Character: Mr. Smith / Erin
“What's the matter with her? "
Smith looked at Erin questioningly. The children were playing with an old ball. They were serious and cautious but at least they were playing again. They were at home on the roads, in the woods, alone, helpless, abused. So many children and they couldn't safe all. But at least some of them. Here in Thunder Mountain they could feel safe for the first time in their short live, they could learn to be children.
A little girl with long, black curls had caught Smith's interest. She was sitting alone near a corner, curled up like a cat. She didn't move, only her eyes were looking around anxiously.
"She came here some weeks ago but she doesn't seem to open up. She still refuses to speak. She doesn't eat. She sleeps fitfully and wakes up crying every night. It's hard to endure. I would like to help her, but I'm at loss what to do!"
Smith eyed the little girl. Finally he went over to the corner and knelt down in front of her. She backed out even more, her eyes dark and scared. Smith smiled and cocked his head a bit.
"Como te llamas," he asked softly.
The girl blinked almost confused.
"Me llamo Smith. Y tu?"
Silence for minutes. Smith didn't move, just smiling at her. Suddenly she exhaled deeply.
Barely a whisper.
“Me llamo Maria."
Then she burst into tears. Smith caught her in his arms and stroked her back. He knew these were not tears of panic but of relief.
Two hours later he was still crouching in the corner, the girl, Maria, in his arms. She had cried for a long time. Then she started to calm down and fall into a deep, exhausted sleep, her hand to his shirt.
Smith looked up when Erin carefully approached them.
"It's okay,"he whispered.
“She will get better now.”
Erin nodded. It was such a relief to see her in this relaxed state.
“We could try to bring her to bed,” she suggested.
But Smith shook his head.
“No. I will hold her until she will wake up again.”
“Might be better,” Erin agreed.
“She trusts you. What luck, that you can speak a little bit Spanish. Where did you know it from?”
Smith kept quiet for a moment.
"I can't,” he finally said.
“What do you mean?”
Erin stared at him confused.
"You can't be serious, Smith. You have talked to her all the time. How could you be able to do this without knowledges in Spanish?”
"I've just opened my mouth ... and the words were coming out!"
revised March 2015