Mary Margaret had been with us for several weeks before she dared show herself. We hadn’t known she was there. Like a small child spying on an older sibling, she watched us, sometimes from afar and sometimes nearby. She noted every move we made inside and outside that old house. My mallie and I later learned that she sometimes watched us from the front porch. Other times, she watched us from the back kitchen window where my mother and I had our most intimate talks. She also watched us on the many nights I fell asleep too scared to move, and too sad to wonder why. She saw all the hitting, punching, and those mean words that cut just deep enough to leave a scar but never seemed to heal.
Afterwards, I often wondered what went through her head as she witnessed our every move and figured us out, one sad human being at a time. What goes through the mind of any stranger, or any wondering spirit just sitting there and watching from a distance? I know I have a bad habit of using the word “family” too liberally; the truth is, my mallie and I lived with a man I called Pa, nothing more, nothing less. He was a distant man, sad and empty inside. He never seemed to try to be the fatherly caregiver I thought every girl of my age had.
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