She's wandering on Hope Street, a busy street by anybody's standards, no coat, blank expression, forward moving, no side glances, no look both ways, just straight ahead and oblivious.
I stopped the truck in the middle of the road.
"What's the matter?" I asked.
No answer, no sign of acknowledging my presence, no struggle, no relief, no fear, just shivering, and the desire to walk straight ahead.
Her dress was thin, and she was freezing, twelve, maybe thirteen, maybe eleven. I walked her toward the truck, and cranked up the heat, and she sat there, and stared.
No ID, no answers, no information, just a little girl lost.
We drove around the neighborhood after contacting the police to see if any wanderers had been reported, none yet, but it wouldn't be long, this girl was well cared for, and would be missed.
A lady in a car, frantic, stopping pedestrians, asking questions, moving on.
"We have her," I said as we pulled next to the car, and I helped the girl out of the rescue, and her mother broke down in tears, and the little girl stared into space.
The cops arrived, and some other know it all's. They started their tirade about letting an autistic girl out of your sight, and I watched, and noticed the thirty-something year old mom, and saw the worry lines on her face, and the bags under her eyes, and noticed that her daughter was better put together than she was, and I couldn't help myself, and told the critics to shut up, move on, let it go.
Yeah, I know, the kid could have been killed or worse, and it may have been irresponsible behavior on the mother's part, but what about her, the mother?
What about her?
Who will take care of her?