Innocence Lost

Had another night of little sleep.  Couldn’t stop thinking about Kerry.  Dear Lord, please protect her.

I saw her yesterday at the school where I mentor a student.  As I approached the cafeteria door, I heard the muffled voices of children.  Upon opening the door, the thundering crash of excited chattering pounded my ears.

“Can I have a dollar?”

It was Kerry, whom I had met a week earlier.  How could I say no to those big brown eyes magnified by her pink plastic framed glasses?  Her wavy mousy brown hair limply fell to her shoulders.  I wondered how her small, frail frame had the strength to hold her up.

“What are you going to do with it?” I said.

“I’m going to get a Gatorade.  I really need one.”

I reached into my purse and gave her a dollar.  Off she ran to the drinks, briefly turning around to yell, “Thank you” in her tiny voice.

I was sitting in the cafeteria last week when I heard that voice beside me.

“Do you want to see my muscle?”

I looked at the little girl seated to my right.  She seemed to be older than her question.

“OK,” I said.

She raised her skinny arm, Popeye style.

“I’ve been working out.  I started yesterday.  My Dad let me use his weights.”

“Oh, that’s good,” I said.

“My name’s Kerry.  What’s yours?”

“I’m Miss Judy.”

“Nice to meet you.”

“I live with my Daddy now,” she said.  “I’m not in foster care anymore.  They were mean.”

“Well good for you.”

“Yeah, I used to live with my Mom.  When I was little they put a gun to my head, but didn’t pull the trigger.  So I went to foster care.”

I looked into her soft eyes, wondering if she was telling me the truth, or if she just told stories to get attention.

“A guy touched me down there.”  She pointed down.

“A boy or a man?”

“A man.  My Mom’s friend.  I didn’t like Ed.  He was mean.  He put a lighter down there and I have a scar.  But he didn’t go to jail ‘cause the police couldn’t understand what I was saying.  I was little, but I remember.”

She spoke with a speech impediment, and I strained to understand her.  I knew she had some kind of mental handicap.  I wondered if she was brain damaged as a baby, maybe dropped or shaken or thrown.

“What grade are you in?” I said.

“Sixth, but I’m supposed to be in eighth.”

“Maybe not,” I said.  “Maybe you’re right where you need to be.”

“I’m going to be a missionary.  I pray all the time,” she said.

“Does your Daddy take you to church?”

“No, but I read my Bible.  Every night before I go to sleep.”

“I read the Bible, too,” I said.  “If you want to be a missionary, then you will be.  And you’ll be a good one.”

“I had a dream that a baby got thrown out of a car window and died.  Then it was in the paper a few days later.  I think God just wanted me to see that.”

I remembered the news story well, and relived the cringing of my stomach with that horrible mind picture.

“I can’t eat this pudding,” she said, “but I don’t want to throw it away.  That would be a waste, and I believe in not wasting things.  I’d like to give it to a homeless person.  Would you give it to a homeless person for me?”

“I don’t know if I’ll see a homeless person today, but I can try.”

The digital clock on the TV screen hanging from the ceiling blinked to 12:00.  The entire cafeteria erupted with more ear-crushing chatter as everyone rose and started toward their next class.  I stood up with the pudding in my hand, its massive weight growing.

“It was nice meeting you, Kerry.  God bless you.”

I drove home, fruitlessly looking for a homeless person along the way.  I couldn’t throw the pudding away.  Kerry said that would be wasteful.  So I put it in the fridge, sorry I had failed my mission.

I couldn’t get her out of my mind.  Her wide eyes, her tiny voice, the picture of sweet innocence she never knew. 

You opened my eyes, Kerry, and pierced my heart.

7 Responses to “Innocence Lost”

  1. Jennette Says:

    ohoh my!!!Just read your blog!!I have tears coming down!!I want to meet this little Girl…You should write a book…

    love ya,


  2. Judy Says:

    Thanks, Jennette. I pray for her every time I think of her.

  3. Don Jones Says:

    Thanks for sharing your stories Judy. You have a wonderful talent. Peace Don

  4. Robyn Says:

    You are amazing at writing. You’ve captured the perfect word in describing this incident. I’m thinking, “if I wrote this, I’d have taken twice as long and not communicated half as well”. Let us know more about Kerry and how you will impact her life….forever.

  5. Robyn Says:

    Great job girl Whaoo!!!!

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