Once upon a many rotations of the sun, Sally Mae was a small girl. Now, she is a big girl. But when she was a small girl, she was the queen of the world. From the trees in the back of the house and down the road that went nowhere into the bushes. From the huts on one side of the field to the pond on the other. Her father said she was the queen of it all and that was all there was. From the trees to the bushes and from the huts to the pond.
The small girl Sally Mae had many friends, eight to be exact. The brown ones, George and Janine. The yellow one, June. The black one, Jimmy. There were four big people who were her friends too, Rose, the yellow one who cooked. Pedro and Rosalita—two people both named rose, how crazy—Pedro and Rose, the brown ones who took care of the land. Did you know roses are also flowers, Sally Mae once said to Rosalita. Everyone agreed Sally Mae was so smart. And Sally Mae let Rose tousle her hair. Oh, and there was the black one, Debra who assisted Sally Mae’s father. Small Sally Mae also knew two other big people, her father whom she called Father and Joanie her teacher, the biggest of the big people. So that’s ten people Sally Mae knew.
Also, Sally Mae noticed that all brown people, either big or small, looked the same. And all black people looked like all other black people and all yellow people looked like all other yellow people. When Sally Mae told her father this, he tousled her hair and said what a smart girl you are.
Sally Mae was special, no one in the whole world had a father, only her. Once Janine said she had a mother, but Sally Mae didn’t know what that was and said, “Motherfucker” because she had heard her father say those words. Janine disappeared for many rotations of the sun after that. But that happens, small Sally Mae thought.
Sally Mae also discovered, surely the only one in the whole world, that there were people like her, not just in skin color, but also people not like her who had some knobby part where her “special place” was, above her legs. George showed her his knobby part one day down by the pond. His means boy and her means girl. Boy means knobby part, girl is regular and correct. After Sally Mae asked her father if he had a knobby part, George went away for many rotations of the sun. So many rotations of the sun that small Sally Mae never saw George again. But, no bother.
Her father had one rule and one rule only for small Sally Mae, “You must never go into my room or beyond the trees or the pond or the bushes or beyond the huts.”
And small Sally Mae obeyed those rules because she had everything anyone could ever dream of having and all the friends anyone could ever want to have. She was queen of the whole world and could rule all her eyes could see.
You see, Small Sally Mae’s life was perfect. She had no reason to roam beyond the bushes or the pond or the trees or the huts. All of her friends came to her and she never even needed to leave the big house. There was a room of butterflies. A room of clouds. A room of dolls she arranged in so many different ways. There was a room of choo choo trains and a room of velvet curtains. A room of stars and a room of moons and a room of suns. Then there were father’s rooms. She was never to go in there and small Sally Mae never did. Except, truth be told, she did once. She saw smoke and fire and heard yelling and wailing. Small Sally Mae knew she wasn’t to be in this room, but was calm and after a few minutes left the fire room. Sally Mae did not want to upset her father, although didn’t understand what upset meant and had never seen her father upset. Sally Mae once heard her teacher Joanie use the word upset, but Sally Mae never asked what the word upset meant, so Joanie never told Sally Mae what upset was. And Sally Mae was left to guess. Sally Mae’s father alway said Sally Mae had to go to school with Joanie only for as long as Sally Mae wanted, so…
Sally Mae was happy to make the butterfly’s fly, the dolls dance, the choo choo trains puff and smoke, the velvet curtains wave and the sun and moon and stars shine so so brightly. And Joanie would tousle her hair and tell her how smart she was.
Once she made Pedro jump in the pond and swim until she never saw him again. And he was big and how did he cry. Small Sally Mae had never cried and didn’t understand why any people, brown or yellow or black or him or her or Father would cry. Everyone and everything did what she said all of the time and this was how it was and it was perfect. Maybe if she told Pedro not to cry as he swam and swam and swam, He would not cry. But she did not think of that on that on this rotation of the sun so that is how it was suppose to be.
Once small Sally Mae saw her father go down the road and disappear through the bushes. She stared and stared at the place where father went and then he came back. Oh, how powerful and benevolent I am, small Sally Mae thought when her father came back, dusty and burnt, from the bushes.
And so it went. The sun rotated around the world and it was perfect.
After many rotations of the sun, small Sally Mae begin to think she was big and since she thought it, so she was. Big Sally Mae had saw her father disappear into the bushes many times and thought if father can break his rules, so can I.
So once, when the sun was low, Sally Mae set off to the bushes. As she creeped toward the bushes, she heard strange noises, whooshes and muttering and machines. She squeezed into the tall bushes and pushed against the branches and twigs. She pushed and pushed until she fell out onto a hard surface, like a catepillar falling out of a butterfly’s cocoon. The ground was like the floor in the basement. Sally Mae saw shadowy figures moving towards her.
“Stop” she yelled. And they did. Then she saw the eyes of a black one and he burst into flames and there was yelling. A brown one was also on fire. A yellow one, also turned to fire. But all the people, the hims and hers and the yellows and the brown and the blacks kept coming all turning to flames and all coming toward big Sally May. A flaming hand grabbed her ivory horn and pulled her to the ground. Another hand made a slight scarred imprint on her pure bright red skin and all felt warm and comforting. The flaming bodies piled on Big Sally Mae until she could not see the sky and only felt the safe and comforting warmth of the flames. She couldn’t move and thought she may never see her father again, so she would never have to tell him she broke his rule and that was the right and perfect way. Or maybe she was upset, for the first rotation of the sun ever, Sally Mae wasn’t sure.