Such a small thing [ficlet]

She wasn’t my favorite student. She wasn’t my least favorite, either. She was just one of the countless children that have peopled my life all these years that I’ve been teaching, her name blending with that of so many. And yet I could never forget her.

I remember how she always sat in the back, hidden behind a curtain of hair. She was shy and didn’t speak much.

The last day I ever saw her she came to school with a bruise on her neck. You could see the purple indentations where cruel fingers had grasped her slender neck. I told the principal and he alerted the police, who whisked the bewildered girl away.

Before she left, she came wordlessly up to me and threw her arms about my waist. I was so shocked at this gesture from her, a child who was normally so undemonstrative, that I did not immediately respond. In the instant I moved to hug her back, she moved away. I’ve always regretted not returning the embrace. It would’ve been such a small thing to give to a child who seemed to receive nothing but hurt.

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