The Pioneer Princess
Hildegard Hannah was an alien from another world. At least thats what everybody at school said. It didnt help things that she talked to the moon. And ate peanut butter, tomato and marshmallow sandwiches. She also thought when there was a fingernail moon, that God was scratching back the sky with his pinky finger to check to see what earthlings were up to.
So, mostly at school, she was alone. Everybody thought she
And then, one day her whole life changed. She awoke one morning and her dad was gone. Her mom said he had awakened in the middle of the night, and said he had to have Jamocha Almond Pineapple Fudge ice cream, his absolute favorite in the whole wide world. So he went to the grocery store, in the middle of the night, for ice cream.
And he never came back.
The police looked into it, but could find no answers. Her mom
said that her dad had really seemed sad, lately. And Hil noticed that he had
stopped singing songs and snapping his fingers to the radio, like he always
did. But he had still called her his "sugar pie, honey bun."
For a long time, her mother cried, and ate potato chips with guacamole dip in front of the TV.
Or, she would lay on the couch in her old bathrobe and read romance novels, which made her cry even more.
Until, one day, she found out she was pregnant. Then she cried even harder. But she stopped eating junk. And when the doctor told her the baby was going to be a girl, she decided to let Hil name her, even before she born.
Hil decided to name her sister "Bella Rose." Her teacher, Miss Rodriguez, said one time that Bella, in Spanish, meant beautiful.
Hil was so excited about Bella Rose, that she decided to write
to her, telling her about the world and stuff. When Hil was small, her dad had
always told her to dream big and to see the beauty in everything that people
|So Hil began to look at things differently than most people. And she dreamed up ideas about stuff. She wanted Bella to be a dreamer, too. Cause her dad said dreamers saw things through different eyes, and they could change the world. This made it easier for Hil at school whenever she felt odd and different, and the other kids laughed at her.|
|"Im Columbus, Im Galileo, Im Lewis and Clark, Im a pioneer princess warrior, and I've been born to make a difference!" she would cry, raising an imaginary sword to the sky, and swiping it a couple of times.|
|Hil bought herself a spiral notebook to write letters to Bella in. She drew flowers and birds and stars on it. She cut out pretty pictures from magazines and glued those on the cover, too. She decided to call it, "The Secrets to Life and Stuff," by Hildegard Anastasia Hannah.|
Hildegard bought a lavender colored pen, because she loved the color. She thought it would be soft and pretty for Bella to read her words in such a nice color. She also liked the word "lavender." She almost suggested that her mom name the baby Lavender Rose. But she had decided she liked Bella better.
And so, this is how she began to tell her stories to her future baby sister. She wrote in nice, neat letters on the front cover, "The Secrets to Life and Stuff", and then, opening the notebook, she wrote:
|When it snows outside, all soft and pretty, its cause the devils salting the earth real good, so he can eat it. But God wont let him, cause were not supposed to be eaten. God told the devil to eat some macaroni and cheese, or something, if he was hungry. But he likes Jalapeno peppers cause they burn your mouth up, and remind him of his home, it being so hot down there, and all.|
When it rains, Gods crying real hard. Cause He loves us, but we cant seem to get it through our heads. So He cries, and his tears make flowers, and rivers, and give us water to drink. Cause then, maybe if we see the things He does for us, well figure it out.
Parents make you eat vegetables and stuff, so they dont have to eat them. When you go to bed, they eat M&Ms and brownies and drink grape Kool-Aid and stuff, and dance on the furniture.
Pets are really aliens. Theyve been trying to tell us this all along. But we cant understand the sounds they make. They came from Gods house. And He told them that we needed help. That it was hard for us to love each other, no matter what. So He made animals to love us. Even when we have bad breath, and havent taken a bath.
The sky is really the sea turned upside down. God put cellophane in between, so we wouldnt get wet. The sun is a big hunk of warm butter and the moon is a floating pearl. The stars are left over diamonds from heaven, that God didnt need. He just threw them on the sea of sky. To tell us that thats what He thinks about them. In heaven, He uses them on the streets. He wants us to know that its us people that are the most important of all.
Dad hasnt really forgotten us. He got hit on the head by this rock and got amnesia, and is wandering the earth. Hes got eyes the color of iced tea, and a smile as warm as summer. His laugh is like a dogs bark---strong and hard, and he cries at pretty sunsets.
|Hildegard kept the notebook hidden under her bed, next to an old pair of sneakers and a half-eaten bag of Doritos.|
Hils mother sat her down one day. "We need to talk," she said, stirring cream into her coffee. "I found your book, under the bed, just south of an old banana peel, and east of a bag of Doritos."
"Its for Bella," Hildegard said proudly.
"Hil, you have to stop this nonsense. Your dad wasnt hit by a rock. He doesnt have amnesia. He just left."
Tears sprang to Hils eyes. "Have you heard from him?"
"No," her mother said, avoiding her eyes.
"Well then, how do you know?", she wailed, standing up so fast she almost knocked her mothers mug off the table.
"Honey, dont do this to yourself."
"Im not doing anything to myself. Rocks fall out of the sky all the time. People trip on banana peels and hit their heads. Thats what had to have happened. He wouldnt have just left without saying anything."
Hildegard ran to her room. She found her cat, Mylo. She tried to talk to him in alien talk, but he just stared at her, and rubbed his head against her ankles.
"Mylo, maybe you can contact your people, cause aliens have x-ray vision and stuff. You could have them look for my dad. Hell be easy to find. Hes got to have a huge bump on his head from that rock that hit him," Hil told Mylo.
Mylo meowed, as if he understood.
Hildegard smiled. "I knew youd understand,"
she said, winking at him.
She went to the window, and gazed at the stars. "God, sir," she said, "this is just between you and me".
"Could you maybe drop one of those diamond stars out of the sky, and let it land in our front yard. Cause even though mom doesnt say it, I know we dont have much money. I can tell, cause we eat rice and macaroni a lot now. And mom puts a little sugar in water, rather than buying Coca-Cola. And she always tells me to turn the lights out when Im not in a room.
Hil had just gone back to her desk to start writing to Bella again, when her mother knocked on the door.
"Enter," Hil said.
Her mother came in. One hand was on her hip; the other gently rubbed her big stomach. "Theres something I have to tell you," she said, sitting on Hildegards bed.
"Is it about Dad?" Hil asked
"Well, yes," her mom said. "When I told you I hadnt heard from him, that was true. What I didnt tell you was that I have heard something about him."
"And you didnt tell me?" Hil cried.
"I didnt want to hurt you," her mom said softly.
"What is it?"
Her mom looked away from her gaze. "Hes not coming back to us, Hil. His Aunt Zelda called. She knows where he is, but she wont say. She said she thought it was as evil as sin that he didnt at least let us know he was alive. So she called."
"I dont understand," Hil said, her eyes beginning to fill with tears.
"Baby, Im so so sorry. This is partly my fault," Hil's mom said, pulling her daughter into a hug.
"How is it your fault?" asked Hil. "Hes the one that left."
"Its not the first time hes done it, honey. Leaving people, I mean. He had another family before us," her mother said.
Hildegard sat stunned. And then she felt something like a thunderstorm gathering in her brain. Her head hurt. "I hate him," she said, bursting into tears.
Her mother held her, until she cried herself out.
For a long time after this, Hildegard couldnt write to Bella. She didnt know what to say. How could she tell her baby sister about their dad? She almost wished she could still believe that he had been hit by a rock and got amnesia. Sometimes she got so mad, she thought if she saw him again, maybe shed hit him with a rock, so he did get amnesia. But she didnt really mean this. Cause she really loved him. Thats what really hurt. That he didnt love them.
She quit talking to the moon and singing to the radio.
At school, when the kids found out about her dad going to get ice cream and never coming back, they said Hil was crazy, just like him. They started calling her "Loony Tunes."
"Im not like him, Im not," she had screamed. "I hate him!"
When she told her mom what the kids had said, her mother sat her down and made her favorite drink, hot chocolate with cinnamon. "Sometimes," Mrs. Hannah said, "people get hurt real bad, Hil. It causes their heart to get hard, to protect themselves. But just like it protects them from letting anybody into their hearts, it can stop them from letting love out of their hearts. Thats what happened to your dad. He and his mom didnt get along, and his mom didnt get along with her dad. Hes just doing what he saw his parents do."
"So, his heart is like a rock?"
"You could say that," her mom said. "Your dad had some good parts to him. Its just that the hurt kind of filled up his heart, more than the good."
Hil thought about this for a long time. She wanted to keep hating her dad, because then it didnt hurt so much. But she began to think that hating him would make her just as bad as he was. Maybe her heart would become hard too, and maybe shed become an old lady who kicked dogs and hated kids, cause she couldnt love anybody.
Everybody said she was just like her dad.
She got her notebook to Bella out. She began to write:
People have good parts and bad parts. Turns out our dad didnt get hit by a rock after all. He just left us, before you were born. It didnt have anything to do with you though. Its just that he hurt real bad inside cause he wasnt loved good when he was little. So he didnt know how to love. Though he tried. I know you may get real mad reading this. He sounds really bad. I know, cause I used to hate him.
But I don't any more.
Cause I dont want to have my heart hurt so bad, that it becomes hard, so that I cant love anybody. Because then, maybe, my beautiful Bella Rose, when you are born I might not be able love you. And then maybe youd get a rock heart too, because of me.
Your sister, (the pioneer princess warrior world changer) Hildegard Anastasia Hannah
About the Illustrator: Pamela Benjamin is a resident of New York City. An artist with experience in many mediums, she is now experimenting with the digital variety. Currently working in New York at computer data inputting, but looks forward to the day when she can live doing what she loves doing best - illustrating. Pamela believes she owes her talent to God, telling us that His immeasureable inspiration enables her to put forth her very best work. Send e-mail Zoomsky@aol.com or visit this talented illustrator's web site to view additional samples of her work.
About the Author: Cheryl-Elizabeth Jackson is resident of Nashville, Tennessee and a student at Vanderbilt University. She has written since childhood, and several of her poems have been published. Cheryl has written and performed for Community Theater. Send e-mail to the author: firstname.lastname@example.org