Cielo’s Little Box: Excerpts from Finding Your Force

Finding Your Force: A Journey To Love by Alicia Anabel Santos

cielo's box

I want to tell you a story about Cielo and her favorite box…

Cielo is little girl with dark eyes and no smile. She has beautiful brown hair that feels like silk. Her skin is like caramel. She came to me the other day and we sat. She sat in front me and didn’t say a word. I could tell she wanted to laugh at my funny faces but she was afraid to. I wanted to play with Cielo, but she has never played with anyone. Cielo has been in prison since the day she left the womb. Her life story was revealed to me with out the use of words, through her eyes because she couldn’t speak. I have never heard her voice. She said nothing the entire time we were together… but her eyes told me everything. They told me that she was sad, that she was lonely, that something was missing, that someone had taken something very special from her. She told me that she has never once held a doll.

No one talks to Cielo.
No one visits Cielo.
No one looks at Cielo.
No one sees Cielo.
No one asks Cielo if she’s happy.
No one asks Cielo if there is anything she needs.
No one asks Cielo if she wants to play.
No one asks Cielo what she wants to be when she grows up.
No one asks Cielo what her dreams are.
No one has ever told Cielo that she is special.
No one has ever told Cielo that she is beautiful.

I kept visiting her. I kept listening to her silence. And one day her eyes smiled at me when I said, Cielo, I love you! If no one has ever told you that… allow me to be the first…

Cielo you are magnificent.
Cielo you can be anything you want be.
Cielo I love playing with you.
Cielo you are my best friend.
Cielo your eyes are kind.
Cielo you are special.
Cielo you are beautiful.
Cielo you were born for greatness.
Cielo you are love.


Her eyes started to get watery. A tear fell down her face. “Cielo what did I do? Have I hurt your feelings? Don’t be sad. What is it? Are you hurt? I can see the pain in you. I see it in the blood from your tears. Who has hurt you? I will protect you. Don’t cry. You will have all you desire. All your dreams will come true. The pain that you are feeling will eventually go away in time.

She carries a box and holds on to it tight. She would not let me hold it. She wouldn’t let me see what was inside of the box. She was protecting it. Cielo was afraid that if he found out what she carries in that box he would take it from her. I wondered if it was lonely for her walking in the world alone. A girl should never walk alone when she’s only in the 4th grade and can’t speak. A lot can happen to a little girl who walks the woods alone. Stripped of her core, her personality hidden, forced to be who she’s not.

Cielo will go through life gripping her box, never opening it.


A Child’s Playground

I was riding the train one day when I saw this beautiful Central American girl. She had dark hair and dark eyes. She must have been 4 years old. She was just swinging around a pole… smiling and laughing… she had no worries in the world – she was so happy. The D train was her playground and it didn’t matter who was around looking. Nothing could take away her happiness. She kept playing and playing. In that moment I couldn’t help but think about all the kids I see daily. The cute Asian boy sitting next to his mother who was sleeping while he drew these incredible sketches of what I can only imagine will be a video game he will develop in the future. I also remember a family sitting across from me on the train a little girl, her mom and dad all playing together acting silly – it was beautiful to watch. There was a little baby in the stroller who was with angry parents who were arguing yelling at each other on the train when suddenly, the baby looked at me, I just smiled and she smiled back and in THAT moment I knew that nothing else mattered but the two of us smiling back and forth while the grown ups were piss’t off at each other.

Some other moments I’m recalling, are of the little boy who was walking with his father who a minute ago was happy and then got slapped in the face for speaking in a tone that his dad didn’t like. Then there’s a three-year-old boy walking with his mother being yelled at in Spanish. As they approached a restaurant she said to him, “habre esa puerta! Silve pa algo!” (Open that door – – be worth something – – be good for something). The worst moment for me though was the day I actually saw a mother slap her child in the face. Just imagine the sounds echoing loudly over the 125th Street a noise. The slap was heard above the sounds of buses, and horns honking, a noise that went directly through me, a noise that felt like she just slapped me. All I kept thinking about was that little boy. What will he grow up to believe about himself? Will he think that he’s special? Will he know that he’s gifted? Will he believe that he can be anything he wants to be? Where will he find his sense of worth when the people closest to him are stripping him of that?


For a long time Cielo felt like she was fighting for her life. She’s been keeping it safe in that box. She won’t let anyone near it. I wanted to ask her how she could love someone who beats her. But I knew the answer…

You tend to love them anyway. You tend to love them more. You forgive them easily. You will do just about anything to gain their love. Even take their abuse. You want them to love you and you want them to stop beating you.

Peace, Love & Light~


Purchase the complete memoir, Finding Your Force, here.  

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