THE GOOD GIRL, by Morrene Hauser

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"My child arrived just the other day,
he came in to the world in the usual way"....

When I was nine years old, Cat's in the Cradle was the number one song that was playing on the radio
a beautiful song written and sung by Harry Chapin
over and over and over I would hear that song
The year was 1974

Mom had just divorced her third husband
Goodbye, cruel, terrifying Fred.  You will not be missed

...."but there were planes to catch and bills to pay.
He learned to walk while I was away"....

"This is Emil.  We're getting married,  and we're moving back to Wisconsin where he lives" was my first introduction to the man who was soon to become Mom's fourth husband

I looked at Emil shyly turning away when he smiled at me

Off to Las Vegas Mom and Emil went to get married
And soon the packing began for yet another move

..."and he was talkin' 'fore I knew it.  And as he grew, he said, 'I'm gonna be like you, Dad.  You know, I'm gonna be just like you'"....

"Wait until you see my beautiful house.  And you will love riding in my new car," said Emil

Oh, the excitement of seeing that amazing house and riding in his new car!

Somehow in all of the packing my Baby Beans doll got lost

Running in frantic circles with tears flowing down my cheeks
I looked and looked and looked
where is my Baby Beans doll?

Baby Beans!  Where are you?  It's not nice to hide from mommy
Please come out.  I miss you

My baby was nowhere to be found

Crying out my heartbreak
with my arms aching to hold her again
between sobs I asked Mom if she saw my baby

"Oh, QUIT feeling sorry for yourself and stop that fucking crying!" was Mom's angry response to my pleas

I did my best to stop crying
for I didn't want to make Mom mad

Good girls don't cry
And I was a good girl

Baby Beans, momma loves you
I hope I see you again someday

Shortly after I started fourth grade, Emil came back to California to drive us back to Wisconsin

Brother and I were taken out of school, and we began the long drive to his house

Goodbye my friends, my beloved pony Sunshine
My Baby Beans doll
And my babysitter I loved and trusted so much

Hugs and kisses
Goodbye, Little One.  We love you and will miss you
"I love you, too," I said

..."and the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon.  Little boy blue and the man on the moon.
"'When you comin' home, Dad?' 
"'I don't know when.  We'll get together then, Son.  You know we'll have a good time then'"...

Over and over that song played on the radio during that long and boring drive to Wisconsin

"We need to find a place to live when we get to Wisconsin.  I have a roommate,"  Emil said
"Well, kick him out!" said Mom

Emil's roommate was not a "him," it was a "her"
He must have forgotten to tell Mom about his girlfriend who was living in his beautiful house and driving his new car

Brother and I were dropped off at Great Uncle's house in Illinois
while Mom and Emil drove to Wisconsin to find a place for us to live

Back in to the fourth grade I went for the second time, Brother the fifth

Standing in a group of girls at recess
trying to keep warm in the windy and cold winter in Illinois
was hard to do in my thin clothes from California
Thank God for the warm scarf I had crocheted and wrapped around my head

It was decided that I would share a bed with Great Uncle
which turned out to be a very bad idea

...."my son turned ten just the other day.  He said, 'Thanks for the ball, Dad.  Come on, let's play.  Can you teach me to throw?' 
"I said, 'Not today, I got a lot to do.'   He said, 'That's okay'"....

Night after night I lay paralyzed with fear in that lonely and frightening bed with Great Uncle
while his hands touched the most private parts of my body

The sadness, the fear.  The guilt.  The shame.  And the loneliness.  Always the overwhelming loneliness.  

You don't argue with adults! 
Do not be a tattletale! 
were words I heard over and over

And I was a good girl
And good girls kept their mouths shut

...."and he walked away, but his smile never dimmed.   He said, 'I'm gonna be just like him.  You know I'm gonna be just like him'"....

Mom and Emil found a place for us to live in Wisconsin
and back to Illinois they came
to pick Brother and I up
and we continued on our trip
to our new home

On the way back to Wisconsin we stayed in a motel
Awakening to strange sounds in the bed next to where Brother and I were sleeping, I looked over at Mom and Emil

"Harder, Honey, harder!" said Mom.
Mom and Emil were having sex in that bed next to us

Frozen in terror, hugging my knees to the sickness in my stomach
and trying not to look I kept quiet as a mouse as my pillow slowly became soaked with silent tears

I knew better than to let them know I was awake

For good little girls kept their mouths shut
And I was a good girl

...."and the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon.  Little boy blue and the man on the moon.
"'When you coming home, Dad?' 
"'Son, I don't know when. but we'll get together then.  You know we'll have a good time then'"....

The next morning I cried and cried and cried

"What the fuck's your problem now, Morrene?  You drive me nuts!" said Mom

Knowing I would be in trouble if I let Mom know what I saw them doing, I blurted out, "I'm afraid for Emil because he smokes."  That was all I could think of to say

Slowly Mom gathered me in her arms and said, "I know, Honey, I know."

Feeling the rare warmth of Mom's arms wrapped around me somehow did not take away the sickness in my stomach

But I was a good girl
And good girls kept their mouths shut

...."well, my son came home from college just the other day so much like a man I had to say, 'Son, I'm proud of you, can you sit for a while?' 
"He shook his head and said with a smile, 'What I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys.  See you later, can I have them, please
?'"....

In to the townhouse with green carpeting
we moved
And back in to the fourth grade I went for the third time and Brother the fifth

Sitting in class after school
staring at my math homework
Fighting tears of frustration
Why don't I know how to do my math?
Why am I so stupid?

Asking my teacher for help didn't work
feeling my body go numb with fear as I hear the impatience in her voice
I watch her mouth soundlessly move
for in my terror I had lost the ability to hear

I do not ask Mom and Emil for help
Because I might get hit

But I am a good girl
And good girls do not get hit

...."and the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon.  Little boy blue and the man on the moon.
 "'When you comin' home, Son?'
"'I don't know when.  We'll get together then, Dad.  You know we'll have a good time then.'
"I've long since retired, my son's moved away.  I called him up just the other day.  "'I'd like to see you, if you don't mind.'

He said, 'I'd love to, Dad, if I could find the time.  You see my new job's a hassle and the kids have the flu, but it's sure nice talkin' to you, Dad.  It's been sure nice talkin' to you'  "And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me, he'd grown up just like me.    My boy was just like me."

All of these years later, at the age of 53, I still cannot listen to that song on the radio the whole way through without feeling the sadness, the depression and the fear of that  nine-year-old little girl that I once was.  And the gut wrenching loneliness.  Always the loneliness.

When the feelings become too frightening and start to overwhelm me, in desperation I reach over and turn off the radio.

Maybe someday I can listen to that song the whole way through
Just not now

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