Precious Pearl

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
There I stood, the blind definition of innocence, at the corner of the playground. The wind weighed heavy with the scent of rain and the clouds were tinted grey.

Submitted: December 21, 2010

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Submitted: December 21, 2010

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There I stood, the blind definition of innocence, at the corner of the playground. The wind weighed heavy with the scent of rain and the clouds were tinted grey. I watched as the leaves chased each-other, swirling in circles on the black pavement at the corner of 5th and Pine St.

“You are going to get run over.” I warned them, but they didn’t listen, they just kept dancing.

Cheek pressed firmly against the fence, I waited.

“Its almost time to go inside.” Suzie yelled to me from across the playground. I pretended not to hear her.

“Come on Banana!”

“Just a minute,” I yelled back.

I watched the leaves swirl and twirl and then quickly dive to opposite corners of the street at the very moment a car would have otherwise crushed them. Maybe they were listening after all.

The school bell rang, the day was over, and I knew I would have to wait until Monday for our next encounter.

It was my birthday, yet not a single person remembered to wish me a Happy Birthday. Not even my teacher who had it jotted in orange marker on her desk calendar since the beginning of the year. Not even my best friend Suzie. People only cared when you brought cookies or candy for them. Shouldn’t they bring me cookies?

* * *

I returned home from school and Kelly was waiting for me in the kitchen, as she always was. Her hair messily wound through an elastic band and her young face and hands absent of jewelry or makeup. She used to look so pretty.

“Hey sweetie. How was your day.”

“Fine.”

“What did you learn today?”

“Nothing.”

“Your parents are out for the night again. I made spaghetti for dinner. Go wash up.”

“Yes ma’am.”

I never understood why she felt the need to tell me that my parents were out for the night again. In fact, it was rare that they were home. It was almost like she was rubbing it in or trying to be a replacement of sorts. I resented her for that even though she had never said or done anything to deserve it. She was only seven years older than me. Why would she want to pretend to be a mother already?

After dinner and homework, I went to my bedroom, my favorite room in the house. The walls were my favorite color, baby blue. Kelly had used sponges and Q-tips to paint white clouds and silver stars on the ceiling.

Three wooden China cabinets took up most of my bedroom.

One was filled with Pendalin Pony figurines, which I had collected since the day I was born. Each year my grandparents would get me a new one for my birthday. I was hoping for Nutmeg that year.

The second cabinet was filled with snow globes from all the different states that I had traveled to with my parents. I even had one from New York where I saw The Statue of Liberty. I was for some reason strangely proud of that one.

The third China cabinet held my favorite collection, my porcelain dolls. I pulled five of my favorite dolls from their stands and dressed them, one by one, into their color coordinated pajamas. I loved them all, but I liked Pearl the best because she had the prettiest hair.

“Goodnight Yasmine, Goodnight Holly, Goodnight Penelope, Goodnight Sasha, and Goodnight Pearl.”

I couldn’t wait until Monday. I remembered feeling that way often. I wondered why everyone else looked forward to the weekends so much.

* * *

Monday morning, Kelly helped me get ready for school and pack my lunch. It was a nice and sunny day so I made sure to dress Pearl in her favorite polka dot dress and tied a yellow ribbon in her hair.

The school day took forever. Mr. B, my Social Studies teacher made us watch a movie and take notes for the third day in a row. I barely had room left on my spiral notebook for doodles. When the bell finally rang, I could barely control my excitement. I ran outside, backpack dangling open and shirt sticky with paper machete, up to the fence. I stared mindlessly at the corner of 5th and Pine St. where his blue car was normally parked. Upon noticing that it wasn’t there, my shoulders dropped and my eyes dimmed. I glanced over at the leaves, which had now been raked into neat little piles where they could have no fun.

Minutes later I saw his car round the corner. My cheeks hurt from smiling so big. His beautiful blue eyes were glistening in the sun, his dark brown hair cute and messy just like I liked it. I waved to him and he waved back at me. He had the cutest smile I had ever seen. We didn’t even have to speak for me to know that he felt the same way I did. Sometimes we just sat and stared at each other, content in smiling and blowing kisses until recess was over. The leaves must have felt ignored whenever he was around.

Butterflies fluttered in my stomach as I imagined the two of us together holding hands and watching movies in the dark. The mere thought of what his voice might sound like made me quiver. I wondered if I would ever have to courage to speak to him.

“Come on!” Suzie’s voice called to me.

“I’ll be right there.”

I didn’t want to leave but I knew that I had to go so that no one would see him. I waved again and ran back to the playground where Suzie had spelled her name out with rocks and underlined it with little twigs.

“That’s all you wanted?” I asked her with disappointed frustration

“Lets make your name!” she suggested as she started collecting more tiny pebbles.

“I don’t feel like it right now. Maybe tomorrow.”

“Ok. Fine!”

Suzie seemed so young and so naïve. I felt much older then, and I had different ideas of fun that did not involve rocks or twigs.

I regret not taking the time to appreciate that tiny childish moment forever lost.

I spent the rest of the week staring at that same corner and watching the leaves play in the street every recess and every day after school was over. Just waiting for him. He didn’t come.

* * *

That weekend, my parents threw one of their big fancy parties. They claimed it was for my Birthday, but I knew that it was just another excuse for them to dress up and invite all of their friends over to drink wine. My mother forced me to wear this ridiculous frilly pink dress. She knew I hated pink. She always said that pink is the color pretty girls are supposed to wear. Maybe that’s why she always wore a black dress.

The first hour of the party, everyone said happy birthday and handed me gifts which weren’t allowed to be opened until the next day and the rest of the night was filled with adult conversation which meant I was shooed to the rec-room with all the four year olds to watch T.V. and play videogames. Since I was the oldest, I was the one left in charge, the designated babysitter.

Aside from the once a month occasion of my parents parties, my house was always empty. An enormous waste of property, stacked with an enormous waste of wood and siding. Suzie’s house may have only been the size of my rec-room, but at least they used all of its space and had fun there.

After a tea party with my cousin Shelly, Mr. frog and a troll, I went upstairs for a soda. All the grown-ups were laughing and having a great time. I considered just walking out the door and running as fast as I could forever, but I didn’t know where I would go. The stores were all closed and you can’t stay in a park past 10. I chose to stay, although I was positive that noone would have noticed if I was gone, besides Shelly and the troll maybe.

As I made my way back to the rec-room, I saw him. Could it be? It was my secret friend. What was he doing? How did he know I lived here? His hair was combed and face shaven. I wouldn’t have even recognized him if he hadn’t been staring through me with those stained-glass, blue eyes.

Once we made eye contact, he started walking towards me. I fumbled to flatten the frizzies in my hair and smooth out the frills in my cupcake dress. I stared at him, almost frozen in disbelief as my nerves punched my stomach.

“Happy birthday, beautiful. How old are you now?”

His voice was much deeper than I had imagined, but it was perfect.

“Eleven.”

“Wow, you’ll be in middle school next year. Well, I hope you are having a good time.”

“I am.” I lied

He softly touched my cheek and then walked away. My eyes followed him into the dining-room where he pulled up a seat next to Kelly and continued to sip a glass of red wine. What was he doing here? Did Kelly know him? Why was he talking to her instead of me? I wandered back down to the rec-room, with all of the four year olds and colored a picture of a bumble bee wearing a floral hat. I concluded that this had topped the charts as my worst birthday ever.

* * *

Monday morning, Kelly helped me get ready for school and pack my lunch. It was a nice and sunny day so I made sure to dress Pearl in her favorite polka dot dress.

I had a funny feeling in my stomach all day and I couldn’t stop thinking about whether or not I would smile this time when I saw him or if he would notice that I wore my new shoes.

The hours passed slowly, which made the end of the day seem even more rewarding. As the bell rang, I anxiously fixed my hair and ran outside to my corner. There he was. I waved to him and he waved back at me. I made sure not to smile at him so that he would know that I was upset with him for talking to Kelly. But this time he didn’t just wave and smile or blow me a kiss, this time he gestured for me to come over to him. I knew that if I did I could get caught and get in big trouble.

“I can’t.” I mouthed back.

He held up a picture of a little girl but I could barely see it. He waved me over again. I looked behind me to make sure that no one was looking and when it was clear, I snuck through the gate. Clumsy with excitement, I stumbled to his car

“Hello beautiful,”

“Hi.”

“It’s good to see you again,” His voice was deep and rattled my chest.

“I’m happy that you came today,” I said as I nervously chewed my fingernail.

“I wouldn’t want to miss seeing you on your first day of school as an eleven year old.” he smiled.

“Actually my real birthday was last week.”

“Oh, really?”

“How come you were at my house?”

“I am friends with your dad.”

“Really?” I asked with disgust.

“Yes.”

“I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”

“I’m not a stranger, I’m a parent. My daughter goes to school here too. Her name is Lillian.”

He again held up the photo of the little girl. I could see it clearly now. It was a familiar face that I though I might have seen before. She had locks of blonde hair, big blue eyes, and reminded me of Shirley Temple.

He was very cool and very handsome for a parent.

“You two should have a sleepover some time. I will make brownies and rent movies.”

“Yea! That sounds like a lot of fun.”

“Maybe this weekend.”

“I don’t think my parents will let me.”

“Why not?”

“Because they don’t usually let me do sleepovers.”

“Well, you know me, I see you all the time.”

His smile was even more handsome up close. My hands shook from being so nervous. I didn’t want him to stop visiting me.

“Well maybe I just won’t tell them.”

“Can I pick you up from school Friday?”

“Sure, will Lillian be there?”

“She has soccer practice but we can pick her up after that.”

“Ok.”

“You aren’t going to chicken out on me are you?”

“No.” I assured him

I snuck back in through the gate. No-one saw me, Not even Suzie. She was off playing hop scotch with Emily, my replacement.

* * *

It was the end of the day on Friday, the only weekend that I had ever remembered looking forward to. I had left most of my school supplies at home that morning and instead, filled my backpack with a few articles of clothing, my paint set and Pearl who was still in her polka dot dress.

All the other kids stood in the appropriate lines to catch the appropriate buses, which were labeled with color coded animals. I, the rebel, snuck to the side of the building and waited until they were all gone.

When the coast was clear, I peeked around the bushes and there he was. My heart jumped and what I was doing suddenly felt more real. My fingers trembled. I knew I shouldn’t go but I wanted to be near him. I snuck through the fence and ran to his car.

“You remembered! Don’t worry no one saw.” he said as he opened the passenger door.

“That was scary.”

“Hop in.”

I jumped into his car, plopped down into the passenger seat and sunk my head down so I wouldn‘t be visible to anyone walking by. The inside of his car smelled good and was very clean, which I found strange and he had a four leaf clover dangling from his keychain.

“Ice cream?” he asked with a big grin.

“Sure!”

We drove for a while and then pulled into a driveway in front of a small white house with green shutters.

“I thought we were getting ice-cream.”

“We are. This is my house.”

______________

“Oh, I thought you meant at Dairy Queen or something.”

“Well, I just wanted you to see my house. Is that ok/”

“Yea. Ok. Is Lillian home?”

“No, she decided to sleep at her mother’s house tonight, but you will meet her soon don’t worry.”

“I was slightly confused but I didn’t think too much of it.”

He opened the door to his house and I followed him inside.

“Well, this is it.” he smiled with his arms extended.

His house was very small and very empty. He didn’t have any pictures on the walls, there were no magnets on the fridge, no collections and not a single china cabinet. I remember thinking that it was almost too clean and seemed more like a hotel room than a house. The lights were dim, the sound quiet, and the air saturated with incense and potpourri.

“And this is the kitchen where I keep all the good stuff.”

He opened the freezer and there were five different tubs of ice-cream.

“I didn’t know which kind was your favorite so I bought a variety.”

“That was nice of you. I’ll have cookie dough.”

“That’s my favorite too.”

We sat on his couch and watched Funny videos while eating our ice-cream. I laughed as a dog struggled to get its head free from a fence. I immediately felt comfortable there with him. I leaned my head on his chest and he slowly reached over and touched my hand.

“You are an amazing girl, you know that?”

“No,” I mumbled with my mouth full of ice cream.

He leaned back away from me with a confused and angered look on his face.

“No? What do you mean no?”

“I don’t know. I just don’t feel that way,” I giggled

“You are amazing.” he said again as he leaned forward and kissed my cheek.

“Well I think you are amazing.” I said back to him

“You don’t already have a boyfriend do you?”

“No.” I giggled back, “I don’t have a boyfriend.”

“Good.”

He pulled me closer to him and held me tightly in his arms until I fell asleep. I had never been happier.

The next morning I woke up to the smell of pancakes and bacon.

“I made you breakfast.” he said to me with a big grin as he brought a plate. Was this real?

“I can eat on the couch?”

“Of course you can. You can do whatever you want when you are here.”

His eyes were so pale I could almost see through them. How could something so vacant looking penetrate me so deeply?

Days and nights went by. With his help, I had decided that there was no reason for me to go home to my parents. I was convinced that they didn’t care about me. We watched the news as both my mother and father pleaded for my safe return. We watched them cry and watched videos of them trying to find me. They were so close. We just laughed like it was a game of hide and seek. It made me sad at times but I knew that it was just another chance for my parents to use me as a way of getting the attention they wanted.

* * *

“D”, as he told me to call him, assured me that I was making the right decision and that he would take better care of me than anyone else ever could. I whole-heartedly trusted and believed him. Why wouldn’t I?

The way he held my hands with his fingers curled so gently between mine, the way he brushed my stray hairs from over my eyes and tucked them behind my ear, the way he could make my skin tingle from 20 feet away just at the sight of him….I knew that this must be love, it had to be, because nothing else on earth could possibly feel this wonderful.

I had never been so happy.

He once asked me, “So do you wonder how I knew that out of all the girls on the playground, you were the most special?”

“How?”

“I picked you over all the rest because you had the prettiest hair.”

He always knew just what to say to make me smile. I lived with D for five weeks. I didn’t go to school and I was rarely allowed outside. He let me play video games all day long, eat whatever I wanted, stay up late and watch scary movies. He let me kiss him and we would play games that boyfriends and girlfriends play.

* * *

I remember so clearly the afternoon of June 16th. It was the first day of the 6th week. We had breakfast as usual and got ready for the day. I wore my polka dot T-shirt and tied a yellow ribbon in my hair.

Around 10:30 I looked out of the kitchen window and saw a little girl walking a dog “Is that Lillian?” I still hadn’t gotten to meet her. He didn’t reply.

I watched her for a while and then I regretfully asked

“D can I go to the park? I’m tired of playing video games all day.”

“No Honey, what if your parents are there and they try to take you away from me?”

“But I can wear a hat and glasses so they wont know its me.”

“Just sit tight a little longer and we will be able to move away together to a place where we can go outside whenever we want to and not be afraid.”

“But I don’t feel so well, I think I need some fresh air. I miss my friends and Pearl doesn’t like it here.”

He kissed my cheek and hugged me with the most sincerity. I stared back out the window, there were no leaves, just boring pine needles. D came up behind me and started to massage my neck. His hands were soft and gentle as he caressed my shoulders and then slowly crept down the front of my shirt. I was scared but shaking with excitement. I knew he shouldn’t be touching me there but I liked it and I didn’t want him to stop. His kiss was soft and romantic and his lips were warm.

“Have you ever kissed a boy before?” he always asked me.

“No.” I would respond.

“No wonder you taste so sweet.”

He assured me that everything would be fine and that I could start a different school once everyone stopped looking for me and that I had no need to worry. I believed him.

He was the love of my life and we were going to get married once I turned 18 but that was seven years away. I was told that since we were unable to legally confirm our marriage, we had to physically confirm it if God was going to accept us as a couple. We had discussed it several times and on that day, June 16th, I gave in.

“I think I’m ready for our confirmation.“

“Are you sure?“ he asked

“Yes.“

“Ok, let me go get you something to drink.“

I looked into his eyes and he seemed so far away. He almost seemed sad. He came back with a cup of Gatorade and told me that it would relax my nerves.

“I’m ready.”

As he undid the button on my pants I started to cry. I wasn’t even sure at the time why I was crying because I thought that this was what I wanted. My tears only seemed to make him want me more. He slid his hand down in between my thighs and touched me somewhere I never thought I would be touched. I expected this moment to be magical, I expected a rush of happiness, passion and glory, but it was anything but. Almost instantly, the discomfort was too much to bear. I asked, then wretchedly begged him to stop. I looked into his hollow empty eyes and everything inside me had changed. My intense lust turned into panic, my comfort into fear, my foolish infatuation into hatred. My stomach started to cramp and my vision blurred.

“I don’t feel good! I don’t feel good!”

He finally stopped and told me to drink more Gatorade to calm me down.

“I want to go home.” I pleaded.

“Sweetie, I didn’t mean to come on so strongly. I would never want to hurt you. I thought that you wanted to be my girlfriend.”

“I did.”

“Well can you please forgive me? I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“I forgive you.” I nodded with tears in my eyes.

I forgave him and then I went to sleep.

* * *

“After a six week long search, the body of Annabelle Hicks was found in a ditch along side 7 mile road. The crime scene was almost identical to that of Lillian Barker, whose body was discovered less than 4 months prior. Both of the girls heads were shaved when their bodies were found and autopsies showed that in both cases, the girls had been poisoned by ingesting ethylene glycol which is the active ingredient of antifreeze. Both were sexually assaulted and left naked on the side of the road only two miles apart from one another, and only five miles from the elementary school they had both attended. Investigators have few leads, but hope that DNA samples will point them towards a suspect.”

To all of the world, that was all that was ever told of my story. A one paragraph statement that took two minutes for a news broadcaster to emotionlessly blurt out. A two minute story squeezed in between a bank robbery and the local gas prices. A short gasping moment soon forgotten and insignificant after the first commercial break.

And then, away I went. Stuffed into a manila envelope and then placed into a cold file cabinet alongside all the others who were also tossed aside and forgotten. That is where I have restlessly remained for seven years now.


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