Once upon a time, long ago in a land far, far away, there lived a wee golden-haired girl with a big dimple in her left cheek and a mischievous twinkle in her eye. The universe stretched before her with promise and wonder. Those twinkling eyes observed, missing little, taking it all in. Her antenna was fully extended. Intuitive and sensitive, she gathered complex data almost before she could raise her tiny body on chubby arms. She heard things that were not spoken. She knew things that were never verbally expressed or explained. She felt things others didn’t know existed. She was in tune with a silent language, aware of a different dimension, and could touch the invisible. This wee child had the misfortune of being born in the state of chaos under the sign of the times to parents who were ill-prepared to welcome her. She realized quickly as an infant that crying in need brought an angry and unwanted response. Colicky initially, she soon learned to swallow her tears and to deny all but her most basic requirements. By the time she was toddling about on wobbly knees, she had already started to become a shadow. The laughter and sparkle had already begun to depart from her hazel green eyes. Cold reality greeted her each morning. Harsh, terrifying darkness cloaked her at night. Though her language skills developed early and precociously, she struggled to decode the language of love. Love hit. But the words spoken contradicted the fist and slap. Love screamed. Love was angry and rejecting. Though the words voiced told a different story. Love walked away. Love judged. It hated. It let you down and beat you up and took more from you than you could possibly give. It required your destruction. At least that was the way it was spoken in her house, where she lived in the state of chaos. Love was the author of chaos. Then came a day when love took everything. That was the day all life drained from her once sparkling eyes. That was the day she learned love touched in inappropriate and awful ways, fondling, demanding demeaning sexual acts, molesting and raping. By the time the little golden-haired girl entered the great institution of school, she was wary and fearful. Big people were sources of stress because pleasing them was so intensely difficult. If not impossible. She learned to stay quiet and to keep to herself. To avoid encounters. To do what her lessons required to the very best of her ability and to keep her head down. She was a shadow living in a shadow land. A place where nothing was as it seemed. Where two realities crashed and clashed and smashed into a whirlwind of destruction. The whirlwind came to live in her heart. The little girl learned painful emotions caused very real and physical pain and this endless pain became her constant companion. It swirled through her, into the deepest parts of her being, and as it took up permanent residence, it ripped her to shreds. The little girl learned to smile on the outside while she was being torn apart within. At long last, she completed all the assignments that school required of her and she left her home in the state of chaos. She believed the journey of life that stretched out before her would bring her to a happier land. Her path would be filled with wonderful adventure that would lead her to a joyous, warm, safe harbor. And in that harbor, wrapped in the sunshine and security of the new land, she believed she would be able to find a home. A home without so much darkness and unending pain. A home where laughter tinkled and echoed happily off the walls, where she would be wrapped in warm, comfy blankets of acceptance and caring, where pillows of love and desire would provide soft, tender support. In this new home she envisioned, she would be acceptable. She would matter. Someone would care about her, speaking a love language that was ever so very different from the one that she had heard spoken all during her lost childhood. In the new land, there would surely be little to no contradiction of words and actions. And so, with a little dream in her heart and a smidgen of hope in her pocket, she took the first big step and left the only home she had known to discover far and distant domains that would, she was praying, offer her refuge. That smidgen of hope, of necessity, provided sustenance for more years than she would have thought possible. She clung to it, her light preserver. Until it vanished, as if it had never been. By that point, numbness had enveloped her for decades. She was living her life more dead than alive, eating the dust of her broken dreams. Smelling the evaporating scent of the tiny bit of expectation that yet remained. The refuge she sought and once upon a time long ago thought she found proved to be an illusion. A mirage in the desert. Love was a sun in that desert that shone all around her, but not on her. The lack left her parched. She tasted dust in her mouth and it flowed through her veins. Shattered. Alone. Unwanted. Perishing for lack of a drop of water. A tender touch. An accepting word. A helping, caring hand. And then, when hope was completely lost, she suddenly found she could go no further. Her golden hair had long ago darkened and then turned gray. Her body, reacting to her environment over the years, had been nothing but skin and bones, then wrapped in layers of protective fat, only to become skin over bones once more. Her eyes were dull. Her emotions too hot and painful to touch. She had become old. Withered. Skin slack. Weary. The end of her journey was in sight and the weight of all the passing, fruitless, hurtful years left her wondering at the emptiness of her world. The harshness. Her paltry, frivolous dreams from her youth rose up to mock her. Had she really had such lofty dreams, dreams of love and security? Had she ever truly believed something good would come her way? Had she ever actually been that big of a fool? And so, she sat in the sand, no tears left to weep or swallow. No strength left with which to stand. Or crawl. Waiting for the inevitable end…and end that was all too visible in the hazy distance. But a distance that was no longer far away. Close. Very close. Breathing its hot breath down upon her. Reminding her that she was out of time. To die without ever having lived, this is the haunting end that awaits her. To cease to exist without anyone ever having been thankful she had been a part of their journey. To have left no mark. To have never mattered. Or been wanted. She sat in the sand, without hope or sustenance. Defeated. Death would not be so horrible if one could stand at the end of life and proudly proclaim it had been lived well. The little imp of a girl believed she would be able to do this. The old woman she had become could only look back with regret and peer forward with deep dread and sadness. And that is the end of the story of the wee golden-haired, hazel-eyed, abused girl with a dimple in her cheek who came from the land of chaos.