Survival of a Girl

May 13, 2010
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Selena walked out of the grocery store with a single brown paper bag. She unrolled the top and peered inside to make sure the single white rose had not been crushed. She had been saving her change here and there to buy her mother a white rose. They were her favorite. Seeing that the rose was safe and sound, she carefully rolled the bag back up and walked down the sidewalk.
She turned onto her street and admired all of the big, luxurious houses. She looked up at the pillars in the front of the house to her left. They looked so old. She imagined gentlemen in tall top hats coming to pick up beautiful ladies in carriages. She looked to her right and sighed at the beautiful Spanish-styled house setting behind a black iron fence. She imagined children her own age playing in the yard with a ball. She kept walking, continuing to make up scenes for each house she passed. From happy and content families to war swept individuals, her mind raced, creating happy and sad endings for each. She was almost to the corner now. A giant oak swept skywards and she imagined a rainforest, with a native hiding behind the aging trunk, playing some sort game of hide-and –seek. She turned to her right and saw a big white house with a black iron fence. The grass was as green as any other on the street and the porch was the biggest out of all of them. There was a swing on the right side, and she imagined herself sitting there, swinging, swinging the summer away. This house was hers.
Unlatching the lock on the gate, she opened it just enough to squeeze herself through. The gate was very heavy and her small arms couldn’t shut it all the way if she opened it too much. She quickly walked up the brick sidewalk and up the front steps, excited to see the expression on her mother’s surprised face when she gave her the flower. She was very proud at being able to save her change, unlike the other children on the street who wasted it on candy and small toys. She had saved for an entire week. It had come to three dollars and eighty-nine cents. She had woken up that morning and had gone straight to the store to buy the rose.
She opened the heavy front door and went inside. Closing it behind her, she set the brown paper bag on the corner table of the foyer. She struggled to unbuckle her black shoes. Despite her mother telling her to always unbuckle them, she slid them off. She couldn’t contain her excitement any longer.
“Mom?” she shouted. The silence answered with a loud ringing. Her feet treaded the soft carpet to the kitchen.
“Mom? Are you cooking?” The silence answered once again. “The sunroom. That’s where she always is at this time of day. She’s always watering the plants or reading a book in there,” she rationalized.
Running to the sunroom, she once again yelled for her mom. “Mom?” The silence seemed to taunt her. Her mom wasn’t in the sunroom either.
“Where could she be?” Selena thought aloud, cocking her head this way and that, as if she were a dog listening to the curious sounds of silence.
Racing back to the kitchen, she shouted again, “Mom! Where are you?” Again silence replied with a ringing sound. Selena stood in the middle of the kitchen for a minute, and listened for any hint of her mother’s presence. The silence was becoming unbearably loud.
“Maybe she just went to the market,” she said, as she looked around for some sort of note from her mother, telling her where she had gone and when to expect her to be home. There wasn’t any note at all. The kitchen looked completely spotless. In fact, the house was immaculate, as if her mother had hired ten housemaids to clean before going on vacation.
Selena went back to the foyer to grab the brown paper bag. She unfolded it and peered inside to make sure it was alright. Seeing that it looked the same as it did ten minutes ago, she folded it back up and turned to leave. Remembering her still buckled shoes, she quickly turned back around and grabbed them. If her mother came in and saw her best shoes still buckled, she would have a fit.
Selena went up the stairs and into her bedroom. Setting the bag on her night table, she set down and unbuckled her shoes. Once she was finished, she stood up and set the shoes on her bed. Smoothing her dress, she grabbed the shoes once more and walked across her room to her closet. She lined them up next to her white dress shoes and her black boots her grandma had gotten her on vacation, along with countless other pairs ranging from worn and tattered play shoes to the nice, fancy ones she wore on outings.
She glanced around her full closet with a look of content and shut the door. She turned around slowly wondering what to do next. A bubbling rumble came from her stomach. Laughing aloud to herself, she flicked the light switch off and bounced down the stairs.
In the kitchen once more, she opened the refrigerator and rummaged through it, pulling from its depths some cheese and an apple. Turning around, she set the food on the countertop and opened the refrigerator again, this time returning with a jug of milk. The milk joined the food on the counter as she crossed the marble floor to the cabinet that held the glasses. She stretched her hands as far above her head as she could, but still could not reach the cabinet door. She crossed her arms in dismay as her eyes scanned the room for something to stand on. She spotted a chair by the pantry. She half walked, half ran to get it and dragged it over to the cabinet. She climbed on top of the chair and then on top of the countertop. Once she was there, she yanked open the cabinet door and retrieved a glass.
Climbing down from the cabinet to the chair was the most frightful part. She was so small and delicate compared to everything around her in that big, prestigious house. She blindly placed her foot on the seat of the chair and felt her way down until her toes touched the coolness of the marble floors. The glass still in hand, she scooted the chair back to where it belonged and tended to her now aching stomach. She uncapped the sweating jug of milk and poured some into the glass. Setting it aside, she took a small, delicate bite out of the apple. She looked like a live porcelain doll that had come to life. The doll would turn her head this way and that, thinking childish thoughts of play and chimera.
Selena’s eyes were dazed with sleep after she had finished eating. Where could her mother be? She was never out this late. With thoughts of worry in her head, she stumbled up the stairs to her mother’s bedroom. The bedroom was all the way down the hall and to the left. Her feet dragged on the grand carpet that ran down the hall. Rubbing her eyes, she opened the door.
Immediately she felt cold and lonely. Her mother’s sweet perfume lingered in the air around her. There was definite emptiness in the room, a most certain echo. She flipped the light switch, adjusting her tired eyes to the new light.
All around her was empty, aside from the old dresser and a naked bed. Her mother’s belongings were gone, and the room was bare. Her mother’s paintings and the jewelry box were absent as well as the blankets and the wooden chest which held old pictures and keepsakes. Fully awake now, Selena rushed to the closet and threw open the door. A plain wall stared back at her. No fancy dresses or Sunday church clothes. No pretty shoes that Selena had begged and begged to wear. It was all gone. Just like her mother.
Selena walked to the bed that had no blankets or pillows. She climbed up the side without her mother’s help. She curled up on the side that her mother had slept on. Nobody was there to hold her. Nobody was there to tell her it would be okay.
As she lay there, she thought about where her mother was, and if she was thinking about her. She wondered if anyone would ever come to get her. She thought about what her father would think. She thought about if he would come down from heaven to get her. She wondered if she would go with him. She drifted off to sleep with thoughts of heaven and her father as the morning light gently kissed her cheeks.

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