Don't blame yourself. No one sees it at first. She's a fifteen-year-old girl on that frozen park bench, sitting on her hands to keep them from getting just as cold as her nose. Your eyes catch sight of the way her hair is dampened and unkempt. Her clothes are torn, hanging off of her body to reveal the story on her skin that she wished no one would ever read. And her face...it's covered in the grime of the city's malice. Did she fall? No one sees it. Her heart is cracked and bloody. The red consequence that pours from it is becoming frozen in these conditions. If she were to tell you that she is growing cold, you would reply you were too. It is, indeed, time for the leaves to take their last leap from the arms of the near-barren trees. Clouds should soon stop crying and instead begin to throw fistfuls of white during their seasonal temper tantrums. But then she'd take you by surprise. She would correct you and say, “No, from the inside. It isn't the outside world causing frost upon my skin. It's my heart, a glacial virus causing my light to fade out into an eternal darkness.” It's all happening so fast in front of everyone's eyes, and still, no one sees it. She didn't fall as once presumed. She was pushed. No one saw it. You didn't either. Not at first. Not until her heart - which had been freezing since he'd first laid a hand on her - cracked. Not until it made a sound so deafening that no one was able to hear another. It was as if lightening struck the ground directly in front of you, and finally, you stopped to pay attention. You were alert. You were looking around for an answer to the question no one has understood: "Why?" And finally, you had the morality to focus on investigating what lay beneath the silence that had followed the explosion of ice from her heart. You realized that she was alone. No mother. No father. No sibling in sight. When you approached her, feet crunching atop the chunks of ice that had flown from her insides like daggers - warnings to stay away - you saw the dirty tears staining her cheeks. You were left to wonder what had happened. Why was she so cold? Maybe she didn't fall. She didn't just stumble because she was clumsy. She was shoved into the calloused, tainted hands of the world. And now you stand in front of her. She sits still on the bench, staring straight ahead with no life left in her eyes. Your chest is level with her face. She doesn't move. You could tell that whoever this girl was is no longer here. A person once known is now a person someone knew. The tears are taking turns rolling down the flushed, red tinted hills named cheeks, but her face is becalmed. A snowflake fallen from the sky lands on her cheek and turns to ice instead of melting away. In a whisper, you ask her what's wrong. She emotionlessly makes eye contact. Your heart clenches and your stomach drops at the visible vacancy inside of her. “I wandered too far,” she replies. “Mother told me the streets weren't safe. She told me not to cross the bridge...I did. I crossed." She looks away again. "I can't go back.” You ask her why. You offer to walk home with her. She could get cleaned up. All better. She'll be fine tomorrow once she gets a new pair of socks and a warm bath. But she rejects you, pushes you away. She says she knows now that strangers are not to be trusted. She can't cross the bridge. For if she does, she will let the wind push her off. She will beg the breeze to be strong enough to cause the ground to disappear from underneath her. She will hit the ground and fall into a pile of beautiful crushed bones and pain. It sounds beautiful to her, anyway. Don't blame yourself. No one sees it at first. Not even you. Maybe you were distracted or just wished to mind your own business. But if you held the candle a little closer, you could see that what she really yearned for was a hand to hold. She was manhandled. Used. Who she used to be was shattered into a thousand pieces and brushed under the rug for no person to ever see again. If they would just look a little closer, they'd see that she is crying out for help. She is not begging to be looked at. She is not begging for the eyes of those around her. She is begging for someone to pull her up from the top before it's too late. She is screaming for someone to toss the rope down before she's stuck in The Pit forever, all alone as she grows colder and colder from the inside out. All alone until she becomes absolutely nothing.
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