“Hey Brenna,” a co-volunteer says as I stepped on the edge of the shovel to deepen my pull of the damp soil.
“Yeah?” I say, a little preoccupied.
He approaches me, this weird, almost I’m-not-sure-what-to-do-I’m-panicking look on his face.
“I think she’s hurt,” he tells me, a subtle signal to his left where the kids stood huddled in a little circle.
I drop my shovel on the ground and walk towards the kids.
As they parted, I saw Jingjing, the 5 year old in the middle.
She looked up at me with her innocent dark eyes.
And started to cry.
I’m not that good with kids. In fact, I’m partially scared of them.
It’s either I’m scared of them or I’ll eat them out of annoyance.
But the way Jingjing stood there made my knees melt like cheese in microwave.
I dropped at her side and pulled her close, my arms enclosing over hers so lightly that I thought I might break her.
“What’s wrong?” I ask, momentarily forgetting that she was 5 years old and probably didn’t know what I just said. I translated to Tagalog and asked Mary Ann and her friends what had happened.
Apparently, Jingjing had cut herself on one of the rocks in the other pile. He left leg was bleeding. It was just a small cut, but well, she was also small too.
I grabbed my water bottle and told her I was going to pour a little water on her cut. She hesitated for a moment but her friends held her while I wiped a bit of water on her cut. I let her get used to the coolness of the water before eventually cleaning the cut out.
Once the cut was clean, I took a band aid from my bag.
“Ay. Wow!” Mary Ann says, hovering over us, a little too curious.
At first, I didn’t understand what she was so curious about.
But when I pulled out the band aid and started to peel it onto Jingjing’s foot, I understood.
She watched my hand holding the band aids so intently that I decided to just hand it to her.
She took the band aid. Smiled at me. And wandered off, the smile never wavering.
Sorry, I don’t really have any pictures of the kids. But the memories are still vivid.