Braver than you will know.

The room is long and connects to the open kitchen. In the kitchen that seems too white stands a woman, also in white. It looks like a nurses uniform, perhaps she works in a hospital. She is thin, scrawny even, except for the tiny little pot belly you can barely see. Her hair is very short, brown and curly, as if she sets it in curlers every night before bed. She holds a small cooking pot in one hand and appears to be yelling at the short, fat man standing at the other end of the lounge room. He is balding and grey, his face is red with rage. He seems to be huffing and puffing like a dragon, only he doesn’t shoot flames from his mouth, just his insecurities, his fears that his wife in white is having an affair and will leave him for another man.

That won’t happen though, not on his watch. Not for as long as he owns his rifle and he has bullets. He stands there, yelling back at the woman, venting his pent up anger and fear, his hatred. He is pointing his loaded rifle at her, threatening to shoot her if she doesn’t stop seeing this man. The barrel of the rifle seems to reach toward the woman standing in the kitchen, appearing longer than it is. The woman isn’t scared as she stares at the threatening barrel, at least not for herself. She is just angry and vehemently protesting the accusations.

Her eyes flicker to the left, that is where her fear crouches, hidden at the end of the lounge that sits against the wall next to the doorway that leads to the bedrooms. There’s a little girl with bright blue eyes and wavy brown hair. She is crouched in a tight ball staring at her Nanny in the kitchen with the pot. She can’t see her Poppy from where she crouches, but she can hear him. Hear his accusations and his threats. Knows he is holding a rifle pointed at her Nanny. The girl knows that if her Poppy pulls the trigger the bullet that flies out of the gaping mouth at the end of the barrel will kill her Nanny.

The little girl feels great fear for her Nanny. So afraid that her Nanny will get hurt and go away. If that happens she knows she won’t have anywhere to live because no one else wanted her. The sadness creeps up behind her eyes. She is scared of her grandparents, but at least she knows where she is, she knows where she lives. She has Somewhere. Poppy can’t shoot her Nanny. Resolve flickers in her eyes when she hears her Poppy threaten to kill her Nanny again. Her Nanny’s eyes flicker over to the girl again, not wanting the girl to be hurt. She also notices the flicker of determination in the little girls eyes and calls out for her to stay where she is. The little girl doesn’t listen. She knows her Poppy won’t shoot her, so she races over to stand in front of her Nanny. Her Nanny quickly holds the pot over the little girls heart. Her little heart is pumping with fear and adrenaline, but she is brave. So brave. She will not let him kill her Nanny.

She knows Poppy is so caught up in his drunken rage, so caught up in his story that he has forgotten the little girl is even there. He falters when he sees his grand daughter. His resolve weakens. The rage seems to deflate out of him and the edge in the air lessens. The little girl is on high alert, she is tense and scared and fiercely protective. Her Nanny is pushing her away. She doesn’t want to go. Her Nanny is persistent. She pushes the little girl toward the hallway that leads to the front door. The little girl turns around to protest, she is scared her Poppy will shoot her Nanny if she leaves. Her Nanny is telling her to go downstairs to Unit One where Dell lives and wait there. Her nanny promises she will be down soon and that everything will be OK.

The little girl doesn’t want to, but she doesn’t want to disobey her Nanny either or her Nanny might not want her anymore. Her Nanny might send her away if she doesn’t do as she is told. As she turns to leave the little girl notices a red patch of blood on her Nanny’s whiter than white uniform. It reminds the little girl that her Nanny might die and it brings the fear back full force. The girl doesn’t want to leave her Nanny but she knows she has to do as she is told. The little girl doesn’t look back as she races down the hall with tears streaming down her face. She doesn’t notice that her Poppy has put the rifle down as she flies out the front door. She doesn’t notice the shame on the old man’s face, the remorse. She doesn’t see him realise what almost happened. She doesn’t see him appear to age another decade in front of her eyes. All she does is carry her fear for her Nanny’s life down the stairs with the thought in her head that if she can just get to Dell, her Nanny would be safe. Everything would be OK.

The lady one flight down opens her door as the girl comes wailing down the stairs. She would have heard the argument going on above her. She asks the little girl if she is OK and if she would like to come inside until it is safe. The little girl stops dead in her tracks . She stops her wailing. She stops her tears. She packs all the feelings in to a little box and tells the lady she is fine and doesn’t want to go into her unit. The little girl rounds the corner to continue down the next flight of stairs keeping her emotions contained and to herself now. She continues to carry the thought in her head that if she could just make it down to Dell then everything would be alright. Because her Nanny told her so.
She made it to Dell’s. Everything did turn out alright in the end. No one died. No one sent the little girl away. She continued to have Somewhere. No one ever mentioned how brave that little girl was. Ever. It wasn’t until decades later, looking back, the little girl who had grown in to a dysfunctional, unworthy adult, realised just how brave she was that night. Just how brave she was. Just how brave she still is.

What do you think?