The Good, Well-Behaved Little Girl
BY HANNAH BRITTEN
Dear unfortunate soul of whom holds this story with- in their hands, There is one thing that needs to be understood about this tale before it is read, we are all meant to be different. There are men who beat their wives, there are men who collect pennies. It is in the differences that we matter. For if we are all the same, then what keeps us from being utterly replaceable? ...
Smart and sweet, she was a petite little thing - these were simple qualities to have but they were hers. Small in voice, but her limbs extended for miles, her stature was tall, although she seemingly took up no space at all. Her name didn’t matter, as long as she stayed quiet and in line. I am sure without any further explanation even you can remember a girl similar to this one. They never had to remind her to wash up before bed, nor did they ask her to quiet down at dinner. She held her own reins and watched her temper. School teachers were her favorite people, they were mentors that she looked up to. Each weekend day she could think of nothing else but school. There was nothing else to look forward to. So she sat and wondered what they would tell her next, guessing at what the assignments would be.
This precious creature had once been talkative and vibrant, filling the air around her with sugary sweetness. But now the books within her room were her only friends and confidants. There were times you could find her sitting upright in her room, on her bed staring across the room toward her bookshelf. Sometimes, she would hold a pillow tightly to her chest, simply gazing through the many shelves of books. Who knows what she was thinking; what she was doing on that bed. Staring. Perhaps she was counting her books, her friends. Maybe she was reminding herself of all the stories they hold, going over them in her head. After all, why else would a perfect little girl be alone in her room motionless? She probably was just daydreaming of what all young girls admire: rainbows, prince charming, happy thoughts, flying and falling in love. The typical illusions and imaginary illustrations of regular girls. This young princess was suddenly so well behaved. The night of her most recent birthday was the last time she cried, and that was years ago! Since then, not a single outburst of sadness or anger had left or shown its ugly head across that beautiful little girl’s face. Subsequently, she always looked pleasing, never did a frown fall across her mouth, or water muddy up her youthful eyes. She simply did her schoolwork, obeyed her list of chores and did her best to blend in, blurring into the background. Her appearance was traditional, her wardrobe consisted of plain clothes: t-shirts, jeans, sweaters, the occasional casual dress when she was told to look nice. Sure, she was cared for enough, despite her easily dismissible demeanor. The girl was not very memorable of course, after all, she was pretty plain.
She sat in her room, she went to school and did all that she was asked to do. Until one day she did not go to school. She did not fall ill, her health remained steady. Yet, a day came where no one saw her leave her room. The teacher barely noticed and without looking he even marked her present. Apathetic to her absence, class continued as usual, the little girl was always too quiet to participate anyway. Back in her home they did not miss her at dinner, nor did they think of her before they went to bed.
The well-behaved little girl had simply slipped from thought. Days had passed by, until someone finally knocked on her door. They needed to borrow a notebook, an item the bookish little thing surely possessed. With still no response upon the third knock they decided to barge in, only to find an empty room. The little girl’s bed was neatly made, her shelves were still stuffed with books, upon books. Not a single item of hers was missing, at least, as far as they could tell. Her room was clean, her homework sat atop her desk. It was as if the well-behaved little girl had gone away. They called the town police, because that is what you did when little girls go missing. The policeman looked around her clean, perfect room. While making notes in his policeman notepad. The officer asked them for a description, of which they couldn’t remember. The poor little thing was so quiet, so small, so well-behaved that she was immediately forgotten. No memory stood out, with no personality traits to name. So when the well-behaved little girl disappeared, there was nothing left to be done. The policeman packed up his things, for there was nothing left for the police to do either.
So they all just continued their day, with barely a hiccup of change or delay. With each passing hour their memory of her faded more and more. The well-behaved, tall, quiet, forgettable little girl left no mark and made no real impression. And so, by the end of the day, if you had happened to come across her old room, you might have noticed the new little girl. She likes to sit on the floor and color. She is just as pleasant, just as polite, and just as plain as the first little well-behaved girl. But most importantly, she is just as replaceable.