Yesterday I was driving home from the grocery store when I saw something unusual. At the traffic light I looked over to see a young girl running down the sidewalk in dirty wet socks, a sleeveless shirt and no coat. I rolled my window down and shouted from three lanes over, "Honey, do you need help?" She was crying, red faced, cold with dirty scratches all over her arms. "No." She yelled back. Obviously, this kid needed help. I called out again, "Where are your shoes?" She just shook her head and buried her face in her hands. At that point she had reached the cross walk and was waiting to cross the street. The light turned and I had to go, but this was not a grown-up, this was a child and I couldn't ignore her. I pulled around into a parking lot just after the light and go out of my car in time to see her crossing the street and coming my direction.
This time I didn't give her the option to receive help, I just walked over to her and said, "Honey, let me help you. Let me help you, what happened?" She just started blubbering about how "He hits me and my brother. I hate him..." I tried to calm her down. I managed to find out that she was 11 and her name was Chloe. She wasn't making a whole lot of sense but was visibly cold so I explained to her that I was a teacher and that I would help her and told her to get in the car with me. She did and I brought her home with me.
In my head I was freaking out. I'd never done this sort of thing before. I totally reacted out of a mothering instinct I suppose. I had no idea what I was doing and it's a good thing my roommate wasn't home because I don't think she would have appreciated me bringing a runaway home.
Once we got to my place I told her to throw out her dirty socks and I gave her a clean pair, I found some shoes of mine for her to wear and gave her a sweatshirt. I sat her down on the couch and she began to calm down. I just kept telling her it was going to be okay, (not having any idea what that meant) but knowing that's what she needed to hear. I let her read some magazines and walked away and went to another other room to call the police.
In five minutes I had three police officers in my living room. It turned out that the person who was hurting her was not a man, but another child, which was a huge relief, but the situation was still really bad. Apparently her mother left her father for an old boyfriend and he's not a nice man. She said that he has never hurt her, but obviously he's a harsh man and she desperately wants to be with her real father.
It was all really intense. When all was said and done, the cops had to take her home, she hugged me and thanked me. I felt terrible letting her go, but I couldn't keep her.... I can however pray for her, forever. And I will, and hope that by casting my bread upon the water, someday, even if it's in eternity, it will come back to me.