Character Study: The Girl

Long and tall she was born. Skin and bones, too, because her mother, determined to walk out of the hospital in her skinny pants, had eaten only goat’s milk and cornbread during her pregnancy thereby almost starving her firstborn.

But the girl’s survival instinct was strong. So, using God’s very own system while plugged into her mother’s body, she sucked out all she could by way of minerals to build a strong frame and straight teeth. Her next four siblings were not so fortunate. Their mother’s body, thus depleted and, through the application of ego — Must remain thin! — did not restore her body’s resources ever again. Siblings, born with bad teeth and weak bones, complemented those deficits with nasty attitudes.

Still, the girl was a pretty child. Happy, too. Wide eyes taking in all around her yet silently asking why. She didn’t curl up like most babies do. Her legs remained straight, ready to walk, not away so much as toward. Her arms pushed hands toward the world, too, not for grasping and taking, but in a reserved bonhomie of investigation and understanding.

Yes, I want your friendship, but only for a short while as I have other things to think about and do and, frankly, you will not understand and you will slow me down.

This sentiment was never said out loud because she didn’t know she had it. But it was always felt by everyone she encountered. Therefore, the invitations that came her way were never for forever, but only for short visitations. People were always surprised when she got her feelings hurt, and those few times she spoke up about it they’d answer her with But you have places to go much better than this, so I assumed you wouldn’t want to stay.

The girl was destined to wander.

The problem, of course, was she didn’t have the money to wander physically, and she wasn’t willing to sell her body to get a free ride or lodging so the wandering she did was in her mind and cost her nothing. And besides, she could sleep in her own bed each night because what else the girl came to understand about herself was that she didn’t like to see new places.

Places — buildings, architecture, waterfalls, paths through mountains, fancy homes, foreign countries — none of these interested her; though she could fake massive interest, and often did to allow another person to feel that she cared about them, not one watt of genuine excitement could she generate for these things.

What mattered most to her, what was more important no matter where or when, were the people. And since people are people no matter where one goes or what age one lived in, she saw no need to wander too far from home as they all were close by.

The girl came to accept these things about herself, but what she always hated — and that would never change — was that she never was and never would be petite. For besides being tall and pretty, she was also broad-shouldered and strong as most men. Men never volunteered to help her pick up a box or carry a load. In fact, they often asked her to do it for them. She also never asked for help, for the few times she did she was turned down and, assuming from that she would never get help, stopped asking for it.

The girl, who by now was a woman and not such a young woman any more, still saw herself as that girl. Wide-eyed and always asking why. The older she got, the less people appreciated her seeking of knowledge and the verification of its foundational truths, and the less patience she had with chuckleheads.

She was a woman who would be missed but only in the Where is she now? curiosity and envy of her great adventures everyone assumed she was on, never that she might be sick, broke, or dead because it would never occur to anyone that anything bad could happen to the girl.

The girl knew her DNA could never be denied and that it afforded her limited opportunities because of how others reacted to her, and finally began to wonder if she would die as a homeless and broke bag lady, pushing a shopping cart around with what remained of her worldly goods while making notes about the people she met under those circumstances.

When her body was discovered — never frozen or murdered, old age would do her in — her careful notes would be discovered. Sociologists would study them for years because they would be brilliant and prescient to the extreme and, surrounded by mystery, somebody would begin to research her and find that she was born tall and skinny and strong because her mother’s ego insisted upon wearing her skinny pants home from the hospital.

Of course, a documentary would be made. An actress of world-renown would read the girl’s words thereby infusing an extra shot of brilliance that even the masses would be inspired by them.

Memes would make the rounds of social media. Quotes from her writings would be put into the lexicon of wise sayings quoted by business magazines and self-help gurus. She would have hated all of that, sort of, though her ego would have enjoyed it.

Old men, who once coveted — and later feared — her mind and body, would be found and allowed to talk about the girl. They would say they are not surprised by the prophetic nature of her words about mankind as there was always something… something… something….

They wouldn’t be able to, couldn’t, define what that something was, but they were honored to have been in its blinding light for even a short time. Then to a man, they would shake their heads and tear up saying If only I’d known, I would have asked her to live with me — no strings!

The documentary would earn awards and, of course, some well-meaning idiot would say See, we must help the poor homeless, but they would be wrong because what they don’t know is that some people are not meant for mortgages and clock-punching. They cannot fathom that some people have no choice but to take a walk through this world in a way that looks and may be painful, but to walk the way of the masses would have killed them while they were young.

These well-meaning people do not understand that knowledge and truth and education come from a wide array of angles and to deny that causes more problems than it solves.

The girl saw the steady march toward future — that is, after her death — understanding and acceptance of her nature and her knowledge and her abilities. She was not surprised.

Disappointed, maybe; but not surprised.