Innocense Lost

Dry November leaves blanketed the walkway.

She shuffled through, the way children often do —

the last of the morning stragglers, trying to get

to class before the final bell.

She hesitated for several seconds,

then reluctantly climbed the stairs —

her expression one of defiance.

As I reached out, tears filled her eyes —

thin, wiry arms held me tightly —

her hard exterior now broken.

Glancing up at a gray, pre-winter sky,

I fought back tears of my own —

mouthed an inaudible prayer to an all knowing God

then watched as she entered the building —

tough expression back in place as she readied herself

for the painful games of adolescence.

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