The End of a Childhood
Valandra Watson was so excited to get home from school. She had gotten an A+ on her english paper and couldn’t wait to get home and show Meredith. The 13 year old girl got off the school bus at the corner. It was just a block away to get to her house. But as the little girl moved, backpack bouncing against her lower back as she walked, she realized something was wrong. There was an ambulance parked in front of the street. Mrs. Potters was outside, her little yorkie on a pink leash. Val wondered what was wrong, but dread started to fill her as she got closer and closer, realizing that the ambulance was in front of her house.
Val ran past a policeman on her porch as he stood there jotting things in a notepad. He cried out after her but she was already inside. “Mom?” Val yelled out to Meredith. Had she fallen? Where was she? Was she hurt? “Mom!” Val called out a little more panicked now when Meredith didn’t call out to her.
The police officer’s hand landed on her shoulder to turn her towards him.
“Where’s my mother?” Val asked, panic creeping into the young girl’s words.
“I’m so sorry,” the officer said. He started talking, but Val’s ears started to ring and she couldn’t hear anything. Her hands went cold and numb and her head started to shake of its own accord.
She shrugged off his hands, running to the kitchen. Meredith had to be in the kitchen. They were going to bake cookies tonight. In the kitchen, Val’s legs went out from under her. There was a black body bag on a stretcher. She could make out the contours of a body. No no no no no no no no no.
Val couldn’t believe this. She had to see Mer. She wouldn’t believe it unless she saw it. So she strode to the black bag and unzipped it. Val took in Meredith’s features in fractions. A golden curl falling across Meredith’s forehead, and then another and another until Val recognized Meredith’s curly mane of hair. Next there was an eyebrow, a couple of stray hairs were growing back and Val knew that Meredith would be plucking them soon to keep them in order. There was a small crease between her eyebrows, a little frown line that only appeared when Val came home with a bad grade or she was worried about something. Her skin was too pale, Val realized, but she followed the pale skin down the bridge of Meredith’s nose to her lips. They were matte pink, just a shade darker than Mer’s lips. An eye was next. Val gasped when she met Meredith’s blue eyes with her own. Everything went blurry and a moment later a water drop landed on Meredith’s face and Val realized that it was her own tears falling onto her mother’s face.
The sound suddenly turned back on for her. The police officer was at her side trying to get her away from the both but seemingly afraid to touch her, not wanting to upset her more. Val trailed her hand over Meredith’s eyes to close them. Then she gripped Mer’s shoulders, laying her head on the woman’s chest. She clung to her mother’s body crying for what seemed to be hours, but was likely only minutes.
Then the police officer pulled her away, they zipped the body bag and took Meredith away. A social worker came and took Val. A heart attack they had said, she didn’t feel any pain, they had said, everything was going to be alright they had said. But nothing would be alright again. Because Meredith was dead and Val had never felt so alone in her life.