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Page 3

Mark Haines

Rachel, in her fifteen years, has learned not to resent these quips and taunts, for so she obscurely sees them, but at this moment is strangely weakened by the comment, for some reason is dashed inside, and gives a little cry of objection. The words that follow are halting, perhaps because Rachel senses Fiona is now actually listening, and because, as usual, she does not feel safe to say what she truly thinks, but must say something.

“I think…’ she says, “…I’m trying to do my best…but there’s a lot to deal with…”

Fiona says, with some force, “Yeah…yeah…I think I know all about it… I didn’t mean to throw you like that…in this job you can say the wrong thing too easily sometimes”.

Rachel’s mind now leaps to the home to which she will return that night, a pleasant, clean suburban place in the city’s west, where two adults, with their two children, give brief refuge to people like her. She has been there for two weeks, and found every hour difficult, the efficiency and insistent kindness of the place at war with much of her experience, most of her habits and many of her wishes.

But the people there have gained her gratitude by their manner towards her brother, above all. Two years younger, he is also in care, but Rachel’s current ‘people’ have allowed him to call, visit and even stay occasionally, and this has greatly benefited her. To this brother she can say what must otherwise be hidden, remember what many wish her to forget, and be shyly tempted to dream of what very few expect of her.

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