Good-girl, by Kimberly Russo
Skipping down my street in the morning San Diego sunshine, a light reflected off of the empty Coca-Cola bottle at the sidewalk’s end. There really wasn’t anything significant about this glass bottle. I’d seen plenty of them in my five-year-old experience. The same phrase that I always heard when approaching something fragile or otherwise expensive-looking boomed in my consciousness, “Do not touch!”
I scanned the intersection of my shabby neighborhood. Not a sign of life on the sidewalks, streets, or front stoops. Alone. I was completely alone. With no brothers or sisters and full-time working parents, I had long since learned to keep myself entertained. My only companion, the green, condemned house, regarded me from the adjacent corner.
The yellow-blonde hair that reached my waist and a light smattering of freckles across my nose highlighted my angelic appearance. Underneath that aesthetically pleasing exterior, I really was a good girl. I knew this because people were always saying so.
“Kimmy is a good girl.”
“Aren’t you just a good little girl?”
“Oh, what a good girl you are!” I may have been just a good little girl, but I already recognized the value of this positive affirmation. Grown-ups everywhere liked a good-girl. Good-girls got stuff, stuff like candy and ice-cream cones. And more importantly, love. Everyone loved good-girls… and did I ever want to be loved.
A strange feeling tingled in my fingertips. I remembered experiencing this sensation once before now. I had helped myself to a children’s Flintstone vitamin temptingly contained in the PEZ-like, Humpty-Dumpty dispenser. Actually, it had been several vitamins. I knew it was a naughty thing to do, but the thrill of popping out a mystery character and color was too much to resist. Though the guilt of the vitamin incident weighed on my fragile conscience, a similar temptation burned in me now.
I reached down and snatched the glass bottle. It was hot. Prisms of color decorated the black-top, and a new thought formed in my head. I suppose it had existed there from the instant I spotted the reflecting light; Break it. Not just break it; smash it. Wreck it! My ears rang in preparatory glee. I could do something. I had the power to break the bottle and the rules.
It could have been anti-climactic, but it wasn’t. The bottle connected with the concrete in a cacophonous shower of shards. Sheer elation. And then I glanced a few feet behind me.
The policeman with the shiny badge stared straight into my soul. One truth was instantly clear to me… he did not think I was a good-girl.