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pris and the days when she was called cilly ][ memories

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pris and the days when she was called cilly ][ memories

Post by Guest on Thu Feb 11, 2010 1:29 pm

the following is told from the perspective of the recently deceased officer donnelley of newport news, virginia, regarding his memories of priscilla grace ganesvoort.

i wasn't home as much as i should've been. that comes with the territory, you know. back then when my girl was little i didn't get to choose the hours or the neighborhood or the duty. i just had to say "yes" if i wanted to get up anywhere decent on the totem pole of the force. so allison was the one home with the girls most of the time. it was just once in a while in second grade but by the third grade cilly ganesvoort was at our house about twice a week and about twice a week our mandy was at hers.

i'm not going to lie, at first i was a little reluctant to have mandy go over there. i knew about the ganesvoort 'curse', the whole neighborhood did. it was allison who put her foot down. "marlene's got her head on straighter than an arrow, tim. don't you embarrass me." of course she was right. wives usually are, aren't they? sometimes sig did some wild stuff with the girls when he was home - like the time he rented a helium tank and he and the girls filled the entire guest room top to bottom with balloons, or the time he brought home buckets of paint and he and the girls turned his office into an underwater kingdom and were swimming around like fish for the rest of the day - but mandy loved it and she never got hurt. she said going over to the ganesvoort's was like being in dreamland.

a child doesn't get raised up in dreamland without being a little odd herself. you know kids and their imaginations? well imagine having that same childlike imagination and then having a father who had a knack for trying to make the dreamland a regular part of realityland. the only time you could really notice it beyond the girls' 'let's pretend' games was in conversation. sometimes we had a devil of a time trying to convince cilly ganesvoort that something wasn't true or possible. that's when she'd get you with those big eyes of hers. stare you down with this eerie, worldly calm like she was hooked up directly to the hereafter. then she'd refute you with such gravity you'd think she was the adult in room. "oh no, daddy donnelley. that's not true."

what wasn't true? well, according to the ganesvoort dreamworld creatures did live under beds. people could fly without airplanes. there were plenty of cities underwater. there was such thing as ghosts and all gardens had tiny faeries taking care of them. but the best one by could bend a spoon using just your thoughts and if you'd only hand her a spoon she would show you.

i did hand her a spoon. i think the girls were about ten-years-old that summer. i had the day off and was making hamburgers on the barbecue. it was a gorgeous day and the girls had spent every minute of it outside. most of it on the slip-n-slide. sliding down was like having a time machine that day, if i heard the girls' pretend game right. it wasn't the game i was marveling at though, it was their damn energy. never ran out, and they would have kept at it if i hadn't called them over to eat. it was when i came back with the sodas that i heard them talking about bending spoons.

"now girls. you know a person can't really do that." i always tried to be gentle bursting their bubbles. but most of the time cilly's bubble was one you just couldn't burst. her reply was the usual with a little something extra, "oh no, daddy donnelley. that's not true. if you give me a spoon i can show you." it was the first time she'd ever offered to prove her contrary pudding. i knew i shouldn't have indulged her, but i couldn't help it. i didn't like the look mandy was getting about her lately, like she was starting to believe her best friend's takes on life more than her father. when priscilla took the spoon she made a great show of concentrating on it, her face all crunched up with effort. of course nothing happened and mandy learned that day, but i couldn't convince cilly that nothing changed. "you're not seeing," she told me. she looked at me like she felt sorry for me. "you're looking but you're not letting yourself see." if you ask me what she was seeing was the start of the same brand of crazy sig and her grandmother had. as i served them their burgers i'm sure looked at her like i felt sorry for her, because i did.

but besides those little speed bumps, you better believe priscilla was a regular little girl just like my mandy. i always told that to anyone who asked me, after it all went down. "well let me tell you something. back then she was a regular little girl, believe you me, and that regular little girl's still gotta be in there somewhere." i always believed that. those damn doctors just needed to do a better job of finding her. just like they should have done a better job of keeping watch over sig and noticing the signs. if they'd done that, they could've stopped him before it was too late.

[. . .to be continued . . .]


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Re: pris and the days when she was called cilly ][ memories

Post by Guest on Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:56 am

i'd just started my shift the day the station got the call. our neighborhood wasn't my patrol duty, but i went anyway. i considered it my personal duty and no one tried to stop me. i drove with the sirens blaring and was at the ganesvoort's in under five minutes. i was the first one on the scene, and marlene answered the door. i'll never forget what she said. "he's hung himself, tim. cilly found him in the basement and she won't let go." her voice didn't even waiver. that's marlene ganesvoort for you - that woman will keep her composure come hell or high-water until the day she dies.

i didn't wait for the other patrolmen. i went straight down into the basement and sure enough things were just like marlene had said. one look at sig told me there was no helping him - the way his unblinking eyes bulged, his face had discolored and the bruising spread under the strain of the rope told me it was too late to try and work any miracles. getting priscilla out of there was my main concern. at that point she was probably twelve-years-old, or almost twelve-years-old, still short as a runt in a litter. standing right next to her hanged father, her arms could only hug as high as his knees and she didn't even look at me. she must of heard me coming and she must of known what i would do. "he needs his water," she repeated through her heavy tears, "the bathtub will focus him."

anytime i got near her, she'd scream like i was trying to rip out of her heart. marlene didn't come down with the other officers. she just stood at the top of the stairs and watched as it took all three of us to take care of the situation. the things cilly ganesvoort said and did as we tried to pull her away from sig i blocked out of my mind a long time ago and i'm damn glad for that fact. i never lost my stomach on the job except for that day. the only thing left of those memories is a scar on my forearm where her teeth ripped clean through my skin.

maybe if i hadn't blocked all that out i'd have thought twice before i tried to pull that girl away from her father's grave today. i'd have known better. but that's hindsight for you.

i was at sig's funeral, along with allison and mandy. while her mother was there, cilly wasn't. she was at the riverside behavioral hospital, in a private room. keeping the girl under suicide watch was recommended to marlene because of the ganesvoort's family history. not to mention the trauma they were sure the girl suffered finding her father strung up like that. marlene seemed relieved for the excuse. none of us blamed her, back then. a person can only take so much and i still had the tears in my arm to remind me what cilly was capable of if she put her mind to it. i don't think there was a single one of us who didn't stand by the grave thinking that priscilla ganesvoort's presence would only have been a disruption to the service, and a crack in her own heart.

the regular visits marlene scheduled for her daughter at riverside those months following sig's death didn't help cilly's acting out, but it was only a matter of time before the doctors found out why. the family curse. broke my heart to hear about it, while i'd suspected from the early days i'd still hoped that she'd squeeze by without having to carry that burden. i hadn't planned on telling mandy, but she overheard allison and i talking about it in the kitchen when we thought she'd gone to bed.

from that day on my daughter was different.

my wife tried to sit mandy down, explain things, reason with her. i did too. "cilia's having a rough time, honey," "she's still trying to adjust to life without her father, mandy," gentle things like that. but mandy wouldn't hear any of it. "she's a loony, dad. i can't be seen with a loony." that's my daughter kept telling us, no matter what we said. all the while we were hearing stories about how priscilla had changed, and we started to wonder if we were doing the right thing. after a while, we didn't push the issue anymore. whenever allison and i felt guilty, we reminded each other there comes a time when kids are old enough to make their own choices. we consoled ourselves with the belief that if their friendship ended it was for the best.

months went by, mandy made new friends, and things were back to normal. sig's death and priscilla's diagnosis became old news and were forgotten. until marlene left town. when dominic hyatt came to newport news and filed for legal guardianship, i figured it was my duty to get involved in the proceedings, even if only a little bit. after watching cilly grow up and with all that girl had been through i felt i owed it to her. maybe it was some of that leftover guilt over mandy's scorn rearing its ugly head and making me think i could be mr. fix-it. at any rate, i was there the day the social worker sat down with the hyatt boy and told him that moving priscilla out of the area was out of the question. that there was a probationary period, that there were monthly check-in visits on he and his half-sister required, that priscillia's life had been disrupted enough already.

that's when i pulled the social worker aside. we had a quiet sidebar where i did my damnedest to assure him that giving pris a fresh start somewhere else would be for the best. it worked. it wasn't even a month later when dominic packed them up and newport news was a thing of cilly's past.

funny the things you think of just before you die. i died wondering if all those decisions, any of them, had really been for best. for who's best, that was my last thought.

for who's best.

[ fin! ]


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