Stumbling Block

They were standing there so still I didn’t even see them until I almost stumbled over the smallest one. I had gotten so used to only being with certain types of people of a certain age group that I had all but forgotten these miniature versions of people existed.

The smallest one looked up at me with big eyes and a dirty face. A type of alarm formed in her eyes, putting me on notice the smallest reaction from me could ignite her into tears. I froze in my steps, careful not to move. A grubby hand reached out to me; pouted lips firmly quivering and the tears remaining hidden for the moment.

I was frightened. I didn’t know what to do.

Luckily, the middle one stepped forward and pulled the smallest one back with a simple tug of her hand. The littlest one looked at her, shocked yet accepting. Then she seemed suddenly comforted. The biggest one remained a few feet behind them, watching.

“Don’t mind Amelia,” said the middle one, “She’s new to all of this.”

“What do you mean?” I asked her, “all of this?”

“You know . . . life.”

The biggest one remained silent and looked away, focusing on nothing and everything at the same time. The middle one shifted her focus back to the littlest one, placing her hand on her tiny back.

“Let’s get you back to Mom. It’s okay.”

With those words, Amelia, the littlest one, looked back at me. Her eyes were still wide and on the verge of tears, but suddenly they lit up and she relaxed her pursed lips and smiled at me. She turned back to the middle one and the trio walked away without looking back.

I continued on my way, carefully looking where I stepped before I turned every corner.

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