Get up, little girl.
It's a brand-new day. The air is crisp, the sky is blue -- anything can happen on a day like this.
On a beautiful day like today you could dress up. Put on those soft pink ruffles that make you feel like a fairy princess and twirl around in the bright sunshine. You can grant wishes to your loyal subjects and play amidst the flowers. The ruffles won't float when they're crumpled and torn, stiffened with tears and dust. The bloodstains will never come out.
It's hard to remember bad dreams when the sun is so bright and daddy has you up on his shoulders and you can see almost to Metropolis. The Emerald City, mommy called it, just like in Oz. The rocks screaming from the sky were red like the poppies in the field with tails like the scary monkeys and then they glowed green where they burned in the street. The scarecrow in Riley Field knows the way home but he's asleep in the hospital and can't tell you.
Go out, little girl.
You could step out into your yard this morning and find it full of strangers with cameras and microphones, all wanting to see you. The lights will glare like the summer sun and feedback will squeal like pigs being slaughtered. Nell will hold you in her arms and let you hide your face in her neck as she yells at them to leave you alone. But she doesn't know how to make a smiley face on your plate and the smell of the bacon takes away your appetite.
You can play under the porch and listen to the neighbors talk about some poor orphan girl and what a blessing it is that Nell is willing to take her in. Those awful stories about what can happen in foster homes these days -- why, it doesn't bear thinking of. Generous Nell, to give up her plans and take the child.
Look around, little girl.
Maybe the nurses will come to the school again and take blood from all the kids who were in town that day. Their hands will be soft and they'll smell like Bactine. Your finger will sting all day from the little prick they cover with a tiny bandage. They'll smile and give you a lollipop, then stand in corners talking about "white counts" and "hot spots".
You hear the whispers on the playground. Greg likes to catch bugs -- ick, run away. Tina used to be sick and now she's okay but sometimes she forgets and wants you to give her things just to make her feel better. There's a little boy at the Kent house but he doesn't play with the other kids and seems a bit slow. Watch them change as the years go by. See the faces that used to be there and now are gone. There's Greg and Tina and Jodie and Shawn. Some of them disappear in the night and are never heard of again. Some were taken off to the city and are never heard of again. Broken people, ruined lives. Everything can change in an instant. You can wonder who's next.
Hold tight, little girl.
You can hold on to your good memories but time keeps pulling them away, covering them in smoke and choking you with the taste of ash. You walk downtown and see the difference in the streets and the storefronts, hiding the shattered glass and pockmarked pavement. New stores, new signs -- even the billboard at the edge of town -- all changed. Your past, vanishing before your eyes, and no matter how hard you try to hold on to it, it slips away and disappears. Maybe one beautiful day you'll vanish, too.
On such a lovely day you can walk along without a care in the world, dreaming sweet dreams of tomorrow. But tomorrow's a lie and so are the dreams. You can't be sure of anything and it will all be dead around you if you hope too hard. Live in today and dream of yesterday. Wake each day and see the sky, clear and bright and threatening.
Arise, little girl. Put one foot in front of the other and keep moving.
Keep getting up, little girl.
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