• Cindy Marabito

Gerdie by Sky: The Legend of Sky Diamond

It was funny that I once believed in princesses. My own childhood was such a horror story that I didn’t pick up on the terror in the fairy tales I used to read. It didn’t stand out to me at the time. I guess, the evil was so natural to me, it didn’t seem strange when accompanied by a story about a beautiful girl in a make believe story. Gerdie was my best friend. I named her Gerda and immediately shortened it to Gerdie. It was from my favorite story The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson. She came from a terrible place out on the Hillebrandt Bayou. Gene had dealings with the lady who ran it. He and his crew would go out there on Saturday nights for the fights. I didn’t know what went on there, but I did know that it was probably something bad. Seemed like everything Gene and those guys had a hand in was bad. But, this one night, it was late, maybe 3 or 4 in the morning and they came in loud. I smelled Chinese food and liquor. They were carrying a puppy with them. She was brown and all covered in blood. At first, I thought she’d been run over. I got up and for once, Gene didn’t tell me to go back to bed. I hadn’t seen him drunk too many times, but this night, he was unsteady. He’d flopped down into a kitchen chair, his eyes droopy. Skitz was holding the puppy. “Look what we brought you, Sky.” The little thing was shivering, but it wasn’t cold. He held her out to me and I took her little body. The blood was still wet and got on my nightgown. You couldn’t tell where it all came from. “Thank you,” I told him. I took the puppy to the bathroom and began running some warm water. I knew even young as I was, the little thing would be scared of the water. I crawled into the tub with her still wearing my gown. The soapy water crept up around us and I could see the dark red from her fur turn brown in the water. I just held onto her while she shook and talked to her soft. “I’m calling you Gerdie,” I told her. I remember reading the story at school and it making me feel safe even with all the frightening parts. How strange that is to remember now looking back. The things that children cling to in order to save themselves. I don’t know how long we stayed there in the bath, but when the water turned cold and it was light outside, we got out, Gerdie and me. Gene was asleep and the guys had gone. I knew Gerdie was hungry and she’d quit shaking finally. It was the first time I recall noticing how the body assimilates fear. The will to survive is a strong thing and can get you through the plague of childhood. After that night, Gerdie was my best friend. She was my only friend.

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