April 16, 1974
“You know, if you’re righteous and you pray to God, he’ll answer your prayers.”
“What?” I didn’t hear what she said. I was in the middle of wondering why farts sometimes smell like sausages. Well, hers do. Mine don’t. I think my smell worse.
“God will answer your prayers, but only if you’re righteous. All you need to do is pray to Him. I can show you.” Her look is serious like this is something she’s been thinking of telling me for a while.
Her life is so much better than mine. Her family seems happy, and they’re nice to each other. Plus, no one drinks or fights in the yard. I want my life to be like hers.
I’ve known Gina since I was about four or five years old. We moved to this neighborhood from a place I don’t remember very well. I don’t remember many things, but Gina was one of the first friends I met when we moved here. Her mom doesn’t like me. A lot of people in the neighborhood don’t want my family here. Mrs. Langstrom told me they didn’t. She told me we weren’t good enough to be here, that we didn’t belong.
My family isn’t like the other families in the neighborhood. We don’t go to their church or do the things they do. My brother sometimes hurts the other kids, and they didn’t like it when my dad crashed the car into the house. We make noise too. My dad’s friends are the worst. I don’t like them either, but I like living here. I like Gina. She’s always nice to me, and she lets me come over, even though her mom still doesn’t want me there.
I try to be friendly, and lately, Gina’s been inviting me to her house more and even to go to church with her. I sometimes go, but now she’s talking a lot about the church when we’re not even there. Some people say it’s because my birthday is coming. I’ll be eight soon, but I don’t see what that has to do with anything. I think it’s because Gina is my friend.
I like being with Gina more than anyone else in the neighborhood, and I want her mom and the other moms to like me too. I don’t like my family sometimes either. My brother hurts me. That’s the worst, but mostly, I just don’t feel like they want me to live with them. Everyone seems mad that I’m here. Maybe if I listen to Gina, someone will want me, and I can live with them. There a lady down the street that’s so nice to me. I could go live with her, and we can all be happy then.
April 28, 1974
It’s been a few days since I talked to Gina. I’ve been praying every day. She explained what righteousness is. She said it’s when you’re good, and you follow the rules. The pastor at my church said it means you treat other people the way you want them to treat you, and I do. I’m a good girl. I’m fair to everyone.
Today, I’m alone again, playing Jacks in the hallway. I love jacks. I can grab up to twelve of them now, on just one bounce. I’ve been thinking all morning about Gina’s family. I do wish my life could be different. Everyone here is angry. I don’t want to them to be angry, and I sure don’t want to be angry.
The world doesn’t need to be this way. I know it doesn’t. So I pray, and I ask God for someone to come who will take me away. Each jack, each moment, each catch, I pray. Every moment I have to myself when I get to be with just me, I pray. I do everything I can to be righteous, and I pray.
June 6, 1974
I can see the house in my mind. It’s so clear it’s like I’ve actually been there. I started it the other day, at Gina’s. Her sister showed us what to do. I like Gina’s sister. She teaches us how to do a lot of the cool stuff she learns at school. My sisters don’t want to be with me. They get mad when my mom makes them watch me, so I don’t learn a lot from them. But, Tami has taught us about singing, and the other day, she was teaching us about some of the stuff she was learning about making floorplans. She says it’s like looking at a house from the top. She has special paper with squares on it to help us make things the right size, and she reminds us when we do something that doesn’t make sense. Tami always tries to help us be more independent. I wish I could have a sister like her.
I’m as careful as I’ve ever been. I don’t need to wait for anyone else to save me. I can have my own house. I can find a place to live where my brother can’t find me. I can just live alone and take care of myself.
Gina told me, ‘if I prayed, and I was righteous, God would answer my prayer.’ I’m righteous. I know I’m a good person, but God didn’t come. No one came.
I don’t think He’s going to come. I think God is too much like my family. Maybe he doesn’t want me either. I don’t think I can trust him. But I can trust Tami. She said floor plans are something we draw for our own houses. If I have my own house, I can lock my door, and no one can hurt me, and no one can stop me from being who I want to be.
The house is big, with giant rocks instead of bricks. The windows have little ledges where I can sit looking out. Everything is open. The master bedroom has it’s own bathroom and looks down over the living room, which looks over the family room. Gina’s house has a family room, and now my new house has one too, like theirs, but mine doesn’t have any walls. No walls, no places to hide.
There is a section on the lower level with a hall. It has a couple of bedrooms for other people to use. I don’t know who, but I don’t go there. I don’t like that part of the house. I like the living room and the bedroom and the den on the other side of the front door, but mostly, I like the library. It’s at the top of a spiral staircase and looks over the whole house. It’s my favorite place to be.
My face is nearly touching the piece of paper in front of me. I’m careful tracing every line, drawing the shape of the house I see in my mind. I’ve written and erased until everything is exactly how I want it to be. The eraser ruined the paper a little, but I’ll redraw it on fresh paper later. It’s perfect. I found a way to get everything I need.