She peeked up at the stranger quickly, inquiringly. She was sitting with her arms wrapped around her knees, long braids falling down her back. Her skirt came to her toes and she glanced down at them, then back up again, at the woman who knelt in front of her, eyes kind, intent on her face.
She didn’t want to talk, and she didn’t want to be noticed. She wanted to be left alone, here in her quiet place. But the woman wasn’t going away; she didn’t seem to be in a hurry, to have anything to do, and her eyes waited, gentle, on the little girl’s face.
“What do you want?” the girl whispered.
The woman shrugged slightly. “To be with you,” she said.
They sat in silence.
“Why?” the girl asked.
The woman knelt a little closer, her whole body leaning toward the girl.
“Because you’re loved,” she said. “And it’s okay. You’re safe. I’ve come to tell you it’s all going to be all right — you’re utterly, completely safe.”
The girl sat up a little straighter; her hands dropped away from her knees. “Who are you?” she asked.
The woman smiled, sat back a bit, relaxed. “I’m your future self,” she said.