She tangled the 7 year old fingers of her right hand with the 7 year old fingers of her left hand.
She looked down at her little post-eating and the remains of the sticky-sweet mango ice lolly on her frock. She didn’t care much about the orange-yellow stains, or the flower pattern on her dress. All she cared about was how it rose like an umbrella when she spun.
And spin she would just like Miss Victoria had taught her in ballet. And how her dress rose up like a parachute as she swung high up and down the swing. Though, she did wish that she had washed her hands before she ran to the swing. At least her hands would not feel so sticky and icky.
She met his eye when she went into the house to wash her hands. By then she had erased the memory of what had happened just as he probably did. She stuck her tongue out at her brother and he ruffled her hair. He loved her. She was adorable. The last, perfect addition to a family of boys. When their mother was pregnant with Anabel they said that they would throw the baby out of the hospital window if it happened to be a boy. Anabel thought that their threat must have sure scared God. She was a blessing.
God must listen to you when you really want sometihng. And maybe because he listens to you so well, he tests you, and punishes you. Like that time she fell off the swing right after she lied to her mother that she had cleaned her plate after dinner. Or that time she slipped down the stairs right after she lied to her father that she had said her morning prayers. Or that time when she had an ant fall into her glass of water when didn’t share her bangles with Mandy.And maybe that’s why her brother would get mad when she didn’t want to touch him in the places he would force her to.
Maybe that’s why he held her arms so hard that it hurt. He would not want to hurt her. He loved her, she knew. He had to. All her brothers did.
Or Mother must have been right. Something was wrong with him. And if God listened to them when they wanted a girl, God would listen to her when she prayed for forgiveness for her sins and to make her brother get well.
Every afternoon he would force her to touch him, and she would hurt in those places he’d press his fingers into. Once she needed his help to close the zip of her frock and he began to touch. It scared her.
All the same, she knew he loved her. So she prayed and she promised God to be a better girl. God was her father, they said. Her friend and her confidante. And he tested her ,they said. So maybe this was a test ,as well. It maybe was a test to see if she loved her brother enough to make him ok, a test to see if she could be a better girl.
So she prayed just like mother said and it seemed fair to her to then test god. That day when she slipped on her pretty frock with it’s flower patterns, the one that would rise like an umbrella when she spun or like a parachute when she swung. She didn’t need help with wearing it now because she was a big girl now. She had been begging God to make her brother okay, and promising to be the best big girl. Earlier on in the day when she found him alone, she went to her brother and said, ” Tita, I prayed to God, I think everything will be okay.” “Okay,” he replied, confused.
She went up to hug him. He welcomed the hug, then held her tighter, his hands against her underdeveloped body. She pulled away with eyes that were welling up. She went down to the refrigerator and got herself an ice lolly. Mango was the only flavour that was left.
The sticky sweetness tasted a bit salty as her tears fell towards her 7 year old lips. God failed his test. He didn’t hear her prayers. Maybe she was not good enough to be heard but it was okay.
God may choose to ignore her but she still would still have to go to school, play pretend with her brothers, make lego houses and robots and listen to the radio. She would sleep by their side and listen to stories from their days in school and awe at how different the life of older children were, especially older boys. And in that same dingy room he would touch her, force her, get mad at her and hurt her. All she had to do was stay away from him.
And when she went back into her house to wash her hands that afternoon, after God failed his test, she was sure it would be okay. He was not cured. but he still loved her. She would always be loved. She would always be fit for anyone and everyone’s needs.