Fourteen years ago
I remember freezing- freezing weather; the kind of weather that turned lips blue and toes numb. But still, like the goof that I was, I was outside playing in two feet of near solid snow attempting to make a snowman.
“Psst!” and a giggle, was what I heard coming from a bush across the street near a mailbox. Everything was covered in snow so badly that my father was allowed a week off from his office at the firm . . . which was conveniently replaced with at home work. The naked eye could not separate road from sidewalk and the palest of persons would be lost. The wind was so loud- howling and screaming, bending heavy trees till they whined a warning. I was completely deaf and blind to all of this . . . all I cared about was my snowman. The typical six-year-old’s fantasy: a really- really big snowman.
“Psst!” and the giggle persist. I was really- really annoyed with being called away from my snowman and in return I answered the noise with a “What?”.
A pale, thick head of brown waves, and big doe eyed hazel eyes popped out of the bushes with her nose in her cuffed hands.
“H-how do you do that?” she asked me. More than once because I had to ask her to repeat herself several times before she realized she was covering her mouth along with her nose.
She smiled a friendly smile at me, but her eye, the kept asking a question her voice seemed never to ask.
“It’s very pwetty.” She said, mesmerized. She was walking across the street towards me, and I couldn’t help notice she didn’t look left and right. “Can I help?”
“Uh. . .” I was quite the speaker then, wasn’t I?
Still she tried to pick up some snow but where she was standing the snow was solid, yet still she persisted in trying to dig her fingers into it. I noticed she did not have on any gloves and that her hands were probably numb.
“What’s your name?” I asked her. She acted like she didn’t hear me. Or I thought she was acting, so I asked her again.
“E-Evaine .” She said, still scratching at solid snow with her numb fingers grunting now and then under her breath.
I looked at the sky and saw that it was a very dark grey and checked to see if the street light was on. It wasn’t so I turned my attention back to my project, but when I turned I saw her staring at her hand- her fingers specifically, they were bleeding in the nails and almost black with cold.
“Geez Louise!” I shouted as I snatched at her hands before dragging her into my house. I tried to find band aids and became so in tuned with that task I forgot her finger were practically frozen and ran back to her, she was standing in the living room looking around, and forced her to hold her hands under warm water. “You can’t go outside with no mittens on you’ll lose your fingers.”
She looked frightened when I said that. Which I took as a good sign that she wouldn’t do it again because that was how my dad taught me not to do certain things again: with fear, or with a spanking.
“I- I don’t wanna lose my fingers.” She said, I could see her eyes watering like she was about to cry.
“Oh, don’t cry, look,” I said nodding at her hands, which were now starting to color, “you fingers are fine.”
She smiled unsurely at me and kept her hands under the water until I came back with an old pack of band aids. “here,” I took her hand and wrapped a band aid around each finger, “there, now you’re good as new.”
She just stared at her hands sadly and then pointed her doey gaze at me. “I’m sorry,” she said quietly, “sometimes I forgets- sometimes I forget.”
She stared back at her hands.
I looked out the window and saw that the sky was black.
“Your mom’s really cool if she doesn’t mind you being out so late.” I said.
She looked through the window and stared, confused, out the window. Her face scrunched up with something like fear and remembrance.
“That’s not my mom, that’s just a lady my daddy likes a lot.” She said.
She pointed to a frantic figure outside in the snow.
“That lady . . . she look like she looking for something.” She said, staring at the lady who was, at that time, her stepmother. She was a tall lanky woman with frizzy blonde hair and dark eyes. She was a rabid smoker and an avid curser whom scared me to bits every time she pointed one of those boney fingers at me.
“Let’s go help her.” She said enthusiastically, completely forgetting about her fingers and how unhelpful they would be. But still I followed her.
“Hi! What are you looking for?” she said warmly, swinging her arms happily.
The woman glared at Evaine and spit out her current cigarette. I could smell its lung constricting scent from where I was standing, which was across the street.
“You stupid girl!” the woman shrieked. “What are you doing out here? Its freezing and- and look at your hands you fu-“
She stopped when she saw me.
Her glare didn’t falter but she did shut up and instead stomped clumsily cross the street. She snatched Evaine’s hand, purposefully tight.
“Owe!” Evaine cried, squirming around in her stepmother’s grasp. “T-t-that hurts!” she was crying.
“You stay away from her!” she hissed at me, dragging Evaine away from me, ignoring her cries.
What surprised me most was that through all of this Evaine still turned to me, her body wobbling pathetically with her mom’s direction, and she smiled and waved: “What’s your name?” the lady snatched at her and hissed something at her that I couldn’t hear, and she completely ignored.
“I-I’m Blayke!” I yelled out to her.
She smiled and said: “Oh!”
Her mother was a bitch.
And not in a way that makes me sound like some disrespectful douche. No, this woman was horrible. She was the wicked witch of the hood.
And I’m pretty sure she scared men away with her excessive wearing of short shorts. God! I do not miss her.
She treated Evaine terribly, and I wondered sometimes: “Where was her dad during all this?”
Her father was a good man, but ignorant. He was not at all a visual man; meaning he saw what he wanted to see. He had his moments when he would protect his daughter, but other than that it was almost like he wasn’t there. He was a big man, in the gut (he was one of those four beers a day men), and he had a receding hairline. I noticed that when he was paying any sort of attention to his daughter he was a kind man to her. He loved her. He loved to make her happy, and sometimes his wife felt that he was spoiling her; which, she felt, would not help Evaine’s “condition”.
I told my parents about her during dinner and they just looked at me as if I were telling them about my drunken imaginary friends.
I told them I really liked her and hated her parents; which they then made me correct by changing the word “hate” with “dislike”.
My mom stated that Evaine was a pretty girl.
That was all.
And my dad just looked at his plate.
I never brought her up again. I was embarrassed that she didn’t mean anything to them like she meant to me. I was mad because I knew there was something they weren’t telling me.