The little girl and her family moved around and through the city of Winthrop, Massachusetts. Above sea level now, the water tower nearby became a regular fascination – sentinel for the bluff over the ocean, and a prohibitive drop down. In the tiny, warm, bright foyer of the apartment on Prospect Avenue, she felt safe. The slamming screen door pushed her inquisitive thoughts stiffly and the moments in the foyer became nothing more than specks of time.
She contemplated life, and often sang songs to it – little ditties formed as inquiries about who she would be, what she would look like in 1995, or if she would exist in 2010. With curious gloom, she wondered about the world, herself and whether eventually, it would exist at all.
She never expected answers – the questions were just questions, ruminations, thoughts. The little girl couldn’t entertain the obvious – talk to someone understanding, or thoughtful, in response to her queries. Expose her thoughts, even though she’d never heard anyone speak of such things? Shame and Despondency stood tall and strong at the other side of the gate of her inner sanctum. Her special companion was Fear, waiting for her.
She visited the water tower several times, and failed to get inside the safety of the fence, in order to stand with the structure that stood alone, as she always had. Having no entry, she visited the edge of the bluff to engage in her thoughts. The prospect of falling into the ocean, or dropping intentionally, reminded her that no one would care. She knew that if she did drop, someone would surely notice her young body and pick her up. She had no concept of the finality of death.
Soon came a surprising invitation! An opportunity to visit twin girls who lived in the neighborhood! Puzzled, she wondered why they had chosen her – she had never been invited to anyone’s home before! She was allowed to go, even though the twins were older than she.
It was awkward and lovely inside their home. The twins introduced the little girl to their mother, who greeted her
kindly, and the little girl could see the kindness as a sparkle in their mother’s eyes. The Mother, neatly dressed in a lightweight sweater, below-the-knee straight skirt, Jackie Kennedy dark hair smiled and followed behind the girls to their bedroom. There was an unfamiliar softness within these walls, and a quiet she hadn’t heard outside of her own thoughts.
All four entered the girls’ bedroom and Mother’s offer of cookies took the little girl by surprise. She’d never had such an offer before, one delivered with genuine sweetness – the kind of sweetness that gets baked into a cookie, but comes from the heart. The little girl didn’t know how to accept, but the twins knew exactly what to do . As the twins thanked their Mother, she turned neatly, and closed the door. Time stood still at that moment, and the little girl felt the crushing blow.
POSTSCRIPT: These are childhood memories and to the best of my recollection, are true.