her bangs are crooked as though she took a dull scissor and cut and she looks young, with her wide-set eyes and freckled nose, 18 but she runs around with water guns and eats ice cream for lunch and watches cartoons.

“i was an oops child,” she tells me, this girl at the shelter. i’m sitting and listening, volunteering at a place that women run to. the kitchen is wide-open yellow and “it feels like a mansion,” she says, this girl who lived for years in foster care then with a father who could never find work.

“there’s no such thing as an oops,” i whisper, and she looks down and for a minute she seems old.

“i mean, i was unwanted,” she says slowly, and i feel little. how could i force her to say that? me trying to band-aid the world better when it has cancer.

she wants to live on a farm even though the foster children placed her on a cow when she was three and it threw her, and i see the marks from that fall. she shows me her drawings, a binder full of dress-designs and insect-sketches, and it’s all from her head and she hopes to go into design but she had to quit school when her father left her with her grandmother and she was evicted. “i’m homeless,” she tells me, scooping ice cream into a bowl.

we go for a walk, the dog named oliver leading, and everywhere is sky. i’m wrapped in toque and scarf and she buries her hands in her pockets. she tells me she has no friends and then she runs after oliver and i watch her, a lonely slip of a shadow against a very big world, and i want to hold her and tell her it’s all going to be okay and she’s very much loved and she’ll never have to be brave again.

we turn back, and she laughs into the dog’s fur. he licks her freckled face, and he’s done it for her. made her feel the special i never could.

*please, pray for this girl, who’s very much real? and instead of commenting today, would you mind clicking here and voting for this imperfect place? (thank you, humbly, my dear friends…)

1. link up a post (old or new) that you feel is ‘broken’ or ‘imperfect’ or somehow redemptive
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