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I remember a story my mother used to tell me when I was little, anytime I hated myself for something I did wrong. She would use that story to tell me that someone out there is facing so much worse things and situations than I am. It was the story of a little orphan she knew far back when she was wrong. The story of Mary…

     On a Saturday morning Mary stood body straight as a ruler, as she watched the droplets of water fall from the sky onto the earth surface. It washed the world, quenching the soil and the life which depended on it. It rain fell heavily, wetting everything that comes in contact with it. She watched the pedestrians from her bedroom window that seemed so little from her eye sight as they ran and searched for cover from the rain. The rain had started at the early hours of the morning, falling ever so heavily since then with no sign of it coming to an end.

Mary sighed for she knew it would be a boring day for her for if the rain continued, she won’t be able to have fun with the charity organization that came over every Saturday to drop off donations they had gathered during the week.

Mary was the only child left at the orphanage who was yet to be adopted by a family. All other children had all been adopted by families who received them with open arms and she could tell how much admiration they had for each children by the smiles on their faces. She wanted that. She wanted a family who will love her dearly not like the ones who abandoned her.

It had been 5 years since she arrived at the orphanage in a pair of black jeans and a flimsy blue t-shirt with tears running down her face. Her mind wonders back to that day, the day that caused her so much pain anytime she thought of it, the day the ones who she trusted the most decided it was a good idea to leave her in an unfamiliar environment. At the age of five she knew what it meant to be poor, a situation where one has no means of income and she knew her parents were barely able to keep up with the bills, so she was surprised when they suggested it.

The 6th of July, the day ever remained so vivid in her memory, she remembered that day like it was the preceding day. Mary had been excited at the prospect of her going to the amusement park for the first time. Although it had been odd when they had decided to take her at such a random day, but she thought no more into it

Her mother had sat her down that morning in front of her bedroom mirror, as she combed her black kinky hair into a bun. She had told her about the sudden trip to the amusement park for it was time to bond as a family for they had been sorry for not have taken her once, sorry for only being focused on making money and not have time to take her to have fun. And that was true, Mary had begged to go to the amusement park so dearly on every festive season to see Santa and take a photograph with him.

Although it wasn’t Christmas yet, she still felt delighted. Mary remembered the pleasure she had as she rode every ride she wanted; the ferries wheel, bumper cars and many more she had always seen on television. She enjoyed the time she had spent with them thus she had lots of fun that day. They had just gotten off the ferries wheel when she was told to wait beside the ice cream shop as they used the bathroom.

She had waited for over five hours in the same spot for the parents that never came back, when she began to cry out loud in the empty dark park. Covered in her own pool of tears with snot running down her nostrils, her screams filled the empty surrounding for she was terrified.

The earsplitting sound of the thunder made her recoil into a little ball under the window, her thoughts long forgotten as she rocks back her forth, for she hated the crackling sound of the thunder. She had not noticed the change of the brightness in the room; it had turned gloomy and dull.
She hears another sound just outside her window, the sound of a car horn that made her jump up from her crouched position to look outside the window once again. It was a post-chaise; it had drawn up before the front gate of the orphanage. She had never seen a car like that before more or less it able to have swum the flooded areas.

Mary was surprised for she thought the rain and flooded areas would be a hindrance to those who would come for a visit.

A man clad in a pair of khaki shorts, white shirt and a pair of black boots came down from the car holding a black umbrella with a little girl who jumped down from the passenger’s seat. The little girl wore a simple blue dress and a pair of matching shoes. She was beautiful, she could tell despite the distance. The girl took the hands of the man; she assumed was her father sending one another smiles so beautiful and filled with admiration. 
Mary moved her head abruptly from side to side as thoughts of her parents invaded her mind once again. She didn’t want any negative thoughts at the moment.  She only wanted to think positively at least for that day.

Mary was excited at the thought of making a new friend that she ran out her room barefooted in her satin pajamas. She ran down the old wooden staircase just beside her bedroom which creaks under her foot as it makes contact with it, and down the little hallway, coming to an abrupt stop at the foyer when she noticed Mrs. Smith and the strangers seated in the living room.

Mrs. Annabel smith, a sixty year old elfin woman, was the caretaker of the orphanage. She was the most comfortable and easy going woman whom Mary had ever met. She made her feel more at home; they were great friends the moment she arrived. They had lots of fun despite the age difference but there were still some things she couldn’t just do with the old woman for her age prevented her from playing some games Mary wanted to play.

Mary hides behind a wooden desk, as she peeped from the rear to watch the three of them as they conversed. There was a tad difference in the way the man and the little girl spoke, more like they were from the country side, their tone increased at each word they spoke, each sentence they made.

As she continued to watch them, an almost inaudible sneeze seemed to have issued from her lip. Mary quickly covered her closed mouth tightly with both of her hands as she hoped not to have been heard. Despite the impossible to hear sneeze, she seemed to have caught the attention of the little girl who stared at her with so much curiosity.

Mary feared she had gotten herself in immense trouble not only by causing a distraction but also by coming down the stairs without cleaning herself up. Oh how Mrs. Smith hated having her kids unclean when meeting visitors was unimaginable. So she hid herself in the only way she could think of. She hid at the back of the black curtain just adjacent to the desk.

    Mary ever so clumsy tripped on the other half of the satin curtain that laid on the floor. Her body landed with a loud thud on the floor. She immediately crawled back to the wooden desk as quick as she could as she hid behind it. Oh how stupid she thought she was, stupid for not have thought of hiding behind the desk.

The little girl laughed, at how funny Mary had looked hiding behind a curtain that did so little to conceal her presence from the room and her shenanigans. The sound of her laughter resonated throughout the whole room. It had drawn the attention of the two adults who all the while were oblivious to the interaction between the two children.

The little girl pointed her finger towards the wooden desk which concealed Mary’s figure as she ran in the direction of it.

“There Papi, there is a little girl here” The little girl said as she took hold of Mary’s arm. She pulled her out with so much force. Mary hated the little girl at that moment for her inquisitiveness and inability to understand she had not wanted to be seen.

Mary was tensed. She tried to pull away her hand which turned sweaty from the solid grip of the little girl but it was next to impossible. The little girl continued smiling at her for reasons she could not understand. She was so frail and fragile from up close, her lips so small and tiny was left in a wide grin. She wore a white beanie, Mary had not notice all the while probably the distance played a role.

Mary felt more at easy when she saw the smile on Mrs. Smith’s Face, much to her surprise. There was something in that smile, Mary could not place her hands on, it was neither happy nor sad, just there.

The two adults continued to watch the two children move closer to them, more of one pulling the other. The little girl moved closer to her father in delight, as she dragged a scowling Mary along.
“Who do you have there Amanda?” “Perhaps a new friend” 

“I found her Papi” “Please can I play with her, Mrs. Smith?” Amanda looks up with her big dopey eyes. Mary couldn’t help but admit how cute Amanda was, despite her frail build.
The moment Mrs. Smith had nodded her head in approval, Amanda leaped in glee and excitement. Amanda was a happy child, ever so happy and cheerful. Mary envied her for that, it was obvious she was given everything she wanted in life and she hated that because compared to her, she lived a happy life. She had seen the way her father had looked at her in much admiration, a look she had seen on numerous faces of parents when they had just adopted a child.

“Take her to the play room, dear” Mrs. Smith instructed.

The play room was a room especially for children to play with their toys. The room also contained toys and goods donated by caregivers when they came over.

Mary didn’t want to play inside, she hated it but she had no choice for the rain continued to float in gentle waves. The thunder seemed to crack again the sky as if the sky was about to split which caused Mary to slip on a small plastic toy car which laid on the ground away from where it belongs which is in a jar of little toys with the rest of its kind.  

Amanda haven noticed the little accident giggled at her misfortune. She took a break from scrutinizing the play room to help Mary who remained on the floor “Are you always this clumsy?” She said as she pulled her left hand out to help.

“Are you always this happy?” She mocked. With no more words said, Mary grabbed her hands tightly which pulled her back up into a standing position. 

Amanda refused to let her hands out of her grip which grew tighter making it impossible for her to pull her hands out. It was just like when she was dragged out from behind the desk in the living room. “Play with me Mary” Amanda said with so much determination. There was something about her, something sad and poignant, maybe it was the way she smiled or the look in her eyes that made her want to protect her, to hold her close so she did.

Mary hugged her tightly which caught Amanda off guard for she had not expected the sudden show of affection. Her hands involuntary covered the small of her back, as she squeezed it firmly.

Thirty minutes and some seconds later, the children had made great friends with each other. Amanda wasn’t such a bad person after all, Mary thought. They had gotten to know each other’s favorite everything ranging from clothing, food, books and so on.  And now, both children are now sat on the floor in the play room bored out of their minds.  They had played with as about all the toys in the play room, now tired of having fun with the dumb toys as Mary would put it they sat at the edge of the wall with gloomy faces.

Mary had suggested them sneaking out the back door to play on the swing set in the rain but unfortunately, Amanda had quickly dismissed the idea with an rapid shake of her head. “We would catch a cold and my dad wouldn’t be too glad about that now” Mary had been begging for the sun to rise up again to the sky. There were so many things, so many games they could play outside probably, the swings and slides.

Time flowed like a turtle. She checked the wall clock which read a minute after ten. A minute had passed since she last checked thirty minutes ago or so it seemed. They sat there as they did nothing but to stare at the static wall. She had thought of playing hide and seek at one point but quickly dismissed the idea as soon as it came, Amanda knew nothing about the new environment which must seem alien to her.

“I’m so bored” She groaned to herself, suddenly she got up pacing the length of the room as she thought of something they could both do.
“Let’s make a kite, Amanda” Mary suggested again but just as the first suggestion was quickly dismissed so as this one for inside house apparently would not be such a good idea. “We can fly them in my room Amanda, it would be fun trust me” Mary tried to convince her once more.

One trait about Mary besides being clumsy and sneaky was that she loved to build. She loved to create things with the other children when they lived in the orphanage using books, following each instruction cautiously in order to get their desired result. Mary so eagerly got up, as she ran over to the stack of books in the mini shelf. She scattered the stack of book with much enthusiasm, as she searched for the particular book she wanted. 

She searched and searched until she saw the book she wanted. ‘Build me a craft’ by Slanor Davis laid there at the back of the shelf, worn out of its cover and beauty probably from too much usage by the children.

A loud thud is heard from behind her as she held the book in her hands. Amanda laid on the floor with her eyes tightly closed, as she struggled to breath. Being petrified was an understatement of how Mary truly felt at that moment, not having no idea what to do, she screamed. She had screamed for two reasons; to attract attention and for the life of her new friend. Amanda’s skin went pale as she stopped her struggle for breath as she lay on the cold ground. Mary picked up her hand; she had seen many doctors in movies do it, and she checked the pulse whose beat was so faint.

   Mary paced left and right outside her bedroom door as she awaited the news of Amanda.  Her focus was scattered, so nervous was she for she had no idea of what was going on except for the fact that her friend had lost consciousness. She had no thought of what was going on, one minute she was having fun with Amanda and the next she wasn’t. She knew something bad was going on. She had that feeling again, the feeling of loss. She had felt that way five years ago when she had found out from Mrs. Smith that her parents had not wanted her.

Her bedroom door creaked open, to reveal Mrs. Smith with her head down to the down. “She wants to see you” Mrs. Smith whispered so low but loud enough for her to hear with glassy eyes as tears poured out of it. She cleaned it as it continued to flow, probably didn’t want Mary to see but it was too late for she had seen to look of defeat and sorrow in her whole being.

The moment she entered the room, she knew. The drugs which stood on top of her bedside table explained it, the frail and fragile nature of her body explained it. Amanda was sick, so Mary acted on instinct, she ran. She ran to the only place she knew would help her new friend be well again, The Church. St. John’s orphanage was a Catholic orphanage which was built along with a Catholic church also with the same name.

Despite the rain which continued to fall, Mary ran in it with tears in her eye. She ran without any protection from the rain, she jumped into puddles which stained her pajamas trousers. She now knew the meaning of those smiles, the reasons for Mrs. Smith not scolding her when she was caught snooping, it was all because she was sick and her sixth sense knew it was a fatal illness, an illness that took lives.
The oak wooden door of the church was open, luckily for her. She kept on with the same pace as she came to a stop in front of the altar. She knelt at the front of the altar with her hands pressed together in front of her and her eyes tightly closed. Mary prayed for the first time in her whole ten years of living, she prayed. The feelings she felt were so painful and hurting, it was a feeling she wished for no one to feel. Her heart throbbed loudly like it was about to break free from its cage.

The Friar clad in his brown cloak stood beside the door shocked at seeing Mary who had every time refused go to mass on Sunday let alone to visit on a weekday. He watched the drenched girl on her knees as she prayed so desperately for her prayers to be answered. He felt pity for her for he knew for her to have paid a visit to the church she must have be desperate for the Lord’s help, so he prayed on her behalf.

Mary laid on the bed beside Amanda with no words said in complete silence. The silence was like poison to Mary and Amanda, for never in her whole ten years she had lived in this world had she ever imagined losing someone again. But this time she would never seen Amanda again because she would be taken by someone she couldn’t go against.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a cancer of the myeloid line of blood cells characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal cells that build up in the bone marrow and blood and interfere with the normal blood cells, it was a very deadly disease and she had it. Amanda had cancer.

Mary had been told as she had walked back to the room drenched in the rain and all teary when she had explained to her why she had fainted so suddenly.

Amanda knew her time on earth was coming to an end, so she wanted to make the most of it by making people smile. It had been her last wish to visit the orphanage that day, since she had less than a week to live. She had removed the beanie of her head leaving an astonished expression from Mary as she stared at her hairless head, shaved clean.

When Mary cried once more this time, there was a rawness to it, like the pain was an open wound refusing to heal. She hugged her, clapping onto her clothes for support and then her whole body shook uncontrollably. Her sobs were stifled at first just like the way a rainfall begins then became overcome by emotions as she broke down entirely, all her defenses washed away. Never had she thought of someone suffering something so much worse when she pitied herself for having lost her parent when someone was losing so much more, there life.

“Play with me Mary” Amanda said her expression filled with joy and happiness “Mary, play with me” “Let’s build that kite” Mary smiled because in that moment she had something she wanted to achieve and she was going to do that.

Together they painted a new picture of fun which stayed forever in the memory of Mary.

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