Little Beau's Ink

November 16, 2010
The soft droplets of cool, blue rain pattered almost silently on the glass pane window. The tree branches outside the window mimicked the wind’s low chatter in a solemn dance, tapping against the window frame like drums. I brushed away the dust that suffocated the closet floor where I sat, huddled in tight ball. My eyes had gradually become accustomed to the darkness surrounding me, and the black blob in front of my face transformed into a wooden door with a bright lace at the bottom where the light shone through. It reminded me of a dress my mother had sewn for me when I was a little girl. It was made of long, black velvet that went down to my ankles, and at the end there was a thin, white lace that tickled my toes. My mother would swing me around, and my dress would twirl in the air like the flowing ribbon she would tie in my little golden locks…
The sweet memory faded as the rain dropped harder against the distant window that hid the outside world, and once again I was alone. It had been so quiet in the small house that I was startled when I heard the floor creak once, then twice. Perhaps there was a mouse scavenging for bits of leftover food scrapings or crumbs to nibble. Go look elsewhere, mouse. There’s nothing to find. Nothing for you and nothing for me. There was another creak in the wooden panels, this time louder and much too forceful to be done by a mouse. My frail fingers brushed by a slip of paper and a quill pen in the corner of the closet. I reached for the paper and took the pen in my right hand, sliding it through my fingers to find the tip and set it on the paper. My mother had taught me how to write long ago with a pen much like this one. Ever since then all I would ever do was write and write and write, about random silly things that only a little girl would think to write. Father didn’t like it, though. He’d always take my paper and pens and hide it somewhere.
Now, I took the pen I had missed so dearly and wrote: Who’s there? I slid the little note through the crack beneath the door and curiously waited. A moment later the note came back through the crack, barely skimming my bare toes.
It read: Little Beau Jenson. Who are you?
My name’s Lizzy. How old are you? I wrote. I slipped the paper back under the door. Once again, it came back.
Hello Lizzy. It’s very nice to meet you. I’m seven years old. I giggled inside.
You are! So am I! We must be twins! The rain calmed down as I waited for a reply from my mysterious friend.
Well, I don’t think that’s possible because we have different moms and different dads. My mom’s name is Rosalie Jenson. Where’s your mom? I sighed sadly as I read Beau’s note, thinking about the times my mother had swung me around in my little, black dress with white lace.
My mother died. I wrote. She got the fever one day and went to sit in the garden she kept in heaven. She always talked about it.
What was in the garden? I smiled.
Oh, there were rabbits and flowers, millions of colorful flowers. She said there were birds, too, that nestled in the trees and laid little eggs the size of my thumb. Oh, and butterflies! They came in all shapes and colors. They would even land in your hair and braid it with their little weaving, needle-like arms. My mother said I would see them someday.
My mom has a garden, too. But there’s no flowers, just vegetables and fruit trees. My dad sells the oranges from our trees for ten cents each. I’ve had one. They’re really good!
I wish I had a garden and fruit trees. My dad never gets any oranges. He gives me some bread and brown beans and rice a lot. Sometimes, when he’s happy, he gives me hot soup and a cookie. But I don’t get that very often. When mother was alive, I always got tasty chicken and warm tortillas with melted butter. For dessert, she gave me a slice of chocolate cake that she baked in the oven. Father said she spoiled me too much, whatever that means. I slid the note under a little too fast this time and jammed my fingers in the door causing me to whimper. I struggled back the little tears that were forming around my soft eyelids. There was no need for it to rain inside and out.
Little Beau Jenson must have heard my soft cry. Are you okay, Lizzy?
Yes. It only hurts a little. I wish Mother were here to kiss it like she always did.
Why are you in the closet, Lizzy? Why don’t you come out and play with me?
I would like to very much little Beau, but the door’s locked. It won’t budge. I could hear the knob turn slowly, squeaking as little Beau twisted it back and forth.
This darn door! We could’ve played hide-and-go-seek! That’s my favorite!
Oh! I always play that with my dad when he’s angry. I just go hide somewhere in the house. There are so many places to hide. Sometimes I hide behind my bedroom door or beneath my bed because the bedspread ruffles cover me on the bottom. One time I hid in the pantry. That made father real mad and that makes me happy because then I know that he won’t find me for a long time.
When I slid the now ink soaked note beneath the door, I heard a little giggle and pressed my ear against the door to hear more clearly. He was laughing at me. He was laughing at my note.
My Daddy gets mad when he can’t find me, too. He looks everywhere but never finds me. Then I jump out of my hiding spot and say, “Here I am!” Then he gives me a pat on the back and says, “You did good, Little Beau! You won fair n’ square!”
The note came back beneath the door and I read his fine, excited writing. My daddy pats me on the back when he finds me, too. But his pat hurts and he blows up like one of those volcanoes on the tv, except that none of that red stuff comes out. He just gets real angry and starts yelling real loud. I really wish he wouldn’t do that. It hurts my ears.
Well, that’s not very nice. He shouldn’t do that or the people with the blue coats and badges will come after him. I seen ‘em before. Some guy on the streets was yellin’ like of them loud roosters goin’ off about some lady who wouldn’t let him back into the house to see the children, whatever that means. Then those guys with the badges nabbed him. I seen it with my own eyes.
Oh they won’t get my Daddy. He plays hide-and-go-seek with them just like me. But they never find him. He says we always gotta move to a different hiding spot.
By now the rain outside had come to a slow, steady sprinkle and mist that left a sheet of water crystals on the grass and tree branches outside. I began to remember all the places we had gone. After Mom died, we went to the little farmhouse in Alabama where I got to take care of the cows and the goats and the chickens. Then we went to the motel in Georgia where we had to sneak in a window so that the people there wouldn’t take my dad’s money. He had almost forgot me when we went to Louisiana but I caught up to him just as the bus doors were closing. He looked mad, probably because the bus driver had closed the doors on me. Then we ended up here. I didn’t know where we were because he had blindfolded me. All I knew is that we were in a little house and my dad put me in the closet to protect me from all of the bugs.
Suddenly the note came back. Lizzy, it’ll all be okay. You can come live with me and be like my sister and we’ll eat lots of oranges until we burst. And my folks will love ya. We’ll be like the perfect family.
I smiled and used the light under the door to find another place to write. Oh, I’d like that very much, Little Beau. As soon as I get out of this closet we can be together and play. It’ll be perfect. We’ll be a family right here in- Little Beau? Where are we?
I waited and waited but the note didn’t come back. Then I heard the sound of a car door slamming outside and the doors downstairs banging against the wall as someone came in and started climbing up the stairs.
“Little Beau!” I yelled. “You have to leave! My dad’s back! He’ll put you in the closet, too, and then we’ll both be stuck in here!” I banged my fists against the door, but I knew he couldn’t hear me. Then the door of the closet opened and a shower of light encircled my frail body. As my eyes adjusted, I could feel someone picking me up out of the shadows. It wasn’t my dad or the official-looking people or even Little Beau. It was my mother. She was smiling and stroking my hair, whispering in my ear, “It’s okay now, Lizzy. You’re in the garden. Look!” And I saw the beautiful meadow and wildflowers stretching in every direction. Clouds danced in the free blue sky above the pearl, white trees embedded in the earth. Butterflies greeted me and braided my hair just like my mother said they would. Then she picked me up and twirled me around in a dress far more beautiful than I’d ever worn before. And then there was Little Beau sitting beneath an orange tree. I ran to him and he handed me an orange. It’s succulent juice rolled down my face and quenched my lips. Finally he handed me a note: We’re in the garden. You’re out of the closet and we can be together and play. It’s perfect. We’re a family right here in the garden.
Then I took his hand and my mother’s and we all ran, dancing in the meadow beneath the vibrant sunset towards a giant piece of chocolate cake.

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