Mary, On a Cloudy Afternoon

December 3, 2009
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I’m quiet and she can’t see me. I’m all eyes and ears in my corner of the alcove, undetected and unrecognizable in my cloak of silence. Mary is over by the window on this cloudy afternoon, but she has just fallen under a direct beam of sunlight sent just for her. Mary is like that; always serious until she surprises you with something beautiful, but then Mary is beautiful. Mary is that ray of light, she just picks moments of peace and happiness to shine. She is my best friend. Mary comes into my rooms when she has the time and we talk and play dress up together until Mrs. Trinket is looking for her. Then Mary is back to being the perfect maid, serious, organized, and skillful, not a stray bit of imagination to be found until she is alone or with me playing dress up in my room.

I am a spy, just like the ones I’ve heard are coming. Mama says they are not right, women should stay home where it is safe and have babies, but I do not want babies. Daddy says it’s alright; I can be a spy for now, just not in the house. However, I don’t care what they say, they are always telling me what to do, and right now I want to be a spy in here because it’s raining outside. Anyways, I wouldn’t spy on them! All they do is either work with needlepoint or sit in Daddy’s office, and sometimes Daddy is not even home for weeks. Mary is the only one here worth spying on because beneath the surface she’s entirely different then one would think.

She’s moved now, from the window to the table as if she is thinking “I should really be putting this book down now” but she can’t. Mary is a reader. She’ll read anything. She’s always, reading, reading, reading. She knows she should get back to work cleaning, but what’s the harm? It’s not as if the miniature Chinese woman doll is going anywhere, and cloudy days are meant for reading. The urn will keep a few more minutes, and the vase won’t break for the shame of a few specks of dust, and Mary’s book, oh the book, is taking Mary far away from here.

Perhaps, the book is about where Mary was born. She doesn’t talk about it much, but she misses her old home. All Mary ever says about it is that it is far away, beautiful with green hills and blue lakes, and that she can’t go back because she is here now, and there is nothing left there. It’s one of the only times I ever see her truly sad. Her blue eyes become misty and she is always back to work before I can ask her more. I guess memories of true happiness always dull the comparison of this future. Mary didn’t always want to be a maid, maybe she wanted to be a spy like me, I don’t know. All I know is that right now Mary could be deep in her green hills by the lakes right now, and she’ll be back before she’s caught ‘cause I can be her eyes and ears too. I’ll warn her if Mrs. Trinket is looking for her. Mary will be back to work far before Mrs. Trinket can get anywhere near her because Mary is my best friend and a good spy always looks out for her partner.

Mary always says that a good friend is just like a sister. I wouldn’t know because I’ve never had one, but if I did I’m sure Mary would still be my best friend, sister by blood or not, anyways. That’s why, when I hear Mrs. Trinket coming down the hall with all her bulk and pounding footsteps, I sneak to the door in the shadows, stand up straight, close it, and say “Mary, guess who’s coming.”

Mary jumps, closes the book with a poof and lay it down. Then she gives me a bittersweet smile and is right back to cleaning, her moments in her private world far away when the door swings open.

“Mary, what are you doing reading… oh, weren’t you? Oh never mind!” snaps Mrs. Trinket.

Then she is gone, the crisis averted, and Mary saved from some unpleasant chore to be done in retribution. All’s well that began on a cloudy afternoon with a book.

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Green.Ink said...
Jan. 14, 2010 at 6:41 pm
I adore the way you write. This was wonderful. It's a perfect example of a child's outlook on the world and her people in it. :]
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