… broccoli … chicken … maybe fish? … fresh pineapple—
In a blur of outstretched arms, golden hair and her blue school uniform, she collides against my chest.
“Monkey? What’s wrong?”
She glances behind her. Through the sea of 3:30 pickups, the three of them are playing near the climbing bars. When she turns back, her eyes are wet, but instead of crying, she picks up her heavy school bag, a strap over each shoulder, and trudges toward the school gates, head bent. Resigned, at eight-years old, to being treated like shit.
I catch up to her. “Did they call you names again?”
She bites her lip. “Can I have a Milo when I get home?”
The plane trees have all but lost their leaves as we walk down Harris Street but rather than jumping over the piles of leaves on the footpath, she walks evenly, her arms pinned at her side.
I grip her hand. “Remember what Mari said.” The child psychologist who, for $180 an hour, showed up late and looked out the window when Monkey spoke. “You need to tell me what happened so I can help.”
“It doesn’t matter.”