Her eyes are full of tears, but she is not crying. I'm sitting in front of her across the coffee table, slowly moving the pin in my cup back and forth, only so that my tears won't fall either. She gives me a discreet smile, and I reply by asking her another question.
«But you're here now, what kept you going?»
I reach for the sugar, but changed my mind when I thought of what she just told me.
«Well, how much time do you have?» She looks tired and indisposed, and I hate the fact that I know why.
It is an early sunday morning in march, the birds are wirbling outside my window and I can smell a delightfull breakfast coming from the kitchen. Unfortunately not my kitchen.
«Lucky bastards» I can't help envying the wife or mother who gets served breakfast in bed this beautiful day. I pull the duvet over my head and sink deep down in my bed, before I jump out of there and practically run to the shower. This is what I do every day. I get up, shower, eat breakfast, which by the way hardly can be called breakfast considering it consists of only a handfull cereal and a glass of orange juice. Then I get dressed and leave the apartment to go to work. I am a columnist in a magazine called «Imagine», where I write about everything that is happening in the world. Today I have a meeting with a young girl called Marina Silva, who have a past I hardly can believe, but unfortunately is very real.
I take look at my very expensive Daniel Wellington watch. It is 09.55 and I am supposed to meet her in five minutes at Waynes Coffee, which should be about three blocks away. I speed it up a notch and arrive the coffee shop exactly one minute past the appointed time. I take a quick look around and see her coal black hair leaning towards the seat. Her white shirt gives it quite a contrast. It is a small café for not more than ten people at once, but I feel like I have to walk five miles to get to her table. My heart starts beating faster for every step I am approaching her. Why am I so nervous? I do this every day. I never get nervous like this.
«Miss Silva?» I ask polite, and reach out my hand. She smiles gently, and gives me a warm, but solid handshake. «I'm Kathleen.» I'm impressed. For a girl who has been through so much, it surprises me that she seems so comfortable around strangers.
I throw my jacket over the chair and order a cup of coffee, before I sit down and find my notebook.
«So, I know you're from Brazil, but when did you come to New York?»
She takes a deep breath and gazes into the air with emptiness in her eyes.
«I came to New york 8 years ago, when I was 16. Year of 2002. It was a big change from what I was used to.»
«What were you used to?»
«I grew up on a rubber ranch, because my dad worked there when I was very young. We couldn't afford to live in a house, his salary was pretty low. So, the owners of the farm had these sheds where we lived maybe four or five familys together. It was no bigger than 10 square metres, so every night we had to sleep very close to the other familys which we didn't even know. My brother had trouble sleeping so he would stay up all night crying, and of course that held everyone else in the shed awake, even some of the other sheds could hear him cry all night..» She takes a deep breath.
«My father got tired of it, so one day he grabbed him and carried him outside. I don't remember much, but I could hear my baby brother cry a long time after I no longer could see them. I saw they were headed for the woods. My mom was asleep, so she didn't know. She would have stopped him if she knew...» I caught a tear falling down my cheek and I quickly stroke it off with the palm of my hand.
«I didn't know what was going on. The next thing I remember is that me and my mom ran away. We ran away from the farm and dad. I haven't seen him since.» She finds a shrivelled coffee spot on the table and stares at it.
«What happened then?» I ask carefully. I don't want her to burst out in tears. I hate when people cry.
«Well, we were on the running for a long time, but then my mom met a guy and he became her boyfriend. It's weird to say that.» She forces herself to smile. «Her boyfriend.» The seriousness shows up in her eyes. She takes another deep breath, and lift her gaze to the roof to hold in her tears. I appriciated that.
«He was nice at first. He took us in his house. Fed us. Gave us clothes and a warm bed to sleep in. I had a room for myself, and mom slept in his bed. The room next to mine.» She shaked her head and closed her eyes, like she was going back in the memory.
«I heard it for the first time a cold night when I was 13. She was used as a punching bag, and then..