It was a rainy Sunday evening , as a second round of dark clouds came into Washington park. The rain came down in pitter patters, and the occasional pour every now and then. Families stayed inside their warm homes with their fireplaces roaring; warm light filtering out on the shiny pavements outside. Little children played in their yards with their yellow jackets slick with drops as the mothers watched from the kitchen window shouting, “Susie! Stay out of puddles, it’ll get all over the carpet!”
Washington park was always a scenic area. Green grass , trees everywhere, lamp posts lit with light every few feet from each other. There were no birds flying home to their babies or dogs barking or chasing their tails.There were no laughing children, all there was was a girl sitting alone on a tire swing. Her long ,black hair sat in clumps of moisture sticking to her forehead and chin. She scrubbed at her skin trying to detach her clingy hair. It didn’t move. She finally gave up. The light overhead gave a circle of light surrounding the girl as she sat alone in her plaid skirt and uniformed shirt. She had no home to go to. She had no mother to yell,” Lilith! Come inside , you’ll catch your death out there in the cold!” No father sitting in his office to type away at a computer doing business at home. Lilith was an orphan
All Lilith could remember was being five, being lead away by the police to the big building downtown. Cambridge’s Home for Orphans. She remembered the dreary grey bricks and cracked windows. She remembered the faces of children looking down at her from their rooms. There was one little girl who had looked down at Lilith ,holding a teddy bear. She had been a sad looking girl with stringy, blonde hair and sad, brown eyes.Lilith wondered why the little girl was still there. She was cute enough to have loving parents. Lilith even remembered wondering if they would end up being friends. She never had a friend before,
Lilith looked up at the sky, back in the present and laughed. She was seventeen now. And she never saw that little girl again. Maybe that little girl got what she wanted. A loving family. Being in an orphanage was like being in a toy store. Everybody wanted the newest toy models instead of the older models. Everybody wanted the younger children instead of the older ones, the younger children were cuter. Lilith yawned when a low mewl echoed. The sound had startled Lilith that she fell backwards off the swing. With a heavy thud , the water from the puddle splashed up her thighs ,and hit her face. Turning to her left , a small grey kitten sat there looking sad. Its fur, heavy with mud and water, weighing the poor tabby down. The tabby’s big, yellow eyes widened at the wave of water that splashed on it when Lilith had fallen.
“Ya’ stupid cat, ya’ scared me!” Lilith grumbled. She ferociously scrubbed at her face to wipe off the rain water from her smudged cheeks. The tabby softly laid one of its tiny paws on her lap and climbed up. Lilith warmed up a little bit, she never had something want her love and attention like this before.
“Ya’ know what? I kinda like ya’, ima take you with me. But don’t let the headmistress see ya’ or hear ya’. She’ll kill ya’.” Lilith scooped the cat up and began to run down the street. With that, the clock tower began to chime signaling the evening hours as the sun waned.
It had been several weeks after she had found the tabby , and it was becoming harder and harder to hide the identity of the cat. There was the snoopy boy in the next room, the creepy janitor , and worst of all, Headmistress.
“Lilith!” the croaky voice of the snoopy boy next door echoed inside the brittle old walls of the orphanage.
” Go away , Billy,” Lilith murmured as she looked on her droopy bed. The tabby’s eyes widened at the sudden noise of someone else other than Lilith. Quickly it had jumped down and skulked under the bed with it’s big eyes glowing from the shadows underneath. Softly laughing, Lilith’s heart raced as Billy , as to be expected, rushed in the room .
” I heard something,” he hissed.
“There’s nothing here ,Billy. Go away.”
” Yes there is. I heard it, i have perfect hearing. Ask Mychael.”
“I don’t care about what Mychael says. Leave.Me. Alone.” Lilith sighed in exasperation.
Billy’s eyes narrowed at her,” Fine,I’ll leave. But if i hear something again, im gonna tell the Headmistress.”
Lilith could feel the anger broiling inside her. ” Whateva’ Billy, just leave me alone. ”
There were always those moments , the tiny flutters of the heart each time Lilith was almost caught. Each time another dangerous person drawing nearer and nearer . The Saturday that had passed a week ago, the Headmistress was in a flurry.
‘Achoo!’ She was a sneezing mess.
“Smith!” Headmistress had shouted.
“Have you taken care of the rodent situation? I’m allergic to animal fur. And i can barely breathe as it is!”
Her nose ran red with consistent wiping as the creepy janitor examined the area , tapping on the walls as if to test the Headmistress.
“There are no rodents here , Miss,” he muttered grumpily.
“Check again idiot. Something is making me like this, it is not my imagination.” Headmistress growled between her teeth viciously. Lilith had been hiding against the back wall with her new cat in her arms. Lilith had held her breathe so hard her head felt faint. ‘Please don’ walk over here…. ‘ She wished desperately in her mind. To her luck, they did not. Barely.
That had been last Saturday. It was now. And nosy Billy was getting close too. ‘This cat is gonna cause me alotta problems…’ Lilith looked down at the glowing eyes under the bed.
“Ya’ gonna get me in trouble , ain’t ya’?” The cat meowed quietly. Lilith couldn’t help but smile at the cat cleansing it’s fur under the bed.
Lilith couldn’t help but think of all the close calls she had. Headmistress was a tall woman with long black hair folded against her head like a raven, her skin leathery and pale. Headmistress was a tough woman who always got what she wanted. There was a time when a drunk, angry father came stumbling back to find his only son. He had smashed several windows, all Headmistress had done was grab her phone and made a call. A couple of men in a black car had pulled up and each grabbed the drunken father’s arms and dragged him away. Headmistress had had a ghost of a smile on her face the rest of that week. And let’s just say, that little boy who was hoping his father would come save him from the orphanage , never came back.
Lilith dreaded the idea of getting on Headmistress’ bad side. For all she knew , The Headmistress could make sure that Lilith never left the orphanage. Or even make her never get a family to take her home. Lilith didn’t dare get caught with the tabby. However, it became more of a challenge to keep it hidden. The cat purred softly as it curled up on her lumpy bed, relaxing in a patch of sunlight. Lilith couldn’t help but smile to herself. She had to admit, her life had become a little bit better with the cat there . It was quite lonely at the orphanage. The orphanage consisted of sad, howling cries at night, and the Headmistress yelling at them to “quiet down”. Lilith hated it there. Oftentimes, she thought of a world where she was free.
‘One more year…’, she thought to herself.
Photo by Mennonite Church USA Archives
Cambridge Girl by Thyme is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.