A Tale of Two Photos

Yesterday, I kept looking at the picture on the right and felt something was wrong. It took me a while until I could put my finger on it. Abigail was actually smiling. With her mouth, with her eyes, with her heart. Naturally. Spontaneously. And this was a sight I wasn’t used to seeing. The picture on the left is the Abigail I’ve been seeing for the last year. To put it simply, she’d forgotten how to smile. The upward curves of her mouth are forced. There is no sparkle in the eyes. She’s going through the motions. Looking at the photos side by side, it hits me what the past year has done to her. There have been no hysterics, dramatic tantrums or uncontrollable sobbing at the thought of going to school everyday. She has just been silently suffering. She has been let down by adults whom she thought she could trust. She has been abandoned by girls whom she thought were her friends. She has been betrayed by professionals who said they would look after her. But within two days of leaving that school, the old Abigail is clearly returning. There are still flickers of the dejected, worried, little girl who used to trudge reluctantly into the schoolyard everyday. She is still wary of putting herself into situations where she will be with more than one person. Because when the ratio is more than 1:1, she withdraws into the background. She follows. She waits until she is spoken to. But hopefully with time and space, her confidence will flourish once more. She’ll go to sleepovers. She’ll travel away for dance scholarships. She’ll be the one to invite people places. And hopefully the little girl, who had enough courage and determination to tell her headteacher on the final day of school exactly what she thought of him, will not disappear, but will continue to rise from the ashes like a phoenix and become the vocal, determined, and stubborn teenager that I probably shouldn’t wish for!!

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