Over the fence: Remembering a child I once knew
I first spied Molly on the final day of Indian summer. I didn't know her name then. If I had been made to guess, I would have gone with a boy's name, like Willie or Sam. This was because of her tomboy persona. At first glimpse, she appeared as a tiny ball of fury standing in the middle of our neighborhood street, bellowing: "I'm NOT four. I'm SIX!"
"Well, how come you're such a shrimp then, Molly?" demanded a local bully-in-the-making.
Molly's reply was unintelligible, except for a few words possibly recalled from a former life as a construction worker.
I had to agree with the bully. Molly hardly looked six. She presented quite a vision as her tiny frame struggled to contain its massive spirit. The black sequin eyes flashed defiance while her delicate mouth hissed and spat in rage. Her perfect Irish face was crowned by thick, straight, Asian hair. It appeared that two cultures had blended to form one irascible rascal.
As I watched, Molly ran off to a nearby jungle gym. I was amazed to see her fragile frame with its spindly arms and legs leap effortlessly across the metal branches and scramble up the jungle rope. Where did her strength come from?
Suddenly, another child appeared. Same black hair, with a somewhat older face. Words were exchanged, accompanied by lively histrionics. It was clear that Molly was beyond mad. Her body stiffened and her hands curled into white-knuckled fists. Her soft pale lips parted to emit a shout equal to that of any master sergeant in any army. It was a siren shout. It was a sheer scream of outrage that quickly turned guttural, but remained deafening. A gymnasium shout from a tiny, toy-like imp.
The tirade continued unabated until the older child stalked off in defeat. As she marched past me, I could not resist a question.
"Why is she so angry?" I asked.
The child stammered and stomped her foot in frustration and then answered, "Because she has to come in for dinner!"
I watched as Molly's older version walked dejectedly away. Is that really all? I thought. Most definitely a puzzle. I decided that I would one day like to get to know Molly a little better. But not too much better.
As it turned out, I never did figure out the puzzle that was Molly. It was just too hard to get close to her. Many years have passed and I do know, via the grapevine, that she survived to adulthood; that she actually married and had children. This hardly computes with the Molly I remember. The Molly I remember was a force to be reckoned with, without an inkling of maternal feeling, present or future.
The last time I saw her, it was to again witness the fierce, gleaming eyes, the black mane flying and the sweet mouth spitting fire. Although her stature remained diminutive, she had somehow grown larger than herself. I never did catch her full name. But I think it was Molly the Magnificent.
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