My fingers ran gently along the polished wood of the table as I took refuge in the wellness of my being. I carefully picket up the small knife and admired the craftsmanship with which it was made. It was old silverware. The china on the table was beautiful too. Not too ostentatious, delicate non the less. And expensive. I could see that. I put down the knife again and put my hands in my lap. I retreated to my being and found refuge in how well it was. Complete, whole, resting in itself. Within breath.
Mrs Van Daalen came back from the kitchen. She brought in some bread pudding, hot with melting butter on top. The smell of cinnamon was inside me before the plate touched the table. Mrs Van Daalen set down at the table and then poured me some tea. Without asking she put some milk in my cup, gave it a light stir and set the cup next to my plate.
My clothes were very comfortable on me. Clean. I was wearing some new underwear. They belonged to her daughter, but she would not mind, Mrs Van Daalen had said. If and when I was ever able to, I could return them to her. I was even wearing some socks again. New they were, straight from a wrapper they had come in from the shop.
Without thinking I was stirring the tea some more. The plates and cutlery were already gone to the kitchen. Mrs Van Daalen would not have me do anything. I felt uncomfortable with that at first, but now I just let it happen. I was so tired. It was kind of okay to have someone taking care of me. For now. Just for this moment in time. And Mrs Van Daalen did not really make any fuss. She was very natural about it all. She never made me feel uncomfortable about anything.
There was just one thing Mrs Van Daalen did want me to do. Write a letter to my mother. She gave me sheet of paper and a pen. And she poured me some more tea. When I asked for some sugar, I got some sugar. I was sure she was not going to let me get up from this table until I had finished writing a letter to my mother. It was a beautiful pen she gave me to use to write it with. A bright blue lacquered pen with a golden tip. It struck me as a masculine pen somehow. The paper was just plain white paper. Very empty, plain and white.
I put the tip of the pen to the sheet of paper. It was as if I watched how someone wrote a letter. “My Dear Mother, ” it said at the very top. “My Dear Mother, ” And from then on it wrote itself. The core of the message being that I was healthy and safe. “With love, Anna” I concluded. With love indeed.
I stirred my tea some more. “I think it is ready to drink now, my dear.” said Mrs Van Daalen. I looked up to her kind eyes and smiled. I picked up the cup and drank the tea. Sweet and good it tasted. My hand was feeling a bit cramped from the writing of the letter. It was shaking a little as I placed the cup back on the saucer. Surely it was the cramp from writing that letter. I looked at it. Mrs Van Daalen got up from her chair and she collected the pen. “Good.” she said. With her eyes she ran over the letter and her hand stroked my shoulder. I shivered. I finished my tea.
Mrs Van Daalen had been an angel of course. Taking me in for a couple of days. Cleaning me. Feeding me. Letting me find some peace. It was what you do for a stray cat. She was kind to me. She did not warn the police or youth welfare. She did not put anyone on my tail. She never pushed either. She never said what I should do or not do. She never gave any advise I did not ask for. She just made me write that one letter. What I should do with it? I did not know. I had it in my pocket when I left Mrs Van Daalen. A clean pocket. An otherwise empty pocket.
I could feel the folded paper of that letter underneath my left hand as I walked away from the house, and out of the street. My hands in my pockets again, my head down. I was in no hurry to go anywhere, but I was going there anyway. The letter was getting somewhat wrinkled while I started to walk a bit faster and I stuck my hands in my pockets a bit deeper.
Ah, those socks. So good to have socks on your feet if you wear shoes!