P Her earliest memories were typical. Held in her mother's arms for the first few weeks of her life, she knew the attention that every child craves. But soon, too soon, she remembered crying and having no one answer her, no one comfort her, no one pick her up and murmur to her. A baby can't understand that it isn't wanted, that it isn't needed, that it isn't useful. It knows only the moment, knows only need and not-need.

P When she cried she was fed, or changed. When she wanted nothing more than to be held she was ignored. A smart child, she soon stopped crying but she never quit missing the protected feeling she got when lying in her mother's arms, in anyone's arms.

P She remembered what it felt like when her eyes began to register shapes and colors. Her crib was white, her bedding white as well. The skin of her body looked oddly dark against the heavily bleached sheets. She would wave her arms quickly to try to block off the sight of so much white, so much light reflecting into her face. A mobile hung above her head, tattered pieces of cardboard held together by limp pieces of string and bent wire. Here her memories grew a little mudlled, her older mind ascribing names to the shapes she viewed. Yellow square, red circle, green star, blue heart, purple hexagon. The upper two corners of the sqaure were bent down and tattered, the brown of the cardboard showing through the paint.

P The bed was not uncomfortable, or at least she didn't remember being in any pain. For hours she would lie there, ignored until it was the desginated time to feed her, or to change her, or to clean her. The woman who came to care for her smelled of cigar smoke and her hands were rough.

P Her mother couldn't even be bothered to hire a nurse for her unwanted child.

P The task had fallen to a maid, a woman with tired blue eyes and a face that time had not been kind to. Her touch was not gentle, but she was never over-rough with the poor child. She was just too busy to give the sort of care that a baby deserves, pulled in too many directions to enjoy the latest task added to her chores.

P She would talk to the girl, though, making her a beloved change from the typical silence of the room. The tone was not kind, but it was not unkind, either. The maid would complain to the child, using her as an outlet on which to vent all her cares. The deliveryman was late, the lady was lost in another fantasy and calling for a pet years dead. Why she never called for her child troubled her, but she figured that it was because the girl was forgotten.

P After her tasks were done the woman would leave and the girl would be lost in her thoughts. Given so little to stimulate her mind, she thought instead about the arms that had once held her, the scent of the woman that was so different than the one she now knew. A scent that tickeld the nose and made her senses smile. Later she would know that it was the smell of roses, but as a baby she had never known flowers. Only this room, only these few bright shapes. And her crib, and her body.

P No one saw her the first time she rolled over, or the first time she sat up. Her hands grew strong from grabbing the bright white sheets and messing them about to create shadows, anything to break the expanse of nothingness.

P Then her eyes could focus on the far-off window, and even outside the window. Blue sky entranced her, and she used the bars of her crib to stand, to get herself as close to the window as possible. It was bright out there but not always bright, and sometimes the wind would blow the branches of the tree just below her window up high enough for her to see them. Green! Green like the star but a completely different shape. The branches would flash before her too quickly for her mind to grasp their look, but that only made her want to see them more.

P It was only two weeks after she first stood that she managed to get out of her crib. More by luck than by intention she managed to release the latch that held the bars up. It was simple after that to fall over the edge. She crawled to the window, but the wall was too high. She could see less here than she could from her crib. The disappointment was enough to make her want to cry had she not been trained to see tears as useless.

P Sitting by the window could not hold her interest, so she crawled to the door and played in the stream of air that blew into the room. She was hit in the head by the door when the maid came in to feed her. Stifling a curse, the woman looked behind the door, wondering what obstruction could have possibly been in the room. Upon finding the girl there her breath caught in her throat. How had the girl gotten out of her crib? It was unheard of for a six month old child to be already escaping from her crib.

P The child only knew that her life changed after that day. So many people visited her now, some to poke her with needles, some to play with her and show her strange new things. Different colors, shapes, textures, smells, everything was new and exciting. She looked for the scent that she remembered, but it was never there. The arms that had once held her had gone away, and in time she quit looking for them at all.