Her name wasMallory Withers. Though she had many others- Kiki, Izzy, Betty, Christy. Those are just a few of the titles she gave herself. She was a ballerina, a singer, an actress. She was a swimmer, an athlete, and a princess. She was whatever she wanted to be, whenever she wanted to be it. She would giggle, and she would cry. She was innocent. If there was ever a girl that could light up a gray and cloudy sky, it was Mallory. She was full of life, always daydreaming, wanting to go on adventures. She loved to dress up around the house, but wore ripped jeans and old t-shirts outside.
I remember an afternoon I had spent with her. There had been many, but one stood out in my mind now. I was sitting on their back deck, watching her perform a dance number she had been working on for days. It was to the song Pocketful of Sunshine by Natasha Bedingfield. It consisted of a lot of swinging her arms in an ape-like manner and twirling, her eyes trained on the sky.
I didn’t know…
I smiled at her and cheered when she finished, smiling and flushed as she bowed gallantly. I had screamed and begged for an encore, and she laughed and began to dance again. There was no music the second time. I remember standing and dancing with her, flailing around just as much and her laughing at me. When we finally stopped, I told her that it was time to go in and I would fix her lunch.
I remember her mother coming home and watching Mallory’s sunny smile disappear. She became withdrawn and she begged her mother to let me stay. But Mrs. Withers just smiled and shook her head, saying that I surely had something better to do than hang around with a ten year old girl. I really didn’t, but I took it as a dismissal. She would pay me and I would leave, despite Mallory’s feeble attempts to get me to stay. ”I’ll be back tomorrow,” I would say, and she would hug me tightly, nodding slowly.
Yesterday I was excited. I actually had a date at seven! I had been crushing on Jonathan Foreman for weeks, and when he’d asked me out I had thought I’d died and gone to heaven. When I’d arrived at Mallory’s, I was so practically jumping up and down. The entire day was a blur, and I hadn’t paid as much attention to Mallory as I usually did. I didn’t notice the bruises on her forearms that I now remember clearly. I didn’t pay attention to her lack of energy, to the dark circles under her young eyes. How could I have been so blind?
When Mrs. Withers got home at six, I took the money, waved goodbye to Mallory, and dashed out of the house. Oh, how stupid could I have been? I ignored her pleas for me to take her with me, for me to stay with them. After all, I had a date!
“It wasn’t your fault, miss Hansen. You didn’t know it would happen.”
The words echoed over and over in my mind. I didn’t know it would happen? Of course I didn’t. Nobody would have done it if they had known the results. Unless you enjoy things like that, of course. How you could enjoy something to tragic is beyond my comprehension. Had I known he was like that, I would never have left. Had I known that she would end up this way, I would have taken her with me. Of course I didn’t know! …Did I?
Mallory was a dancer, a singer, and an actress. She was a fireman, a police officer, and a princess. Her smile had lit up the midnight sky and her laughter was enough to bring a grin to anyone’s face. But now nobody else would know. Mallory would never be a broadway star, or a fairy princess. Her smile would never shine. She would never dance, she would never sing. She would never get married, have a baby. She would never reach her eighteenth birthday, finish high school, or go to college. No, now buried beneath worm infested dirt with only a rock to tell her story, Mallory would become another shadowed memory. She would be naught but a body in a grave.
All because I didn’t know.
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