Estimated reading time — 5 minutes
The following was dictated to me by my niece, who is currently eight years old.
To the best of my knowledge, all of the events took place as described, although the names of the people involved have been changed to protect their privacy.
Mr. Scant was there when Grammy died. He said that I shouldn’t be sad, because she was going away to a better place. Mommy and Daddy didn’t say anything to him, and they didn’t even look at me; they just held each other while Mommy cried. The doctor covered Grammy with a sheet, and then stood in the corner with his hands in front of him, pretending not to see anything that was happening in the small room.
Mr. Scant said I was very brave.
I can’t remember when I met him for the first time. I think I was still five years old, and he helped me when the truck drove by and hit my dog Dale. Mr. Scant told me that I should bury Dale near the flowers, so that I would think of him when they bloomed. Mommy said she didn’t know we had a neighbor by that name, but he had already left, so she had to wait until the neighborhood barbecue. He came then, too, and Mommy told him that she liked his suit, but wondered if it wasn’t a bit hot for the summer.
Mr. Scant always wore black suits. He had short silver hair, but he looked younger than Daddy, who was thirty. Mommy said he was a lawyer, but I never saw him with a briefcase. He was always nice to me, and always wanted to talk to me more than the other grown-ups. Mommy said it was because he didn’t have a daughter of his own. Daddy said it was because it was a way to get Mommy to like him more. I think Daddy was jealous of Mr. Scant’s good looks.
When I was six, Mr. Scant came to dinner with a woman. She looked like a doctor, but she didn’t have a lab coat, and she didn’t wear glasses. Mommy said it wasn’t polite to stare, but I’d never seen a person with a missing finger before. Her name was Mrs. Sera, but she let me call her Lisa. She brought a cake for dessert. I wanted to talk to Mr. Scant some more, but he said he was sorry, and that he could only stay for awhile. He said he had an emergency business meeting that night. Daddy was sad, but Mommy was okay, because Lisa was going to stay. It was a good thing, too, because there was a car crash outside and she had to run out to help people. The ambulance was too slow for the driver of one car, but everyone else was okay after awhile.
Mr. Scant took me to his house the next day and told me about alcohol. He made me promise to never be in the car with someone who had drunk some. I said I promised, and I meant it. Mr. Scant smiled, and then we went out for ice cream. Lisa bought me a ribbon for my hair.
I liked Lisa. Sometimes she would bring Mommy groceries when Mommy was too sick to go out. Whenever we were alone, she would tell me stories from the Bible. I told her once that my friend Jenny went to church, and she smiled and told me not to forget that they were just stories like any others. I liked the way she told them better than how Jenny told them. Whenever I got new hair ties, ribbons, bows, or clips, Lisa would always help me try them on so that I could surprise Mommy. Then she’d let me play with her hair… I liked Lisa’s hair. It was blonde and brown all at the same time, and it looked like gold in the sunshine.
Lisa always said I that would be prettier than her someday. It made me feel proud.
One day Mr. Scant brought Mommy a green plant in a little blue box. He said it was to replace the one that had died in her window garden. Mommy said that all the plants in her garden were fine, but Mr. Scant showed her one and told her it was going to die soon. I asked Daddy how a lawyer could tell when a plant was going to die, and he said “He probably poisoned the dirt,” but he was smiling so I knew he was kidding. Mommy thanked Mr. Scant for the plant, and didn’t seem surprised at all when the one in the window garden wilted two days later. Lisa said Mr. Scant had a green thumb. His fingers all looked normal to me. Mommy’s garden grew really well after that, and the flowers were brighter than ever.
I was seven when it happened. The next day was my first day of second grade. Mr. Scant and Lisa took me out to buy school supplies, and then bought me lunch. It was the first time I ever saw him look sad, but he wasn’t talking about sad things. He kept telling me that school was going to be fun and that before I knew it, the year would be over and I’d be in third grade. He said that I could even go to college someday, and that was kind of scary, but it made me feel special that he believed in me that much. Lisa was smiling the whole time, but she looked sad, too. I didn’t know why, and they didn’t tell me, they just took me home.
That night, I went over to Grammy’s house for a special dinner. It was so much fun, and she even gave me a pair of pretty new shoes to wear for the first day. I was trying them on and looking at myself in the mirror when the fire happened. Grammy kept yelling for me to get out of the house, but I was so scared that I couldn’t move. The fire truck came, and then an ambulance, and they rushed us to the hospital. Grammy was crying on the way there, and the men who worked in the ambulance were trying to keep her calm. Nobody talked to me, even though I was scared, too.
Mr. Scant was there when Grammy died. That’s how I knew everything was okay. He walked into the little room through the curtain, and he smiled at me. I could see Lisa behind him, but she didn’t come in. She waved at me, though. Mr. Scant walked over to Grammy’s side and brushed some of her hair off of her face. That’s when the doctor put the sheet over Grammy, and Mommy started crying. I wanted to tell her that everything was going to be okay, because I knew that it would be. That’s something Mr. Scant taught me once. Mr. Scant always knew what the good side of things looked like, and always made sure that I could see it, too. He said that most grown-ups were afraid to be optimists, and then told me what that meant. It seemed silly to me that grown-ups always looked at the bad side of things. Mr. Scant said it was silly.
He looked at his watch, and we walked back through the curtains. I tried to get up and follow him, but Lisa shook her head and smiled at me.
“Not yet,” she said. I didn’t know what she meant, but I told her I would wait. She smiled, then she took Mr. Scant’s hand and they walked away.
The doctor told Mommy that I would be fine when I woke up.
Credit: Dove Pharaoh