Raindrops bulge against the window pane and plop onto concrete below. Early morning light casts a faint sheen onto grey walls. Inside, a child sits, cross-legged on the floor. Elbows leaning into knees, she is alone, and waiting. Silence fills her lungs, followed by an echo exhalation. She is a tiny creature, a world of thoughts, a teardrop of fear. Mud-crusted toes press inwards, like piano keys.
Voices murmur from behind the locked door. Men and women shape her fate. They have no sense of her groping heart. Betrayal slices her gut and the pain smears her cheeks. Through the shimmer, she glimpses a praying mantis on the floor, nearby. She rubs her eyes and draws the insect into focus. It pads gingerly, angular and tentative. Opaque and vulnerable, it is traced green by a ray of sunlight. She recognises freedom in its spindly legs, the motion within the uncertainty of a wobbly gait.
The child feels a stir and stretch within. Blood bursts her veins and floods her head. The voices next door cease. She imagines the door opening, heels shuffling and throats clearing. And in the moment she gasps, leaps and plunges towards the window. Trembling limbs flail into fledging flight. Glass shatters skin. The child saunters into the blue. A balloon separates from thread.