This Thursday, I met Helen.
We sat on the playground together, panting and catching our breath after a game of tag. Helen, still giggling, pointed to the beads of sweat that streamed from her hairline. Her dimples had a smile of their own. Her big brown eyes seemed far too wise for her petite little body – as if they’d already seen too much.
The other kids told me that Helen didn’t speak English. She seemed surprised when I responded to her in Spanish. First, a look of shock, and then, a sense of peace spread across her face. We started to talk.
She told me that her dad’s “now in the sky” and that her and her family just arrived to the States from Mexico. I asked Helen about her friends. “The kids here are bad with me. They don’t want to play. They don’t like that I don’t speak English.”
Helen and I, removed from the scene, continued to talk sitting crisscrossed on the rubbery blacktop. She’s seven years old. I told her that I was twenty-one; her face lit up. “Just like my mom!” she beamed.
The day neared its end and I assured her that I’d be back next Thursday. On my drive home, tears rolled down my cheeks.
My phone buzzed with an update. Everyday, my Spanish language app highlights a new word. “Esperanza” illuminated my screen.
Esperanza means hope.