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You walk into my room, cracked walls and a creaky door, bright coloured, old chairs around a rickety table. I sit in a corner and say a quiet ‘Hello’. You walk along the wall and settle in a corner. You look scared. I am sorry, it’s scary. I say nothing. I watch you tiptoe along the wall, slowly, your hands behind your back, your eyes darting across the room.

I feel my heart beating faster. Yet another soul I’m supposed to help. My palms are clamy. I wonder if you can feel it, this anxiety of mine. You take one step towards the table. The ball or the doll or the car caught your eye. You glance at me, I smile slightly. You take a step back. I quickly look away, hoping you’ll put your faith in me again. You hesitate a few minutes and then take two steps.

I can see you from the corner of my eye. I try not to intrude with my gaze. You approach the table, touch the ball with your tiny hands, slowly. Oh! It’s the ball you liked. Mental note to find you more balls next time, or this time, if you wish to stay longer. I watch you tap the ball on the table. It glows, you smile, tap it again. Now against the wall, more smiles.

I smile too, in relief, you like it. I watch you play with the ball, look at the sunlight, squinting through it, closely examining its insides, bouncing it off the floor, the wall. Suddenly it’s not so bad, my broken walls hold your joy. You throw it on the floor, it bounces back at you, you dart, sideways, avoiding it, laughing in glee. I let out a laugh too. You turn around to look at me briefly. You’re not alone. You pick up the ball and go back to playing. A knock on the door , the door opens. We look towards the door.

Your father is here. You walk towards me, place the ball in my lap and whisper ‘Thank You’ head bent down. “You made my day.” I say, eyes welling up, “Thank You.” You turn around and leave, the colours of your smile filling my room.