I don't know what to do, and so for a long time I don't do anything. I grope around for something to say, for the right thing to say. But I realise there is no right thing, and also that the longer I stand here without speaking the more I'm frightening her, and so I stick the gun into my belt, hold up my hands and say, "Hello."
Even that one simple word makes her jump as though I've lunged at her.
"It's okay," I say. "I'm not going to hurt you." I think for a minute. "My name's David," I say.
She looks up at me, mistrustful eyes glaring between her fingers. She seems to be considering something. I feel awkward, standing over her like that, and so I crouch down to bring myself on her level. Looking closer I can see how thin and pale she is, as if she hasn't been eating properly.
She hides her face again. "Please," she says. "Just go away."
I feel a twinge of something: a complex kind of pain. Rejection, maybe. I push it aside.
"You're hurt," I say. "What happened to your leg?"
For a long time I think she's just going to ignore me, but at last she speaks, her voice muffled from behind her arms.
"I fell," she says. "Yesterday. I was...I was trying to get home and I fell over and I landed on..." Her voice tails away.
I let some time pass. I'm desperate not to come across as too aggressive. "You don't look well," I say carefully.
The girl shakes her head. "Feel ill," she says, and a couple of harsh, small sobs escape behind those words. I imagine she must be in a great deal of pain.
"Are you alone?" I ask. "There's nobody--" But I stop myself as she glares up at me again with those suspicious eyes. "I'm sorry," I say. "It's none of my business." She hides her face again, and I think for a minute before going on. "You must be hungry."
This time when she looks up it's not suspicion I see, but a kind of hope. "You have food?" she says, with a tremor in her voice.
"I've got food," I say. "It's not much. I found a supermarket yesterday, but most of the stock had already been taken. Wait here a minute, and I'll get you something, okay?"
She bites her lip. "Okay," she says.
I stand up and move to the door of the small room. "I'll be back in a minute." She nods, and I turn and jog quickly upstairs to the office where I left my small stash of supplies. I select a couple of tins and a bottle of water, then return. The girl is where I left her, and she accepts the water and the tins of soup gratefully.
I sit back a little way and watch her eat. From the way she devours the soup I guess she must have been half-starving. She finishes both tins and half the bottle of water before she slows down.
"Thanks," she says thickly, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.
"It's okay." I smile at her. "You looked like you needed it."
She smiles back. "David?" she says, questioningly, as though checking that she heard right.
"Yeah," I say.
She gives me that same considering look she did before, takes a mouthful of water and then says, "Thankyou David. My...My name is Lisa."