The Deluge

IX   

GEOFF RUSHED OVER immediately from the kitchen, picking up a woollen blanket from the back of a chair. Anna passed the girl into Geoff’s arms, who wrapped her up in the blanket before placing her closer to the fire. The girl sat there in silence, staring blankly into the flames, shivering beneath the blanket. Anna knelt down beside the girl’s legs, resting a hand on her knee. They were gathered around the girl, careful that she had enough space, but curious of the events that had led her to the house in her current condition. The girl, however, would not speak. Her reticent posture made her look smaller, the blanket wrapped broadly around her small frame. This in turn made her eyes more luminous as the reflection of the fire, abstracted into bright pools of light, moved across her irises. Her eyes contained and revealed the fear she felt, otherwise hidden by her reticent demeanour.
   Karen turned to Richard and suggested quietly he run a bath for the girl. Richard obliged and made his way upstairs, secretly glad to get away from the uneasy atmosphere. Anna, still at the girl’s feet asked her: ‘Would you like to tell us your name?’

The girl did not reply. She would only move her eyes towards to group, then draw them straight back to the fire. Anna continued to gently press questions on the girl, though she did not know what to ask or how to give comfort with words alone.
   ‘Would you like to know my name? My name is Anna, and this is Karen and Geoff. They live here. Where do you live? Is it very far?’
   Still the girl said nothing. Geoff, at this point, decided he would try himself:’Is there a way of contacting your mother? You know she’s probably wondering where you are. I’m sure she’s very worried about you and would be glad to know you’re safe.’
   Tears began to fill the girl’s eyes. Her stony expression turned a hot reddish colour, as though the fire had taken immediate effect, smarting her cheeks now wet with salty tears. Anna rose up without thinking and held the girl. The child did not lean in to her grasp but sat there, crying numbly.

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