A young girl not more than ten years old stands on the porch. At closer inspection, you would find nothing remarkable about her, for she is neither tall nor short for her age. Her hair is brown, not a rich, deep chestnut brown or even the color of freshly tilled dirt, just an unremarkable brown badly in need of washing.

Anyone who bothered to take notice would swear she had lice, and they would have been right. However, most people do not take the time to look, and if they do, they hurriedly avert their eyes. After all, it is much more convenient to be ignorant, for if one pays the slightest attention, one may feel an obligation to do something about it—No, it is much easier to turn the other way.

The freshly washed face and hands of the girl are a stark contrast to the dirty dress she wears, which has yellowed from age and is a size too small.

At school, especially during recess, the other children tease her, occasionally by openly calling her names, but mainly by pointing at her while covering their mouths and snickering. She has grown to accept the teasing and the laughter; it is all she has ever known. If by chance a miracle would have occurred and they would have treated her with kindness by inviting her to play with them, that would be different, that would have worried her, and she would have known something was wrong.

Her dark brown eyes shine with curiosity, yet there is an indescribable haunting quality, and were she to gaze in your eyes, you too, like many others, would look away, intimidated.

The socks she wears fall to her ankles. The elastic has long since given out, and if asked, she would tell you the shoes she wears are too big as well, a gift from the Salvation Army.

Late at night while the rest of the house sleeps, she sneaks into the closet to stuff the toes of the shoes with old clothes she cuts into strips, but it doesn’t help. Her feet always have open blisters, and she has grown used to that, too.

The same closet holds the flashlight where she reads at night. After prying a board loose from the wall with a small screwdriver found in the backyard, she had discovered a secret hiding place for her diary, her only prized possession. She wraps the diary in a soft baby blanket that she found on the side of the road walking home from school one day. She had first washed it in the bathroom sink at school until it smelled fresh and clean.

Her social worker gave her the diary as a Christmas present, telling her that every girl should have a secret place to write her thoughts.

The diary, covered in bright yellow daisies, has a small lock and came with a tiny gold key that she wears around her neck, attached to an old shoelace. At the end of each day, she writes down everything that has happened to her, as well as all her thoughts, secret thoughts that she would never share with another soul.

Another valuable lesson she has learned, it is better to be ignored than noticed, because being noticed is bad. If you are quiet, adults forget you are there and that is when they talk about the things they don’t want you to know about.