My old friend,
I’ve come to talk to you again …”
The song plays incessantly in my head, sparked awake by the words of a pre-teen who shared her nighttime worries with me.
She finds it difficult to sleep. Her ears strain to pick up any errant sound: A car’s brakes, a slammed door, people’s voices, steps, a distant bark. She’s afraid they’ve come.
She’s been told she shouldn’t worry. She’s done nothing wrong. Yet there are those who hadn’t, and still had loved ones taken. And she’s not from here. Not really. Not from birth, anyway.
What if the rules change and she’s deemed “returnable”?
What if they keep her away from her parents, send her back to where she’d come from? What if she cannot find the words, if they not let her explain that she is finally, finally, home?
She lies in bed at night. Listening. Making and discarding plans. Fretting in the dark.
Maybe she’ll hide. But where? Someone at school said they sometimes have dogs. She loves dogs. Police dogs — beautiful and focused and proud — never used to scare her. They do now. At their handlers’ command, they can hunt her down. She’s seen it. On TV. In her mind. Now her dreams.
“I listen to the sounds in the silence,” she whispered, eyes bright. “And I wait. Even in my dreams, I listen … and I cry when they come.”
For The Daily Post