Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

He Said He Loves Me

Judith O. Anderson


He said he loves me, but he lied. You don’t hurt people you love.

Momma says he is handsome and charming.

Daddy says he is proud to have him as a friend.

His hands are so big, so big! He can bury my whole face in his hands.

Last night he took me for a walk in the garden, and I showed him all Momma’s flowers. That’s when he told me he loved me. But he lied. You don’t hurt people you love.

Today is my birthday. I’m going to have a party but I don’t want to. Yesterday I wanted to.

Momma cut flowers for my party this morning. I helped her.

“Momma, when Grandma died, did the flowers choke her?”

“Choke her? Good gracious, child, of course not. When you are dead, you don’t choke. You don’t even breathe. You don’t feel a thing.”

“But I could feel Grandma.”

“That’s because you’re still alive. You could feel her, but she couldn’t feel you. She couldn’t feel anything. She’s dead.”

“Are you sure you don’t feel anything when you’re dead?”

“What a question from my birthday girl! Of course, I’m sure.”

She handed me a bunch of flowers she had cut. “Hold these for me.”

They smelled too sweet. They smelled like last night. They smelled like Grandma’s funeral.

“What’s the matter, child? You look terrible. Do you miss Grandma?”

I screwed my eyes tight shut. But I still saw his face, smiling at me, and then his hands, holding me, pushing me, pushing me down, down into the flowers. And then the dark. The night was all dark, and I couldn’t breathe. And then he … and then I … and I couldn’t breathe, and I was afraid, and I couldn’t scream, and it hurt-it hurt-it hurt … And then all the flowers where he pushed me down were squashed and spoiled and flat.

I started to cry.

“Oh, child, today’s your sixth birthday. You should be happy. Grandma wouldn’t want to spoil your birthday. Grandma wouldn’t want you to miss her today. She loved you.

I am dead. When you are dead, you don’t feel anything.

“Why don’t you go in and lie down and take a nap? Then you’ll be ready for your party this afternoon.”

I walked to the house. Momma doesn’t know I’m dead, because she can still feel me and see me. I walked very carefully upstairs to my room, to my bed.

I lay down in the middle of my bed, and lay as still as still. When you’re dead, you don’t move.

I held the flowers tight on my chest. When you’re dead, you always have flowers on your chest, but I don’t know why.

Momma doesn’t know I’m dead.

Daddy doesn’t know I’m dead.

When you’re dead, you don’t have to feel anything, but other people can still see and feel you.

I hear someone coming, coming up the steps. Coming to my room. I didn’t know you could hear when you’re dead.

It’s Momma.

“Look, child, look who’s here! He heard us talking about your party last night and brought you a present for your birthday. Isn’t that lovely? When he heard you weren’t feeling good, he offered to read to you while I finish frosting your cake. Isn’t it nice to have such a wonderful friend?”

Uncle Elmer doesn’t know I’m dead.

When you’re dead, you don’t feel anything. Not the blackness. Not the choking. Not the pain.

His hands are so big, so big! He can bury my whole face in his hands. Daddy says he is proud to have him as a friend.

Mommy says he is handsome and charming.

He said he loves me, but he lied. You don’t kill people you love.

***

Judith O. Anderson lives on 20 acres at the end of a dead-end road in St. Clair County. She is a grandmother and wife and mother, and she works with her husband in a non-profit organization. Judith says, "This story is entirely a work of fiction. Unfortunately, it is based on the experiences of far too many children. I hope it will be a hug for each child and a reminder to every parent to be vigilant."

© Judith O. Anderson

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012