I’m told I have an inner child. It’s a popular term; just pick up any book about inner healing, abuse survivors, or such and you’ll quickly see just how accepted this thinking is. And I suppose there’s some truth to it. I’m vaguely aware of her. She flits around the cobwebbed corners of my brain, always staying just out of sight, out of reach. Crouching behind various objects to camouflage her presence. Blending in with the general traffic in my mind to hide her identity. She’s annoying. I try to avoid her. But I think she’s venturing closer, letting me catch sight of her for a few seconds longer, before she ducks and hides herself away again. I feel her standing behind me and off to the side. I hear her breathing. She is there, just out of reach, watching. Waiting. There seems to be an invisible, fragile connection between us. Not that I really want to admit it. Not that I want to have anything to do with her. I am antsy when I become aware of her. SHE is the one “everything” happened to. SHE is the one who broke, who was fragmented, so wounded, she could no longer venture from my bedroom. She made me go on without her. I had to do what had to be done and I’m pretty angry with her for abandoning me just so she could lay in a gooey mess in my room. I hurt too! I could have used a friend! I needed her support…but she caved. Left me to carry the weight, to plaster a smile on my face, to act like nothing was wrong. To keep walking. Alone. Yeah, she was mortally injured. But so what! So was I! I had to pick up the pieces every time my father used me and keep going. After he finished with me and told me to get cleaned up and come out to the kitchen for some nice homemade hot chocolate, I’m the one who had to go out there and act like nothing had happened. She got to feel her pain. I had to push mine down over and over and over again. I had to lock it all away. I had to survive. She was a weak puke. She still is, as far as I’m concerned. She abandoned me when I needed her the most. But then, I did leave her behind… She’s a little thing. Shy. Quiet. Never smiles. Sometimes I watch parts of the movie of what happened to her, playing the broken pieces across the screen in my brain. But I have to look away. I can’t watch too much or for very long. I might start to feel her pain. I might start to feel some compassion. No. I must be strong. I must not let her in…or out. I have to be tough with her. It’s the only way I can keep going. For surely, if I empathized, if I softened my heart even a degree, she would melt me and I would be destroyed. Her pain is too much to bear. Her wounds are far too ugly and horrid. Her gore is everywhere as it is. To touch her? To let her touch me? No! I would be undone. I clearly remember the day I left her in my room. Yet again, I knew I had to go out and act normal. Join the rest of the family. I gave her a sideways glance and was amazed at the blood, the carnage, the broken bones and tiny fragmented pieces of her scattered all over the room. There was a larger pile, a bloody mass, that marked the spot where the bulk of her rested, still oozing odd colored fluids. But I couldn’t stay to comfort her. And there was obviously no patching her up. She was damaged beyond recognition, so the band-aids I could have offered her wouldn’t have come close to saving her. She needed intensive care. Massive resuscitation. IV’s, emergency surgery, intervention and every kind of life-saving technique available couldn’t have put all the pieces back together again. She was a gonner. So I glanced at her, then turned my head forward, walked out of my bedroom and closed the door. Left her to bleed her rivers of pain. Left her. I did what I had to do. She died. But she lives, if only barely. Why she keeps hanging around, I don’t know. I think she wants to be friends, crazy child. I think she is afraid of me. And I guess I’m afraid of her too. We do this crazy dance. We advance, we retreat, we twirl and duck and leap and slide by each other. All without acknowledging the other. Pretending we don’t notice. Mostly keeping to our own sides, rarely trespassing on the others territory. We co-exist without intruding. Conversation is out of the question. Doesn’t she realize that? We’ve made it work for years. Why she is trying to catch my eye now, I’m not certain. But I feel her. I hear her tapping on the walls of the shell I’ve erected, though she flits away if I turn in her direction. Her pain is bleeding into mine. I can hear her broken heartbeat, weak though it is. What am I to do with her? What is she trying to do to me? Why is she whispering my name after all these years?