The Little Urchin Girl
February 9, 2017, 1:11 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Let me tell you a story, dear reader.

Once upon a time there was a town; a dusty old town that was falling apart. The houses needed new roofs, the inns were lice infested, the library barely held any books.

All of the men of the town, everyday, would meet in the center of the town, by the fountain that had long gone dry.

They would argue for hours. They would blame one another for the dilapidated state of their town. Some days it would get violent, there would be shoving, pushing, punching. Every evening they would drag their bruised egos back to their sad little houses and dream about how they might come up with ideas at tomorrow’s meeting.

One very non-eventful morning, one very ordinary morning, the men were at it again. One was suggesting they just leave the town how it was and move on to find a new place to live. Other’s seemed to tentatively warm to this idea. “Yes”, they said. “Let’s set this place on fire and start all over again.”

It was then, it was in this very insignificant moment, that a small voice tried to cut through the loud buzz of men making plans. “Excuse me,” the small voice said. No one even turned their head. No one even seemed to hear the voice. A second attempt, men being pushed aside until it sounded much louder and in the center of the conglomerate, “EXCUSE ME”, the small voice tried again.

This time it worked. The men stopped talking and looked around at one another to see  who had made such a racket. Then, their eyes cast down to where a very small girl was standing. There was nothing remarkable about her. Her cheeks were rosy, her hands were dirty, and her dress was torn and a size too small. Silence fell over the group for a few moments. No one introduced themselves, no one asked her to introduce herself.

Seeing that pleasantries were not going to be a luxury for her, this small girl cleared her throat and said in an unwavering voice, “But won’t you eventually ruin the new town the same way you ruined this one?”

Silence. Dead silence.

The men looked at one another. Obviously this thought had not crossed anyone’s mind.

But, surely such a revelation couldn’t come from a small, dirty girl and not one of the prestigious and respected men of the mob.

They all, silently, decided to pretend they hadn’t heard her. Conversation picked back up, perhaps a bit louder to make a point to the little urchin left standing in the dust kicked up from the shuffling feet.

Setting her jaw very square and very strongly, she climbed up onto the top of the fountain, gripping on to the vines that sprang from it now, instead of clean water. She carefully balanced herself, and enjoyed the view for a moment.

These men, this clump of clods, looked like a group of pigeons or hens, wandering around aimlessly, pecking here and there, and making an awful racket of it.

Clearing her throat again, she thought for a moment what to say; she knew they had to be important words. Loud and powerful words that she would have to dig from deep down inside of her. Words from a girl who, even at such a young age, had grown tired of depending on this group of pigeons, this mob of men.

“You can fix it!”, she cried.

One or two of the men looked up at her, pausing a moment and then turning back to their conversations.

“I SAID YOU CAN FIX IT.”, she tried again, so loud that she almost lost her balance.

One of the more rotund men shot a look at her, brow furrowed. “Silence, girl.” The emphasis was on the word “girl” but all she heard was the command for silence.

She crouched down for a moment on her perch and baffled at the concept. How can anyone be silent? How can anyone even command that of a person? That’s like telling someone to stop breathing, stop scratching an itch, stop thinking and wishing and planning. She was enraged, inspired, indignant and proud all at the same time.

She jumped down from that fountain, back onto the ground in the midst of the men. She tried again and again to get their attention. She yelled, shrieked, jumped up and down. “SILENCE” was the only acknowledgement she got, over and over and over again.

Nevertheless, she persisted. She placed two fingers between her lips and let loose a shrill of a whistle.

The men, alarmed, stopped and looked at her again.  Before they had a chance to turn back, to ignore or dismiss her and bellow “SILENCE”, she tried again.

“You can fix this. This is your town. You just need leaders. You need to assign jobs. You need to make men responsible for work and then allow them pride when they do a job well done.”, she said, maybe a bit too quickly–afraid to be silenced yet again. She breathed a sigh of relief when she was done speaking.

The men –suddenly the group didn’t seem so large, so ominous–blinked at her, jaws on the dusty ground. Then, quietly from the back of the group, a pigeon uttered, “It could work”.

How could this be?  They didn’t know how this small little thing…a child, a girl…could have saved their town within minutes.

One of the men stepped forward, taking off his hat and kneeling down before her so they were eye to eye, spoke loudly, for all to hear, “What is your name, child?”

The girl’s lips parted into a smile, showing teeth that were missing, but promised to appear some day. A perfect smile. A future.

“My name is Elizabeth,” she said proudly, looking around at all of the men who had ignored and dismissed her.

“And I will not be silenced.”



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