La Niña Perdida
You go through life thinking that you’re a good person. I assume most of us do, anyway. Even if you’re nowhere near becoming cloistered and even farther from canonization, you should still be able to say you’re one of the good ones. We all can’t rushing up pipeline to sainthood. Even if goodness is a scarcity, avoiding badness might even be enough to brand yourself decent at the very least. Then one day the time comes when life says okay, goodie-goodie, let’s see you prove it! Life prefers the “walk” to the “talk” and never settles. It has a way shutting you up by force feeding you your own words. If you ever need a new kitchen, never mind bothering with some crooked contractor; instead just boldly boast that you can “take the heat” and life will have you sweating over a hot stove before it’s all said and done.
I was shopping at the mall the entire evening and must have gone in to every boutique, jeweler, and women’s shoe store. Brad promised he would take me downtown on what would be our third date. He promised to take me to Verge, the newest, hottest night club in the city at the time—at seventeen years old, going to my first dance club, the excitement was almost too much. He said that he sold weed to one of the bouncers who worked there and would always hook him up with an extra gram or two free of charge, so getting me in would be no sweat. So, I wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted to look drop dead gorgeous, classy yet desirable, none of my clothes came close to that. I finally found the dress I wanted at Forever 21 and paid for it with Daddy’s “in case of emergencies” credit card.
It was 8:30 in the evening and the mall closed at nine, and for the past half hour Brad had been frustrated with me, texting me over and over for me to hurry it up, that he was ready to get going. I had no choice but to put my dress and makeup on in the fitting room and have him pick me up at the mall instead of my house, which was about forty five minutes out of the way. I got into the fitting room, and my phone buzzed again with another text from Brad: if u r not ready 2 go when I get there im leavin w/o u! It hurt my feelings that he was being such an asshole; it was only our third date. After that, something inside me knew that Brad and I were history, but I wanted to go to Verge so badly that I didn’t care and wouldn’t risk my chance. I stripped, threw on the dress stuffed my clothes into the Forever 21 bag, I would change shoes in the car, and then grabbed the base, blush, lipstick, mascara, and eyeliner from my purse and started what needed to be the fastest slapdash makeup job ever. And it needed to be perfect. I dabbed a bit of base on a sponge and heard the sound of whimpering coming from the stall beside mine. “Everything okay in there?” I called.
“‘kay?” It was a little girl, I could tell. She had said okay, but the whimpering continued.
“Is your mommy or daddy with you, sweetie?”
She began balling hysterically: ¡ayudame, senora, por favor, estoy perdida y no se donde esta mi mama!
“I don’t speak Spanish… uh, I mean… no español, but sit tight. I’m coming.” I found her sitting in the corner of the fitting room stall all alone, hugging her knees. She looked up at me. I didn’t understand what she’d said, but her face I did understand. She was relieved not to have to be alone anymore, to have an adult to help her. “Come here, sweetie,” I said and took her by the hand, helping her stand up. “Let’s see if together we can find your—”
BUZZ… BUZZ… BUZZ… u got 5 mins to get the hell out here r u can find another ride!!!
The little girl looked up at me, her tears nearly all gone, and she said: “no se vaya… por favor.”
And life said prove it!
And I answered: “I will.”