The Hedgehog : a story about coming close
It was so hard. She didn’t think that she would be able to wait a minute longer, but she knew that she would have to.
She was about to go on the adventure of a lifetime or that’s what she had been told!
She had heard it all before and things never seemed to work out quite as well as she had been told that they would. In fact, every time someone said to her that things were going to be so exciting or great, she immediately began to feel herself begin to curl up inside. She could actually feel it happening as she thought about it! Her tummy began to feel tight, then slowly the feeling began to creep through her body and she just wanted to find a corner to curl up in and hide.
Just then she heard her foster mum calling her. The car had come and she was going to stay for the weekend with a family for respite… she wasn’t sure who was more eager for her to go her foster mum or the cat that she really couldn’t stand and that she always threw out of her room if it got in…..she’d been before and enjoyed it but she couldn’t get too excited or admit how good it was, she’d kept that to herself like she did everything else because she couldn’t bear the thought of people knowing how she felt. She couldn’t let them get near her. She had to be strong to protect herself. She sometimes felt so vulnerable some would say that she was soft but that was too scary. So, she kept everyone at ‘arm’s length’ she couldn’t let them near… and she didn’t know if respite would be any good this time and oh dear her tummy was tightening…deep breaths and off she went down the stairs carrying her bag and a few bits.
When they arrived, they were met by the smiling Tom, a very big dog and the smell of something that made her mouth water. “Oh, you’re just in time. I’m just going to walk Bertie do you want to come?” She so much wanted to go but that creeping feeling was starting in her tummy and she heard herself saying no.
“Ok” said Tom “let’s find your room and take your bags up” and they did. “Something to eat?” “No….”. “Watch TV with us? ” “No”, and so it went on.
Later when everyone had gone to bed and all was quiet she realised that she was hungry , she slipped out of bed and tip toed downstairs… Bertie was asleep but as she passed he opened one eye and his tail began to twitch and then wag which almost brought a smile to her face… she held her finger to her lips, shhh! Moved carefully towards the fridge and then she noticed a plate with a big yummy looking sandwich and cake and a message that said … ‘thought you might be hungry… enjoy’. She tucked in and drank the glass of juice too. Then she crept past Bertie and heard a snuffling noise.
The hedgehog that had been asleep all day in its pen was rooting around… she put her hand out to feel it’s spines but it curled up tightly into a ball… she watched and waited and very slowly she noticed it’s face begin to emerge and she saw its ‘snuffly’ snout twitching and slowly it began to uncurl and begin snuffling around again… once more she tried to touch it….no good, it curled up again…and again. She felt sad, she would have loved to have touched it and wondered if it was soft underneath as there couldn’t be any spines there. She went back upstairs got into bed and was soon fast asleep.
The next morning Tom said did she want to take Bertie for a walk before anyone else was up. To her surprise she didn’t say no and so they grabbed a couple of bananas and set off down to the valley. They walked along beside the river. Bertie was in the water and out again. They were throwing stones, crossing stepping- stones, and further on stopped and looked at the shapes of stones built into river. Tom explained that it used to be a working place many years ago. They talked about the hedgehog, how it had been rescued from a bad situation so curled up to protect itself lots… but it was getting better as they looked after it and it felt safe. She wished she could feel safe and protected…. She did sometimes but was never quite sure. Then they saw what looked like the top of a shield in the stones across the river. They wondered why it was shaped like that and carried on their walk talking about shields and keeping safe. Later as they walked back, she was looking for the shield in the river but couldn’t see it and then, there it was but from this side it wasn’t a shield. Now it looked like the top of a love heart. Oh wow… that’s it she thought the best shield of all is love… and to know that you are loved….