The chirp of crickets through the night is a soothing sound, especially so when running from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Being an artist is no easy feat.
A warm, crackling fire heats her back as she prepares her meal. It's just miso soup for now, the chicken is roasting over the fire. She goes over to check it, knife slowly parting flesh enough to see… doesn’t seem quite done yet. Meandering around her campsite, she slowly eats her soup, picking up her messes accumulated over the day.
She’s alone this time, camping. Sometimes her best friends come along, but not this time. It’s good to be alone right now. Weary and stressed, the almost 30-year old could use some solitude right now. Everyone seems to be pairing off, and being the only unwed, unattached female can be quite…. bothersome when having a girl’s night and not being able to really be a part of that coupled world. She shakes her head to rid herself of these thoughts. No need to make herself depressed, this was suppose to be relaxing.
Coming from a southern family, she was also expected to pair off, be married with kids by now. Too bad she turned out too strong in will and personality for some of them southern boys. She got that from her daddy, the stubborn and hard-headedness.
Taking one more slurp of the miso, she sets it down on a stump to retie her hair, half the dark tendrils escaping from her bun as she busied herself with the clean up. She’s grown fond of the Asian cultures and food, vestiges from youth, she presumes. Going back towards the rotisserie, she stops half bent, knife in hand, as the snap of a twig underfoot breaks behind her.
Whipping around, knife at the ready, her eyes widen at the strange site before her. A young girl, naked as a newborn babe, stands before her, covered in some sort of clumpy goo, shivering.
“You alright, hun?” she asks, lowering the knife, but not quite putting it away. Wouldn’t want to be ambushed, just in case.
The girl looks at her and around the campsite, and slowly starts approaching the fire, her attention obviously captured by the warmth and smell of roasting chicken. The camper watches the girl for a moment, before putting the knife away, and gets between the girl and the fire, hands up, as if approaching a wild animal.
The girl freezes as the camper moves in front of her. Seeing her tense and fear, the woman stops and speaks softly, “Hun, it’s alright, I’m not gonna hurt you. I’m Miranda. Miranda Holloway. What’s your name?”
The girl tilts her head. Does she not understand? “I’m gonna get you a blanket, okay? Don’t want you getting sick. Stay there, alright?” Miranda hesitates a moment, hoping she got through, before backing away towards the 4-wheeler and trailer. Watching the girl a moment, she hasn’t moved besides following Miranda’s movements, Miranda turns to the trailer and digs up a flannel blanket. ‘This should do it.” She grabs a bottle water and rag while she’s at it.
Turning back towards the girl, Miranda catches her reaching for the chicken. Frantic, she half shouts “No don’t!” startling the girl away from the fire. She rushes over to the girl, grabbing at her hands. The girl jerks away, and Miranda rushes to calm her.
“No, no, sh, sh, it’s okay! I just don’t want you to get burnt! It’s hot and will burn! Ouch! See?” Miranda mimes burning her finger, and sticks it in her mouth. The girl looks at her and starts to smile.
Grinning back, “There now see? I’m not going to hurt you. Give me a moment and I’ll get some for you. It’s too much for me anyway.” Taking the blanket, she slowly wraps it around the girl. “There now. That’s better.” The girl slowly grabs the edges of the blanket, closing it around herself. She rubs her face against the flannel. It’s slightly fuzzy, and soft. Miranda smiles, and the girl seeing her, smiles back.
“I’m gonna get you that food now, ok?” Miranda points to the chicken and edges back towards the fire, pulling the knife out and grabbing the leg with a hanky, she cuts a leg off. Crawling back on her knees, chicken leg in hanky gripped hand, she blows on it and hands it to the girl.
Still hesitant and nervous, the girl takes the leg and sniffs it, before nibbling off a small warm piece.
“Good isn’t it?” Miranda smiles again, happy that this nervous and obviously abandoned waif trusted her. Seeing the leg almost gone, she goes to get the rest of her miso.
“Now I’d give you more, but I’m not sure when the last time you ate was, so we’re gonna try some soup, alright?” Miranda scoops a bit out, and holds it in front of the girl. She just stares between Miranda and the spoon, unsure of what is being offered and what she’s suppose to do.
“Look, it’s not poisoned.” Taking a sip from the spoon and giving an exaggerated “Mmm,” Miranda holds the spoon back out to the girl, knowing she’s watching her every movement. Leaning forward, the girl sips from the spoon. Deciding it wasn’t so bad, she drinks the rest from the spoon.
Miranda continued to feed a few more spoons of the miso to the girl before stopping.
“There now. That should be enough for now. Being as I haven’t a clue the last time you ate, I don’t want you getting sick.” Miranda reiterates, pulling out the rag and bottled water, she wets a corner and mimes on her self. “Now I’m gonna wash your face okay? That goopy stuff’s gotta be itchy by now.”
Slowly, gently, Miranda wipes away the goo, revealing the girl beneath. “Oh you are gorgeous.” Warm amber eyes, that haven’t strayed from her so far, continue to stare out from a softly angled face, curtained by still goopy ringlets of hair.
Miranda sighed softly, gently removing hair from across the girl’s forehead. “Where’re you’re parents? Do you know?” Seeing the girl still not answer, “Well I guess we can’t stay out here then, can we? We need to get you cleaned up and find where you belong.” She rubs the girls arms, hoping she’s still warm; she glances around the mostly clean site.
“It shouldn’t take me long to clean up the rest and pack everything back into the trailer. Let’s go ahead and get you in the back, so I can give you buffer in the trailer. I don’t know what or who brought you here and left you like this, but I don’t think it was good, so I’m also going to try and hide you for now, okay?”
Giving a slight smile, and hoping, praying the girl understands, Miranda leads her to the trailer and helps her get settled. Arranging the pillows and blankets around her, Miranda makes sure she’s still covered and warm before taking a swig from the water bottle and giving it to the girl.
It didn’t take long to clean up the site, even with everything she hadn't tidied up strewn about. Even with all her painting and camping supplies, it’s a good thing she packs light. She had no tent to worry about, being as she was just going to bundle up in the trailer.
“You’ll need to lie down now, okay? I’ve stacked everything so that hopefully nothing will fall on you, and you’ve got plenty of blankets and pillows to burrow and hide under. It’s shouldn’t take too long to get back to my car, so just sit tight.”
Moving towards the 4-wheeler, Miranda mounts and starts the engine, keeping an eye on the girl before pulling off in the direction of the nearest ranger station.