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A Short Story Written by Sara Boyle


The past week had been hopelessly busy for Elan Gain. Filled with gruelling ongoing court hearings, lengthy case study meetings and when she was not writing up client notes, she was lecturing at The University of Nottingham. In fact, the weekend fourth coming was calling her to slow down a little, relax and take some time out. Elan was not good at doing this; she was always full steam ahead, whether it was work or leisure. She had a famous saying that was well heard by all who knew her, ‘great minds have purposes, others have dreams.’ Even at the age of fifty-two she was sprightly and always one step ahead. A studious figure of a woman full of unpretentious intellect yet hid a great deal behind those Gucci reading glasses of hers, using them as a façade between her and others. They were constantly propped on the end of her nose, always ready and waiting for her to hide behind if needed. Elan’s rapport only ever shone when she was in the presence of children. Then it was evident for all to see the true essence of her gentle compassionate nature. Years of wisdom mapped out the lines on her kind face, her penetrating eyes deep and blue, the colour of the ocean, peeping out over her spectacles. Big and long silvery loose curls untidily swept back off her face and clasped at her nape, with the odd ringlets falling free down her neck. To her young clients, she was the epitome of kindness, a soulful entity giving wrap-around-care and a secure place as and when they needed it. Elan believed, if you nurture the seed the mighty oak tree will grow. Without constructive love care and attention, a child can become inhibited and over time this may weaken their developments on so many different levels. Her psychiatric training was mainly Freudian but now days she encouraged the child to set the pace and found she was more the passive listener; she would direct the child in a none verbal way through play. This allowed fluidity and continuity with her sessions and the children felt more freedom to express themselves under these circumstances. She was dedicated to her work and she showed no boundaries when it came to her knowledge of psychology and child development.

It was now late in the afternoon. As she walked over to the window, Elan noticed how the weather was changing, winter was approaching. She had been so wrapped up in her work that she had not noticed autumn come and go. The wind was howling through the silhouetted trees whirling leaves off and up into the air swirling them around till they fell to their rest. Now the pavements were covered with a remembrance of autumn, the vibrant colours now fading. Standing by the window, she took a deep sigh and soaked up the view, welcoming the change of season. Momentarily Elan’s mind had wondered, she snapped herself out of the daydream with a sip of espresso which now was lukewarm. She looked across the room to a pile of bulging case files precariously resting on the coffee table. She walked over and picked up the top file and with her long and graceful fingers, she carefully flicked through the pages and reacquainted herself with the next child’s case history. The child’s notes were vague. A seven-year-old female, described as a mute with developmental delays. She was living in the care system at Southwood, a Dr Barnardo’s care home for children with learning disabilities. “I thought that had closed down in the mid seventies,” she said to herself out loud, then continued to read. At the age of three the child was involved in a serious car accident that killed her older brother and her parents and left her with suspected brain damage. Feeling slightly mystified Elan read further, the sound of a faint knock at the door broke Elan’s concentration, she propped her spectacles on the tip of her nose and as she turned to see who it was. In walked a little girl.

She was an intriguing seven-year-old child. With enchanting magnetic blue eyes, a pale translucent complexion and sun-streaked golden locks of hair that fell untidily over her face. She sat looking extremely fragile and totally oblivious to her surroundings and had an air of ghostly presence. She started to whisper an unfamiliar rhyme. Elan could not quite make out the words that were being chanted. She was rocking slightly to the rhythm of her own voice as she soothed her thoughts with her long slender fingers moving slowly back and forth across her lips. From across the room Elan could see she was wearing odd socks and that her flared trousers were rolled up at the waist. Elan was captivated. Although they were one hour into the therapy session, they had not yet formed any two-way dialog and no eye contact could be formed. It was as though she was in a world of her own, totally unaware of Elan’s presence in the room. It was early days yet, but still, in her silence she oozed such a powerful existence. Actually, there was more than meets the eye with this little girl, her mind was intangible, or so Elan thought.

A week had past since Angelina’s last visit. Elan was busying herself, picking up the toys used in the last therapy session. When she came across a child’s brightly coloured painting, she smiled sweetly to herself. It was an old picture that brought back found memories of a little boy called Rupert. The picture was Rupert with his baby sister, Mum and Dad and at the bottom it read, “ to Elan love Rue xxxx.” He was such a clever young boy full of laughter and mischief and her memories flooded the room with the sights, sounds and the smell of him. She put the picture away upon the top shelf and pulled out a poetry book, she selected a page where the poem read; “Love is nowhere to be found, a dulcet sibling lost. He is somewhere, as there are cherished memories still running deep.” She stopped there as a single bead of a tear rolled down her cheek. Elan snapped herself out of a daze with the bash of the pages, they banged together and she shut the book. It was now teatime and there was one more client to see before going home. The winter nights were drawing in, Elan turned the light on and rapped a shawl around her shoulders and with a sudden shudder turned the heating up. Then she began to prepare the room for the next session.

It was the second therapy session with Angelina. Elan was sitting crossed legged on the opposite side of the room, playing with an old Cindy doll, dressing it in various princess dresses. For a brief second Elan was sure she saw Angelina look over at her. Elan carried on playing with the doll, as not wanting to disturb the connection that was starting to occur. Elan continued, a strange intensity surrounded them both and as she looked up their eyes met and locked in a recognizable gaze. Angelina began to softly whisper in rhyme. Elan could still not make out the words but found herself humming along with the little girl. Angelina’s eyes welled up with tears, they streamed down her blotched cheeks and her uncontrollable sobs came out in waves. In astonishment, Elan slowly reached over and drew the little girl in closer. There they stayed till her sobs turned into tiny hick-ups of breath and she finally calmed down. Entwined in this tender moment in time, Elan affectionately stroked her hair and wondered about this strong nurturing feeling she had inside her to protect this child and help get her well again. All Elan’s professional training as a therapist, not to get involved emotionally, went out of the window. She now felt an overwhelming desire to protect Angelina. And so each Friday past and their friendship grew.

As the winter turned to spring, their relationship continued to grow stronger. The little girl was blossoming into a joyful adventurous little creature. Elan was bowled over by her endless tenacity towards life and the strength she had to over come emotional obstacles from her love losses. As spring turn to summer the last session on Friday afternoons were spent talking and reminiscing together at Southwood. Soaking up the idyllic views of the Derbyshire countryside. As the time passed by, leaves began to fall once more. They said their goodbyes. Angelina turned to walk away. Elan stood there alone with her thoughts and watched her fade into the distance, not a nobody lost in the care system labelled with all sorts of problems. She was now a significant little eight-year-old finding her way through life after experiencing a trauma that left her alone with her grief. A significant other, ready to live and play another day. Elan wished and lived all her dreams right there in that very moment while standing at the foot of a giant oak tree. She hoped that she would grow into an independent beautiful woman and in time learn to use her great mind so that it has purpose. Elan stood there waving goodbye till the child was out of sight, vanished, like a ghost from her past. An angel sent to heal old wounds.

As Elan looked up, she was surprised to see the stark contrast of the diamond twinkling sky peeping through the shadowed branches. An acorn dropped to her feet, she smiled knowingly, while thinking out a loud, where did the time go? She stayed there a while longer and noticed a derelict building looming in her view, with memories of Southwood spinning around in her head, she let them go and off they went, free, into the bitter nights churning air, mixing with the leaves as they scattered to their rest. As the chilly wind brushed her face a surge of warmth rushed through her veins, she felt alive. Through the whistling of the wind, she heard the weekend was calling. Starting a slow walk home, she thought of the endless relaxation she had planned for the weekend. While she walked away the wind whispered softly through the trees; “I am you and you are me. Together and entwined. In your heart I will be. Forever free.”

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