Because that was always the opportunity others took in order to tell her what she was or wasn’t allowed to do.

For a while, all was quiet but for the sounds of the children outside of the closet. The thin light that came into their crevasse lit upon the string wrapped around his fingers. It was made of rainbows. He held out his fingers and the string attached to them.

“Pinch the x’s.”

She couldn’t stop herself. She reached out to play with the string.

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