By Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

Little Girl by Jennifer Valk

You once asked me what it would take to ease 

the burdens and sorrows of the little 10-year-old 

girl living deep within myself.

I scoffed. 

Because – really.

Why would I have an answer to that?

Little 10-year-old me?

I haven’t thought of her in years.

At least two or three decades.

She’s locked up inside that old bedroom her stepmother kept her in 

when she mouthed off one too many times.

That little poppet always asking questions that no one wants to answer.

She’s probably sitting in the center of her bed, cross-legged,

(What used to be called “Indian-Style” before everything became PC)

Hands in her lap, waiting for the footsteps by the door to march away

Before darting quietly over to her stepsister’s never-read books to 

Steal one and while away the time until her next scolding.

Inside her young, battered heart, another crack – just a small fracture – 

Mind you – not noticeable from the outside, but just enough to make her

Take a deep breath and push back the silent tears that want to fall.

Damp eyes that could be explained away by a particularly pungent onion if one were nearby.

That child.

She never leaves her room.

Over the years, the burdens of abuse – from the tiniest name calling 

To the outright gaslighting and bullying;

The everyday stress and toil,

The crude pain and outright punishment;

All of it is pushed into that room.

Placed on that little girls’ shoulders.

What will it take to make her free?

What will it take to relieve those burdens and sorrows?

Noting that you will give now that she’s an adult.

It hurts, right?

But you were given chances – though you didn’t take them.

Excuses made for lack of phone calls. 

The lack of visits.

One might say they were good excuses too

If not for the favoritism shown to others.

I believe that it’s never too late to fix a relationship.

Forgiveness is, of course, important. 

Forgetting won’t happen.

Will you be forgiven…?


Not now anyway.

But maybe eventually.

If only to free that 10-year-old little girl.

Maybe then, will your question stop haunting my mind.

My heart.

My soul.