Georgia’s Fantastic Journeys
Georgia was wearing her best dress, a striped pink pinafore with a lace-trimmed organza apron. Her thick wooly hair was piled on top of her head and pink organza rose-buds held together with satin ribbons were threaded through her hair. She wore Mary Jane shoes with white stockings, and her palms were sweaty as she nervously held on to her shiny little patent leather purse which carried her hanky, lip-balm and a few grubby dollar bills. Georgia felt like a princess – like the luckiest girl in the world. Who would have thought that she would be having tea at the palace?
Georgia felt a little like Cinderella and her heart soared with joy as she watched the grand procession inch forward in the receiving line. Gloved ladies wore fantastic wide-brimmed hats and precariously perched fascinators, in red, blue and green and all colors in between. They waited nervously as the line inched forward slowly. Georgia wanted to pinch herself. She was happy to have arrived early and among the first to meet the queen and her consort. Because of this she had time to wander around under the huge tent erected for the occasion, and further off among the beautifully kept flower beds and the pond filled with colorful fishes, ducks and other wildlife.
Georgia was hungry, but the food appeared so beautiful, so grand, it seemed a sin to eat. Ribbon sandwiches, rainbow cookies, fruit tarts, cakes of all shapes and sizes, fresh bread, jams, jellies, fruit platters, Crudités platters, all kinds of cheeses and varieties of butter – it was a uniform explosion of color that Georgia had only read about in story books.
Her wandering eyes caught the fruit sculptures. Watermelons and cantaloupes carved with intricate designs depicted various figures from Greek Mythology. She recognized Zeus, Aphrodite and Athena; the others she couldn’t quite remember who they were.
Georgia wandered around as the nattily dressed orchestra played classical pieces. Above the music was the constant chatter of the aristocracy as they greeted each other shared juicy gossip and snide remarks at common enemies. No one noticed her, although some man resembling her mother’s boyfriend Alan was following her around. She could quite see his face, but she recognized his smell. She was not afraid of him; let him tail her if he liked. Someday, she was going to tell her mother what he was doing when she wasn’t home.
Georgia watched the ladies-in-waiting very closely as they ate. Daintily, they first slathered butter and then jam on a strange pastry she heard them call a scone. There were oh’s and awes as they nibbled conscious of expanding waistlines. She didn’t remember having heard of a scone before; it was not on the list of items at the local bakery; however, she selected one from the high-piled crystal tray perched on one of the rows of tables. Following the women’s lead, she first slathered butter, then jam, on the pastry. The delicious flavor of the soft, still warm scone exploded in her mouth and she smacked her lips with delight. It was sheer good fortune that she was there; If only her mother could come too, but she spent so many hours at work these days. Her mother! My goodness!
Georgia returned to reality with a start. She squeezed her eyelids shut willing herself back into the Palace’s Rose garden, even just to finish her food. But it was not to be. She was back in her mother’s bed. The sheets smelled like a weird combination of her mother’s cheap perfume and the herbal shampoo she washed her stringy brown hair with. Alan was no longer in the room. She didn’t even notice when he left, but the chill on her bare skin as darkness fell over the town reminded her she needed to put her clothes on.
She was so hungry. She was always hungry, that brute Alan always made himself humongous sandwiches which he never offered to share. Of the long string of men coming and going out of this house, Alan stuck around the longest. The others were no trouble; they just came and went. But this ghoul had taken a sick interest in her. Georgia wished he’d just disappear. He was a grumpy and obnoxious creature who had this weird odor – much like a combination of evil, bad cologne, cheap beer and sweat. Didn’t he ever take a shower?
Georgia’s mother, Dian, worked the cash register at the nearby farmer’s market. Her mom liked it there and most evenings brought home left over cut fruit, deli meat and day old bread. By the time her mom came home, Georgia was so hungry; it made her head light. Dian often asked Alan why he hadn’t fed her, he never gave and answer and she never pressed for one.
Thank goodness her mother would be home soon. At least she would make her something to eat. Dinner would fill that hole in her stomach that made her constantly hungry.
Georgia hated Alan with all her might, she kept out of his way for the most part, but he always sought her out after he watched those tapes. She never knew what they were about, but she could tell from all the weird sounds people in the movie were making and the grunting sounds he made as he watched. She wished she didn’t have to relive the terror she felt each day when Alan dragged her from her room. Her heart pounded as she heard him come down the long passage to her lockless door. Here we go again.
Alan knew what he was doing was wrong, but he couldn’t stop. He’d been at it for a year already and so far he hadn’t been caught. If the little lass didn’t tell anybody yet, then it is likely she would never speak of it. “I’ll kill you and you stupid mama if you ever speak of this,” he’d told her over and over. Georgia knew better than to say anything.
He liked Dian a little, but it was the shy dark-eyed little bitty of a girl that got his attention. She was so quiet, not talkative like his sister’s twin daughters, constantly yapping about Hannah Montana, Disney Princesses and stuff. He’d never touch them, because he knew they’d scream like a banshee. Not Georgia; she was perfect. She went stiff and cold, almost as if she was in a trance when he laid her on her mother’s bed each day.
Dian heard from Georgia’s father two times a year at most. He always called on Christmas day and on her daughter’s birthday. He had re-married and his new wife bore him two other kids; she didn’t care – as long as the checks came every month. The child was a minor nuisance, always skulking around; always reading some dumb book. Thank God for Alan, he didn’t seem that passionate about her, but as long as he continued to volunteer to watch the little bugger, then he could stick around. That’s all he was good for anyway, plus he paid most of the rent each month. He seemed to like the kid, always buying her ‘them’ dumb books about princesses too.
Despite being annoyed by her daughter’s mousy look and skittish behavior, Georgia was all Dian had. A deadly tornado has swooped through the tiny Midwest town where her parents lived and killed four members of her immediate family. The rest, she was never close to, so everything she did, was for the benefit of Georgia. She only wished that she could do more.
Georgia attended the nearby public school. She was unremarkable and did her best not to attract attention. She wasn’t a particularly great student as she spent the entire school day going on fantastic voyages to exotic locales. In addition to Disney World, she had been to Buckingham Palace; her trip to Washington DC took her to the Whitehouse and the National Air and Space Museum where she was accidentally locked in for hours. That happened shortly after she watched a Night at the Museum on TV. She had been to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, beaches in Hawaii and the Bahamas; she’d also been skydiving and deep sea fishing.
For the most part, Georgia had no idea what her teacher was talking about. She was only able to focus for a minute or two when she was called on to answer a question which she never ever know the answer, how could she? She was physically in the classroom, but her mind was a million miles away. She drifted from lesson to lesson, half listening, half awake, and always dreaming.
Miss Dillon didn’t know what to make of the untidy little girl sitting near the door. At first she believed the child couldn’t read, however, putting her theory to the test proved her wrong. She was a good reader; her reading style was great too, except she tended to jump over commas, colons and periods. Why was she going so fast? She was only seven years old, “she’ll learn as she gets older,” Miss Dillon thought. At least her essays were fascinating to read, the last one on her visit to Walt Disney World was vividly and imaginatively written, and you couldn’t help being transported there while you read.
How did this quiet child end up with writing these stories? Miss Dillon thought when she read the latest saga from Georgia – The Queens Garden Party. As far as she knew, this child had not left the United States recently. How could this reserved little seven-year-old baby write with such imagery and minute detail about a place she’d never been to? Quite unusual.
Just before lunch break on Wednesday, Miss Dillon asked Georgia to have lunch with her. Georgia was nervous. What had she done now? Georgia warmed up to Miss Dillon as she shared a most delicious and filling lunch with her. She spoke animatedly about her visit to the palace, describing the things that she saw and did. “They had this brown thing they called a scone and I eat it with jam and butter – at the same time,” she smiled and “I thought it was gonna taste bad. But it was really, really good, and…and…” the little girl went quite, her eyes wide with terror as she remembered her abrupt trip back to reality. “And what” prompted Miss Dillon.
“And, and I was cold and I had to put my dress back on before my mother came home,” Georgia squeaked.
Miss Dillon was a young teacher who had hopes of someday becoming principal. She was astute, well liked by the faculty and most of the students. Some of her kids didn’t care for her as they believe she was too much of a disciplinarian. Overall, Miss Dillon was the right kind of caring coupled with genuine hope and concern for the future of her charges.
It took all of the teacher’s willpower not to run immediately to the principal. She didn’t want to further frighten the child. Besides, what would she tell the principal? She best thread lightly on this one
The wheels in her mind turned faster and faster; just how was she going to handle this. Georgia needed her help and by Jove she was going to help her. Whoever was creating a nightmare in this child’s life was going to pay if she had anything to do with it.
Miss Dillon took several deep breaths to calm her racing heart. As her heart slowed, reason returned and she smiled at Georgia who was rapidly stuffing her face with food. “Who so you live with?” she asked the little girl. “Oh, I live with my mother, we’re divorced,” Georgia piped up. “Is she at home now?” Miss Dillon prodded, “O course not! She’s the cashier at that Farmer’s market on Main Street; do you know it?” “Sure do;” said Miss Dillon, I just love getting my fresh fruits and vegetable there. It’s lovely there and I know most of the cashiers, which one is your mother?”
The terror of reliving her nightmare behind her, Georgia continued gorging on the food Miss Dillon provided as they chatted. “My mom’s Dian, no ‘e,’ she loves working there too, sometimes she brings me fruit and sandwiches from work.”
“I’ve known a few Dianes but never one without an ‘e’ in the name,” Miss Dillon said laughingly, “I should say hi to her next time I go to the farmer’s market.” Georgia smiled at her teacher, “It’s unusual isn’t it? Mom says it’s because she’s unusual too,” Georgia quipped.
The bell to signal the end of the lunch period startled them both, and as they cleared they table together Miss Dillon said’ “So, wanna have lunch with me again tomorrow?” “Georgia’s eyes lit up, “Sure would, this lunch is the ‘bestest’ ever!”
Parking was quite a drag and it took 27 minutes for Miss Dillon to find a parking spot near the farmer’s market. It seems as if many others wanted to patronize the businesses in the vicinity. She would take the train, but it looked like rain, and she didn’t want to fight with commuters on a rainy afternoon, plus, if Georgia’s mom couldn’t get a few minutes to talk, then she would wait and offer her a ride home after work. She had to find out who was hurting this precious child.
There was chaos inside the farmer’s market, there was a foul smell coming from inside, security guards were keeping customers away and there was water pouring out of the shop’s doorway. Employees were leaving one, by one, Miss Dillon stood around for a few minutes considering whether or not it let it be for one more day. She quickly decided against it then approached the guards to inquire whether or not Dian had left yet. “And you are?” the burly guard asked. “I am her daughter’s teacher,” she said with more confidence than she had.
The Farmer’s Market was having some sort of plumbing emergency and all employees were being sent home. Sewage was pouring from the bathroom, and the handful of employees still left in the store had given up on preventing the foul smelling matter from pouring all over the floors and spreading into all areas of the market. The manager had called in the big guns; this was no amateur job.
Dian had stayed behind to secure the days cash, and she was still putting on her jacket when she ducked through the doorway. She looked around in confusion, the guard pointed out Miss Dillon and she stepped forward. “I am Patricia Dillon, Georgia’s teacher.” Dian focused on the woman and stretched out her hand to greet the teacher. She looked vaguely familiar, “have we met before?” Dian said. “I’m sure we have, I’m a regular customer here. I love your stuff, so fresh!” There were a few minutes of uncomfortable silence as both women sized up each other.
Dian wasn’t sure what to make of the teachers, she seemed pleasant enough, but why was he here? Miss Dillon was on a mission and knew the ball was in her court “I wanted to have a very private talk with you, is there somewhere around here where we can have a cup of coffee or something?” Dian sized her up, still confused, but cooperated, “well there’s a coffee shop one block up, I usually grab cinnamon buns there sometimes, delish!”
Dian went from denial, to confusion to blinding rage as Miss Dillon explained her suspicions. “I have to go; I have to go; I have to go; Dian whispered. Grabbing her purse as she stood up, Dian again whispered “I have to go. I have to catch the train.” Miss Dillon didn’t know what to do, she felt helpless, she had just delivered a huge a giant blow to Dian and she didn’t know what to do next. “I can give you a ride home, maybe it will be quicker that way,” said Miss Dillon, clutching at straws. Dian’s wild eyes focused for a minute, she shrugged; “Ok!”
The women navigated the city streets mostly in silence; Dian gnawed her finger-nails and gave disjointed driving directions. She wanted to scream each time a traffic light further delayed them. She felt like she was going to explode.
Dian literally flew out of the car the minute it pulled to a stop outside her house. She made a mad-dash for the door nearly tripping over her own feet. She took a deep breath to calm herself as she fitted the key in the lock, dreading what she would find inside.
It took Miss Dillon a minute to park the car in an approved spot and ensure the doors were locked. Once she did this, entered Dian’s yard but opted to stay outside…she paced nervously.
She was awoken from her revere by a blood-curdling scream from Dian. A man was begging someone to put the knife down. “Dian, it’s not what you think.”
Miss Dillon was still, her ears trained to the commotion in the house. Her heart went out to the little girl who was saying “mama the blood, there’s blood on me. With trembling fingers, Miss Dillon felt around inside pocket for her fashioned flip phone, slowly she dialed 911. There was only one ring, “911, what’s your emergency.” She shrieked as a bloody Alan stumbled out of the house. Weak from the loss of blood, he collapsed fell down the front steps, his confused eyes staring at Miss Dillon as she shrieked.
Dian stumbled out after him, blubbering through tears. Georgia was still screaming “Blood, blood, blood! Miss Dillon took a deep breath. “Hello, hello, are you still there? Is this emergency? Yes, please send an ambulance, a little girl has been raped, and there has also been a killing.”