Gossip whores (its not nice to gossip)


Gossiping is bad. I know that and so do you. It ruins reputations. It destroys families and friendships. It breaks hearts. Sometimes, it does even worse. I know. I saw what gossip does up front and personal. I let girls tear apart a friend with their gossip. I was too afraid to do anything to stop it. So I guess I’m just as guilty.

My friends were just kids who should have known better but didn’t. But their mothers were another story. They knew better but that didn’t stop them. And, their gossiping didn’t seem to bother their friends and neighbors either because they were the most popular women in our area.They were invited to all the parties, and were involved in all the community events. They were the ladies all the other ladies wanted to be seen with and because of who they were, people listened to their gossip and believed whatever they were told. Their daughters followed their example and did what their mothers did. You can’t blame them though cause most girls adore their moms and want to be just like them no matter how bad they are.

Sticks and stones may break my bones
But names will never hurt me.
Call me this. Call me that…

You know the lines but they’re all wrong. Names do hurt. They hurt real bad but gossip hurts even worse. Christine, Betsy and Jennifer should have known it’s not nice to gossip.

Two years have gone by, and now I finally got the guts to set the story straight about the triple murder that happened right in my neighborhood. I knew the women. I saw them practically everyday. Their murders were in the news for weeks so there is no way anyone could have missed it. People are killed all the time but this story was so gruesome the media wouldn’t let it go. For weeks, they blasted detail after detail. The victims were wonderful community leaders. They were involved with the PTA and the Girls Volleyball team. They were successful fundraisers. They sponsored numerous 5K runs for Breast cancer and MS. The media repeatedly showed pictures of the women at the beach, at parties and community picnics. They were the best of friends smiling smiles of shiny white teeth; their hair and makeup perfect.

Then there was Paula- Paula the killer. The media tore her apart. On the streets, in the malls, at the school, people who knew nothing about her cursed her over and over. They never bothered to ask why Paula did what she did.

Let me tell you this- Paula wasn’t evil. She was a good person. I know that for a fact. And, I’m sick of the news making heroes out of the murdered moms. They weren’t angels – I know that for a fact, too. And Paula? Was she really the demon the media made her out to be? You read my story and tell me what you think. It’s taken me some time to get up the courage to write my story. It’s going to piss a lot of people off but I don’t care. My neighbors still refuse to admit that they had a hand in what happened. My story is going to remind them that they did.

I’m only 15 and I’m not sure where to begin so I guess I’ll just start at the very beginning.

Paula’s house is gone. The community bought it and had it torn down. I can’t blame them for that. Terrible things happened in that house and I guess they wanted to keep weirdoes and gawkers away. So the house is gone but not the memories. I go there a lot, and just stare. Sometimes, if I stare hard enough I can conjure Paula’s house up in seconds. I can see Paula pruning her rose bushes and Abby jumping her rope. I stand there for as long as I can stand it then I say a prayer because praying makes me feel better. Sometimes when I’m praying, Abby’s face flashes before me. Abby crying. No, not crying but sobbing. She’s alone and she’s in pain. Not physical pain but a heartache kind of pain and that’s the worst pain of all.
And I helped to cause it. I dumped her, and I was supposed to be her friend.
I wish I could go back in time. I would make everything all right. But it’s too late. Nobody can go back in time not even God.

I try to block out Abby so I try to focus on the good times but its no use. The ugly times push their way through and they engulf my mind. I cry, then I run till my heart feels like it’s going to burst out of my chest. Running feels good because it makes the bad memories recede till I cant see them anymore.
I swear I’ll never go back but the next day comes and there I am again.

My neighborhood is what you would call upscale- beautiful houses, beautiful cars and beautiful families. My school is beautiful, too. It’s a blue ribbon school, one of the best in the state. The school is what attracted my mom and dad and I guess that attracted Paula here, too.

I lived here since I can remember. I know everybody- the adults and kids- at least by name. I was pretty popular in the neighborhood. I had friends but there was trio of girls that I couldn’t stay away from. As soon as they stepped foot outside, I dumped the kids I was playing with and rushed to be with them. They were the cool kids in our community. That’s no exaggeration- they were cool. So many girls wanted to hang out with them; to be included in their little group but they were rebuffed. They didn’t make the cut but I did. Being part of the cool girl gang made me feel special. We called our little group, the T’s. There was Tabitha, Tamara, Theresa, and me- Tracy. The T’s – I had the same first initial as they did! How often do you see that?

I knew we were meant to be together as best buddies. The T’s -now that was very cool. The girls were a year older than me. I adored them like a little girl full of adoration for her older sister. I loved the way they walked. I loved the clothes they wore and the way they styled their hair. I loved the way they talked and the music they listened to. Whatever they told me to do I did. That’s right- I was like their little puppy dog- that’s how much I admired them. I was so wrapped up with the T’s that I lost my awareness of my own self. My life back then was consumed with being a part of them. Oh, I loved them so much it blinded me to how mean they were. Man, I wish now I didn’t love them the way I did. But it’s too late for that- way too late

Unless there was practice after school, we would get together. After we finished our chores and homework, we took walks in the neighborhood. Sometimes, we would go to the playground to sneak a few puffs of a cigarette Theresa stole from her dad or go to the stream and catch frogs.
There was a house for sale on the other side of our community playground. It had been empty for months. We never paid attention to the house until the day we spotted a large truck and a group of men moving furniture through the front door. We stopped to watch; eager to see who was moving in. The newcomers finally made their appearance and they immediately got our attention. The woman was black, tall and heavy set. The girl who ran in front of her was white with long blonde hair tied up in a ponytail. She was muscular and long legged. All four of us squinted as we watched the woman talking to the men and the girl dashing through the front yard and then into the house and then back outside again. She looked excited and so did the lady. We’ve seen mixed race couples before but this was the first time, we saw a black woman with a white child who was obviously no relation to her.

Theresa took a step forward. “I’m going to see who these people are.” She was in a huff, but then Theresa was always in a huff. Why? I don’t know. I’m sure the other girls noticed too but they never said anything. None of us had the guts to ask Theresa what her problem was. We would never admit it but we were a little afraid of her. Theresa had a mean streak like her mother, a tongue and an attitude that could reduce the toughest girl to tears. We watched as Theresa crossed the street with her hand on her hip just like her mom. We followed behind.
The girl was jumping rope in the front yard that was full of rose bushes smothered under the weight of heavy vines. Her long hair had fallen out and hung luxurious down her back. She saw us and put her rope down. She went to the gate and opened it. “Hi, my name is Abigail but you can call me Abby, that’s what my mom calls me.” She excitedly extended her hand to us. Theresa shook it and then introduced herself with her usual arrogance. Tabitha and Tamara weren’t much better. Everything Theresa did they did.
“What’s your mom’s name?”
“Paula,” Abby chirped, oblivious to Theresa’s attitude.
Theresa frowned. “and who’s the black woman?”
“Oh, that’s my mom.” Abby said as if Paula being her mother was the most natural thing in the world.
“She’s your mom?” Theresa was incredulous.
“She’s not my birth mother. She’s my foster mom but not for long,” Abigail replied in a singsong voice. “What do you mean- not for long?” Theresa grilled Abby like she was on trial. “Oh, she’s going to be my real mom soon after the adoption goes through. “ Abby beamed. She looked at me and I smiled at her. It wasn’t hard for me to smile at Abby. She was adorable. “That’s great,” I said.
Abby leaned toward me as if I was the only person there. “ I love my mom. She saved me. If it wasn’t for her, I’d be dead.”
My eyes widened. The other T’s were silent. They were as interested as I was. “My mom’s a prosecutor in Philadelphia family court. I was in foster care for years and when I finally came up for adoption, she decided to be my mom.” Abby gushed all full of pride.
There was such a twinkling in her eyes. I had to fight the urge to hug her and kiss her like I did to my little sisters.
“Wow, Paula sounds like such a wonderful person.”
“She is. She’s the best mom in the world,” Abby was practically humming.
“So, don’t you think about your real mom? Theresa jumped into the conversation. I shot a look at Tamara and Tabitha. Why was Theresa being a jerk? “Nope, Paula is my forever mom. I love her and she loves me, “ Abby replied without missing a beat. I was amazed.
“Abby, come on. Time for lunch.” The woman who was going to be Abby’s forever mom appeared at the door. She smiled a charming smile at us. “Oh, hello, ladies. Would you like to have a bit to eat?”
We said nothing, feeling a little shy.
“Abby, can you please introduce me to your new friends.”
Abby was bouncing up and down like she was on a trampoline; all full of energy. She named each of us then introduced us to her mother.
“Well, ladies you’re welcome to join us.” Paula smiled. I couldn’t take my eyes off her long neck and her full lips. They reminded me of the models I saw in the Vogue magazines I browsed through at the library.
We stepped forward.
Paula held the door open and mentioned for us to come in, “Come on, ladies. Don’t be shy. I know you must be hungry.”
We were hungry. We walked in. We had never been in this house before. It was beautiful. Bright, shiny hardwood flooring went the front door to the back door. I could smell fresh paint. Large porcelain ceiling fans buzzed above. In the living room was a large stone fireplace; above the mantle was rifle that looked to me to be pretty old. I was impressed but not Theresa. When she stepped into the living room, she froze. “I think I need to go home,” she said suddenly all jittery.
I was surprised. “I thought you said you were starving. What’s wrong?”
“I have to do something. I just remembered.”
I was totally baffled. I should have known it was nothing but a lie. Silly me. I fell for it.
The other girls were nervous, too but that was only because Theresa was nervous. “I got to go,” she insisted. “So do I ,” Tamara jumped in. Tabitha said the same.
“Oh OK then go, “ I shrugged my shoulders. I wasn’t about to leave.
“You’re not coming?” Theresa gave me a dirty look.
“No, I’m staying,” I replied. It was the first time, I didn’t let Theresa tell me what to do.
Unfortunately it was my last time, too.

Abby was surprised but not upset when the girls decided to leave. We walked them to the front yard. Abby waved goodbye then she turned her full attention to me. I was the one she was interested in. Now, that should have made me feel special.

Paula was sweet but not an overly phony sweet like the three T’s moms. Paula made me feel comfortable as soon as I walked in. It was like I had known them all my life. Abigail was smiling ear to ear. It was obvious that she adored Paula and I could tell Paula adored sweet Abigail, too. Abby showed me her room. Boxes were everywhere. Her bedroom set was light cherry wood and brand new. “ I love it,” I said as I slide my hand along the Chest of drawers top. “I love it, too” Abby squealed as she jumped on top of her mattress, “ but this is what I love the most.” She bounced up and down and smacked her palm against the ceiling. “Come on, Tracy.”
I didn’t hesitate. I jumped up and down on the mattress, too. We held hands and giggled like best forever friends until Paula yelled at Abby to get off the mattress. “That mattress is brand new, Abby. Now I told you.”
“Ok, mom. “ Abby moaned then grinned at me.
“Come on, you two. Your sandwiches are ready.” We rushed out her bedroom door but I saw something that caught my attention. On the wall was a painting of a baby. I stopped. “oh, she’s beautiful.”
“That’s me,” Abby announced beaming. “I never had any pictures of me when I was a baby so my mom hired an artist who was able to imagine how I looked as a baby.” I stared at the painting. It was incredible. No question in my mind that was how Abby looked when she was a baby. “You’re so lucky to have Paula as mother. She loves you so much.”
Abby grew thoughtful, “ I know. I love her, too.” We gazed at the portrait in silence.
Paula yelled again. “Girls, please.” The spell was broken. We raced down the stairs and into the kitchen. Paula laughed as we slid on the newly polished wood and into our seats.
“My mom makes the best sandwiches” Abigail bragged. She was right. They were the best I ever ate.
I stayed until the sun set. I promised Abby I would come for in the morning. The look of glee on her face would stay with me forever. Dear Abby. Sweet Abby.

Theresa was right. She did have something to do. As soon as she left Paula’s house, she rushed home to tell her mother, Jennifer what she had seen. Jennifer was incredulous. Tamara and Tabitha confirmed what Theresa has seen. Jennifer wasted no time in alerting Tabitha and Tamara’s mothers then they called my mother. By the time I left Abby’s, the news was all over the neighborhood.
When I walked through the door, I was shocked to see my mother waiting for me.
“Where were you?’ she demanded.
I was dumbfounded. What was the attitude for? “I was with our new neighbors. Paula and Abby.”
My mother glared at me, “ I don’t want you in their house again. As a matter of fact, just stay away.”
“You heard me, young lady.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Mom, you don’t even know them. Why are you acting like this?”
Mom walked briskly into the kitchen and I followed after her.
“Listen to me,” she thundered as she put the dishes into the dishwasher.
“I need an explanation. I just can’t stop being friends with Abby when I just met her.” My mother straightened herself. She towered over me. I gulped as she stared straight into my eyes. “I just got off the phone with Jennifer. She said Theresa was scared too death.”
“What?” I thought. Was this is some kind of joke?
My mother was getting more annoyed by the minute and so was I.
“Mom, you’re talking in riddles. What is going on?” Now it was me who raised my voice.
My mother took a step closer to me. I shut up. “Theresa said she saw a gun in that woman’s house.”
“Oh that. It wasn’t a gun. It was a rifle. It was hanging over their fireplace.”
My mother let out a groan. I looked at her baffled. “Whats the big deal, Mom? Its not like she was pointing it at us?”
My mother looked like I had slapped her. “Oh my God. So Theresa wasn’t exaggerating. There is a gun in that woman’s house.”
“Mom, please. You’re blowing this all of proportion.” So that’s why Theresa left in such a hurry. I shook my head in disbelief.
“I mean it, Tracy. Don’t go in that house again. I don’t want you around people who have guns.” My mother snapped.
“Mom, please.”
But she didn’t want to hear anymore. She raised her finger to her lips. That was her way of shutting me up.
“Fine.” was all I could say.

So Theresa was the one who started the trouble. I should’ve known. The little bee ran home to her Queen bee who alerted the other Queen bees. Before the night was out the swarm had gathered. But this swarm wasn’t a swarm of honey bees. It was a swarm of killer bees readying their stingers to strike at an unsuspecting woman and child.

My mom told me to stay out of Abby’s house but not out of her yard. So in the morning I went over to Abby’s and walked with her to the bus stop. Paula was with us, too. She wanted to be there for Abby’s first day going to school. She took at least a dozen pictures of the both of us smiling like models for a Teen magazine. I have two of the pictures. I keep them on my dresser mirror.

After soccer practice, instead of waiting for the T’s, I headed straight for Abby’s house. We played ball in the front yard as Paula put her green thumb to work. Right before my eyes, she transformed a dilapidated front yard into an English garden. I loved to watch her pruning away at her roses. Once, she saw me watching her. She giggled embarrassed, “ Oh, don’t mind me. I just love Roses.” I told her I loved them, too. The next time I stopped over, she gave a large bouquet wrapped in a red silk ribbon.

I took the bouquet to my room and put it in a vase. The roses filled my room with their sweet smell. I kept them for as long as I could. Just before I tossed the roses I managed to save one for me and one for Abby. I dried them out and put them inside my bible. I still have them.

At school, I introduced Abby to all my buddies. I brought her to eat lunch at our table. I saw Theresa exchange looks with the other girls but decided to ignore it. Throughout the week, I took walks with Abby. We played basketball and soccer together. She was an athlete and so was I. She liked the same music I liked. She liked to read and so did I. She loved the same sports that I did. I knew we were going to be great friends.

I hoped that Theresa, Tabitha and Tamara would make Abby feel welcome, but they never did. When Abby tried to talk to them they would walk away leaving Abby dumbfounded. At first, I thought they were just being snobby and they would get over it. But they didn’t. Whenever the five of us got together, you could cut the tension with a knife. Theresa would roll her eyes but I ignored her.

I was stupid back then. I thought the girls would eventually warm up to Abby despite their initial scare over the rifle. Besides, what did having a rifle in her house have to do with Abby as a person? Nothing. At least that’s what I thought. But the girls had a different opinion.
One day, they walked past my house. They didn’t stop. I was surprised. I called to them. They stopped. I rushed up to them. “What’s going on?” Theresa rolled her eyes but said nothing. I got in her face. “What’s going, Theresa!” She looked at Tabitha and Tamara. They burst out laughing. I wasn’t laughing. I was fuming. “What’s the problem? You walk past my house and you don’t knock for me?”

Theresa grinned a nasty grin. I wish I had the courage to slap that grin off her face. But I didn’t. My anger turned into fear.
Finally, Theresa put her hand on her hip. “OK. I’m going to tell you. If you want to hang out with us then get rid of Abigail. We don’t want her around us.”
“Because we don’t like her. So make your choice -us or her,” she snapped. I was shocked. All I could do was stare with my mouth hanging open like a fish gasping for air. I hated Theresa then and there but belonging to the T’s was the most important thing in the world to me. “and Tracy, if we stop hanging out with you then our mothers will stop hanging out with your mother and your mother wont have anyone to talk, too. Our moms are the most popular in the whole area. You don’t want your mother to be an outcast, do you?”
“No,” I whispered.
“Well, there you go then. Make your choice.”
I felt like a child being reprimanded by her mother. I made my choice. I had to be the Cool kids. Theresa won. Abby lost.

Gossip is ugly and the T’s were the biggest gossips in our school. They gossiped all the time but I just ignored it because it had nothing to do with me or anybody I cared about. Mostly it was just stupid gossip. But with Abby, they took their gossiping to a more terrible level. I never imagined how much pain it would cause.
I had no idea what the mothers of the T’s were up to either. Their gossiping was the worst because others believed everything they said. But, I didn’t pay attention to them. They were adults and adults didn’t interest me. Besides, I had problems of my own. I decided that being with the T’s was more important than Abby. But I didn’t have the nerve to tell her to her face that I didn’t want to be friends with her anymore.

I did what I thought I would never do. I dumped Abby and she was the one who loved me like a sister.

The day after I made my choice, I simply stopped talking to Abby. I stopped going to her yard. I simply stopped being her friend. She was astonished at first. I don’t blame her for that. I would have been, too. She called my house but I never answered her calls. She knocked for me but I told her I was busy. She chased after me in school and I ran away from her with the T’s egging me on not to look at her. It was mean. I was a mean.

A few weeks went by and Abby continued to follow us home from school. “Just tell me, Tracy. What I did I do wrong?” she would cry after me. I never said anything because there was nothing to say.
One day, Abby got too close. She got so close her school bag knocked against mine. “Get away from us, Abby. We don’t like you, even Tracy doesn’t like you,” Theresa hissed. That was a lie but I said nothing.
Abby stopped in mid step. Her eyes welled up with tears. She began to shudder. “Why?”
“Look she’s crying,” Theresa sneered. Tamara and Tabitha sneered, too. “No one likes you.” Theresa hissed, “You’re a friggen weirdo so stop creeping on us.” With that the T’s turned away. Abby had been dismissed. I followed. Abby followed too, keeping her distance. She pleaded after me, “Tracy, I thought you were my friend. Please don’t do this.”
I never answered. Gradually her pleas were reduced to whimpers that turned into echos caught along the curbs and up into the trees resounding around me long after she had stopped following.
I looked back when I knew the three T’s weren’t looking. I caught a glimpse of Abby as she headed toward her home- stricken; limp and broken.
I wanted so badly to run back to her and tell her what was going on and ask for forgiveness. But I made my choice. I choose mean girls over a sweet girl. Why did I do that?

Every year, our community had a picnic. Flyers went out. Paula bought tickets for herself and Abby. I know that because I overheard Theresa’s mother, Jennifer tell my mother. Jennifer didn’t want Paula and Abby to come to the picnic. She didn’t like Paula even though she never spoke to Paula. She laughed as she told my mother she was going to do whatever she could to make sure Paula and her foster child – she emphasized foster child like it was a venereal disease- didn’t come.
I felt sick to my stomach. But the problem was the community couldn’t disinvite Paula and Abby. This was a paid event and tickets were already purchased. But Jennifer had other plans. She, Bessie and Christine had volunteered to grill the hamburgers and hot dogs. Jennifer vowed she was going to make it hell for Paula and her daughter. She snickered again and my mother laughed.

There was a huge crowd at the picnic. Jennifer, Betsy and Christine were kept busy most of the afternoon. The men were drinking beer and telling jokes. The women were sipping wine and gossiping about Paula and Abby. It was late in the afternoon, and Jennifer remarked that maybe Paula and her daughter weren’t going to show after all. Everyone laughed.
“Oops, Jen. You spoke too soon.” Betsy laughed then pointed, “Look who’s coming to dinner.” Christie roared but Jennifer made an ugly face. “Damn it.” She hissed. Paula and Abby walked up to the crowed smiling. Immediately, the picnic went from happy to tense.

I know Paula sensed the change in mood. She tried her best to chat with the women but was rebuffed. Abby was devastated. She watched as her mother tried so hard to be accepted. She tugged at her mother’s arm. “Mom please lets go. They don’t want us at their party.” Her voice cracked as she looked anxiously around. She caught my eye but I looked away.
Paula had had enough. She stormed over to Jennifer, “What is your problem?” Jennifer smirked. “Why are you giving my daughter and me such an attitude?” Jennifer rolled her eyes at Bessie and Christine. Men walked over. They stood next to the grill, and put their hands on their chest like they were the ladies’ bodyguards. Paula glared at them. She was not frightened but Abby was. She clung to Paula. “Why don’t you want us here?” Paula demanded. She really had no idea why the community would hate her so much. Nobody invited her to their houses for coffee or to their parties. No one ever had a conversation with her.
Jennifer was exultant, “because nobody likes you.”
“What?” Paula was surprised.
Jennifer decided now was the time to drive the stake in Paula’s heart. “ You and your daughter are weirdos. Stay away from us.”
A crowd had gathered. Paula looked at the smug faces of Betsy and Christie. “Wierdos? What the hell are you talking about?”
It was Christie’s turn to speak up, “We know all about you.”
Paula was baffled. “What do you know about me that I deserve to be treated like this?”
She looked at the women who were standing shoulder to shoulder. Abby clutched her mother’s arm, “Mom, they don’t want us here. They don’t like us. Please let’s go, mom.” But Paula wouldn’t budge. She glared at the crowd. She was controlling herself for Abby’s sake. I could tell. I watched as they walked away. I heard Abby beg, “ Mommy please lets get out of here.” Then I heard Paula, “The hell with them. We have the right to be here as much as they do.”
They walked away stiff legged like they were waiting for someone to plunge them in their backs. And that’s exactly what happened. I don’t mean a physical punch but a punch that hurts just the same.
Paula and Abby were almost out of earshot when Betsy announced, “There they go – mother and daughter walking off into the sunset.” The crowd snickered at the words.
“Hah,” Christine laughed, “the little girl isn’t her daughter. She’s her foster child.”
Jennifer chimed in, “Yep, that’s her foster child. The only reason why she has Abby is to get money from the state. Right, Paula?”
That line got Paula’s attention. She stormed over to the there women. The muscles in her face were twitching. Abby wept as she tried to pull her mother back. “Mommy, please. They’re not worth it.”
“I will not, “ Paula said firmly.
She went up to Jennifer. “She is my daughter and I am her mother. Don’t you dare ever call her my foster child. She’s my daughter.”
Jennifer mocked her with her evil little giggles but Paula wasn’t intimidated- not one bit. “Go away,” Jennifer flicked her hand into Paula’s face like she was flicking away an annoying fly. She smirked at Betsy and Christine. Then Paula grabbed Jennifer’s wrist and jerked her forward. She was a big woman who could have easily broke Jennifer’s wrist. Jennifer laughed nervously as she struggled against Paula. The men pressed closer with their arms across their chests ready to attack. Paula simply looked at them as if daring them to do something then she turned her attention to Jennifer. She stared hard into Jennifer’s eyes. “Look everyone, she’s nuts. I told you she was nuts. She wants to kill me,” Jennifer squealed, her voice higher than usual.
“If I didn’t have to worry about going to jail and leaving Abby, I would kill you.” Paula hissed so low I could barely hear her word the she released Jennifer’s wrist and walked away with her head held high and her shoulders straight.
“Did you hear that everyone? She’s threatening to kill me.” Jennifer laughed nervously.
The crowd glared at Paula as she took Abby’s hand. “Stop crying, Abby. They’re nothing but gossip whores just ignore them.They’re not worth our time.”

Paula should have known that ignoring gossip whores is easier said than done. Gossip can break the strongest of women. Imagine what it does to girls. It can do more than just break hearts.
Some men were impressed with Paula though despite what the women thought. One said, “You can tell she really loves her daughter.”
“She’s not her daughter.” Jennifer retorted.

Halloween came. Our community was bursting with kids and teenagers dressed in every custom imaginable. But only a hand full of kids came to Paula’s door and they were from outside the community. Paula gave out full size Hershey bars. Theresa’s brother, Harry wanted one. He told Theresa to walk with him to the crazy lady’s house but Theresa refused. You won’t catch me on that freaks’ property. Harry asked me but I refused, afraid that Theresa would get mad and that would be it for me. I couldn’t chance it. “Come on, “ he begged. I shook my head at first then I finally gave in. “I’ll wait by the curb.” I walked over and watched as he rang the bell. Paula looked surprised, “come in.” But Harry said no.
“Why not?” Paula asked.
“Because my mom said we’re not allowed in your house.” Harry replied.
“Can I ask why?” Paula asked with a controlled voice.
Harry was all mouth, “ My mom said its because my sister said you have guns and she’s afraid that you may try to kill us.”
“What?’ Paula gasped. Her face crumbled.
Harry shrugged his shoulders, “ Can I have a candy bar?” Without a word, Paula gave Harry his candy bar and shut the door.

Theresa told me the next day that Paula called her mother. She was full of glee as she told me how her mother screamed at Paula about how dangerous guns were and that she never wanted her daughter exposed to them. Guns had no place in society- at least that’s what Theresa and her mother thought, and if they thought that then it must be right. Theresa told me that her mother told her that Paula said her rifle was for show not use. Paula had never fired a gun in her life but it didn’t matter, the damage was already done. Paula and Abby’s reputations had been ruined months ago.
Jennifer, Bessie and Christine were on a roll. They took pleasure in spreading more gossip about Paula and her daughter. Paula and Amy shot cats. Paula had an arsenal of loaded guns that she left lying around her house. Most of the gossip was nonsense. I’m ashamed to write my mother was part of the network. She participated in the gossip and I never said a single word to stop it.

Then, Abby did something she would immediately regret doing. It wasn’t her fault. She meant no harm. Its just that she was so desperate for friends, she would go out of her way to say something nice or do something nice just to get a bit of attention. One day at lunch, a girl named Michelle was showing off her pendant that hung low on her chest. She was a big girl and had developed a lot earlier than most of the other girls. Abby watched as the girls hovered around Michelle making remarks about how beautiful the pendant was. Abby made her way through the group. She picked up Michelle’s pendant, looked it over and then placed it back on Michelle’s chest. There was an awkward silence. Supposedly, Amy ran her fingers on Michelle’s breast. Michelle freaked out and shoved Abby so hard she staggered back and fell. “What did I do?” she stammered.
Michelle was in a frenzy. “Did you see what she did? Get away from me, you weirdo.”
Abby was shocked to tears. “What?”
“Get away from me or I will kick your ass, “ Michelle thundered. Amy got up and walked away cowering like a dog with its tail between its legs. The next day, the gossip was all over the school and in our community-Abby was a lesbian. The gossip was so ludicrous; I had to tell people that it wasn’t true. The next day, I got nasty looks from girls in the cafeteria, and the cold shoulder from Theresa. I shut up.

Not long after the Michelle incident, I heard that a group of girls had surrounded Abby and took turns shoving her. They called her a dyke over and over again. The T’s laughed uncontrollably as they described Abby’s hysteria as she struggled to break through their circle.
The next day, Paula was at the school. I saw her as we changed classes. She didn’t see me as she walked in and I made no effort to get her attention.
According to what Betsy had told my mom, the principal told Paula there was nothing he could do since the event happened off of school grounds. None of the girls were called to the office. No one was suspended or even given detention. No adult made any attempt to stop the bullying or the gossiping.

Abby changed. She lost weight. She no longer took care of her beautiful hair. She sat alone at lunch. She walked the hallways with her head down. She went from sweet to pathetic; melting away right before my eyes. Our school days blended one into another. They are supposed to be the best days of a girls’ life but not for Abby. She became a target. Even kids who didn’t know her tripped her, knocked her books from arms, and stuck bumble gum in her hair. She was teased relentlessly about her black mother and the guns in her house. She no longer cried out loud when kids shoved her in the school hallways. She didn’t flinch when boys made remarks about her flat chest. She was like a tiny mouse constantly on the alert for danger. Her tears, she kept to herself.
Theresa had no mercy. She knew Abby was in a frail position and she loved pouncing on girls who were frail. She harassed Abby at the bus stop. Abby must have complained because after that Paula drove her to the bus stop. Right at the corner, Paula would wait until the bus arrived and watch as Amy got on the bus.
One day, Abby said out to Paula. “Mom, I hate this school. I don’t want to go here. “ Paula looked at Theresa and said, “if they touch you, It’ll me and their mothers.” Abby gave her mother a strange look as she walked past us and goton the bus.

That threat didn’t stop the T’s. She, Tamara and Tabitha stalked Paula and Abby whenever they saw them at the supermarket. Up and down the aisles they would follow Abby and Paula. They would whisper to each other and giggle at Abby or smack their carts into Paula’s and laugh as they said sorry. The store manager was no help. She said there was nothing she could do because the girls weren’t doing anything wrong.

The three T’s didn’t know when to stop. When Paula and Abby went for walks, they rode their bikes. Sometimes they get so close to Paula and Abby they practically touched their heels with their tires. When Paula and Abby stopped. They stopped. When Paula and Abby moved on, they did too, snickering and making remarks about Abby being a foster child. It was that remark that always brought Abby to tears. Paula went first to Jennifer then Bessie and Christie and complained. But they were just as nasty as their daughters. “My daughter has as much right as you do to be as in this community. Now get away or I’ll call the police,” Jennifer threatened.

With the blessings of their mothers, the three T’s continued their campaign but now their mothers joined in. Wherever Paula went, they made it sure they were there, too. Whispering into each other’s ears, close enough for Paula to hear.
“I should get foster kids, too.” Jennifer would whisper. I know all about what they did to Paula because Jennifer would tell my mother everything she, Betsy and Christine did and then laugh about it.
“What a great way to make money from the state,” Christine would whisper back. They knew Paula heard every word. How Paula managed to keep her composure, I’ll never know.

Months went by and the killer queen bees continued with their death stings. When a new neighbor moved in, Jennifer, Betsy and Christine welcomed them. The new neighbors were invited to parties and events. “Oh, by the way,” the women would announce, “stay away from them” and point to Paula’s house.

Finally, Paula reached a point she couldn’t take it anymore. She went to the police and complained about the stalking and the rumors and the lies, but they told her the same thing. As long as she and Abby weren’t being threatened physically there wasn’t much they could do. Paula was told the T’s and their mothers had every right to be where they were.

I had stopped talking to Abby a long time ago so I never knew what was in her heart. But it was obvious she was suffering. I knew it and so did everyone else. But none of us knew her suffering was so deep she wanted to die.
If only I could go back in time. I would have righted all the wrongs we did to Abby. I would have told Theresa to go to hell, and I would have told Jennifer, Bessie and Christie to go to hell, too.
It was summer when it happened. School was almost over. It was day no different from the others. Paula drove Abby to the bus stop and waited for the bus to come. She watched as Abby got on the bus then she headed off to work. If only she knew what was in Abby’s heart maybe Paula would not have been so stubborn. Maybe she would have moved and taken Abby to a new school where she could have started all over. Maybe. Maybe. Our hearts are full of maybes when there’s not turning back.

No one had bullied Abby for days. But that day at lunch, Abby supposedly touched a girl with her lunch tray. The girl went berserk. She shoved her fist under Abby’s tray and punched it hard. Abby’s lunch went into her face and hair. The entire lunch room roared in laughter. Abby didn’t say a word. She picked up her tray and walked back to where she usually sat. “So what are you going to do, Abby? Cry to mommy.” The girl was practically in her face.

Theresa beamed. Here was another opportunity to hurt Abby.
“She doesn’t have a mother. Paula’s her foster mother. The state pays her to take care of Abby.”
Abby winced. The kids at my table burst out laughing. Tabitha put her two cents in, “at least I have my real mother. My mother loves me. She would never give me up.” Abby put her hands to her face to hide her tears as all the kids jeered at her. “I bet she doesn’t even know who her father was.” Abby got up from her chair and left the lunchroom. I watched as she ran up the stairwell. Tamara remarked, “Abby’s father didn’t love her. Thank God my father loves me.”
The rest of the kids agreed and I did, too.

It was during dinner, that my mother got a call from Christine. Her voice was so loud I could hear her from where I sat. “The police are at that women’s house.”
My mother jumped from her chair and rushed to the window. “Oh my God, an ambulance is coming.”
I ran to the kitchen door and pushed it open. My sisters and brothers crowded around me vying for a good spot. “What’s going on?” our neighbor called to my mother. She walked toward us as she gazed at the commotion at Paula’s house. “Should we take a look?” she asked nervously.
My mother tied up her hair and walked out. I followed. Other people were following behind us. Cars pulled up. Three women jumped out of their cars, “Something’s happened to Abby.”
I looked at my mother astonished.
“How do you know?” my mother asked. There was frightened look on her face. “Look, here come the cops and an ambulance,” one of the women replied.

I ran as fast as I could. My mother ran behind me. A crowd had gathered. Jennifer, Bessie and Christine were in the front holding hands with their daughters. They appreciated drama and they got what they were looking for. The paramedics opened the door. They brought up a stretcher. When they emerged from the house, there was a white plastic bag on the stretcher. I felt faint. My knees felt like rubber. I grabbed my mother’s arm to keep from falling.

Paula followed behind the paramedics. She howled like an animal caught in a trap. The women I had seen earlier were holding her as they made their way out the door. One of them said, “Paula, I love you. I’m so sorry. Mommy is on her way.“ Paula sobbed even louder when the woman mentioned her mother then she stopped suddenly when she saw her daughter’s tormentors and their mothers.

“You killed my Abby. You and your rotten daughters did this.” Her voice had grown horse from her screams. She lunged at Jennifer but Jennifer jumped back. “She’s crazy. I told you she’s crazy.”

Paula howled again and her sisters held her with all their strength. She wanted nothing more than to tear Jennifer apart. “Paula, she’s not worth it. There’s nothing you can do.”
“Oh, yes there is!” Paula thundered as she pointed her finger at Jennifer and then at the others. “I’ll make all of you pay for what you did.”
“It’s your fault, Paula. You should have taken your daughter and left when you had the chance.“ Christine taunted her.
It was Paula’s sister who opened her mouth this time. “Shut up, woman or I will let my sister go.”
Suddenly, Paula stopped. Her senses cleared. She straightened her shoulders and lifted up her chin. She looked at Jennifer, Betsy and Christine as if seeing them for the first time. “The 3 little monkeys are gonna get what they deserve.”
Jennifer gasped as she looked around at the people standing next to her. “did you har her. She threatened me. She’s nuts, I told you she was.”

Paula never wavered as she continued, “See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.” Now she was the one who was taunting. Jennifer was completley unnerved.
“Go to hell, Paula. Go to hell with your foster daughter,” she screamed. If there was a moment when Paula should have beat the hell out of Jennifer- that was it. Instead she walked away. There was a small smile on her lips.

At first the cops were too stunned to do anything except watch but when Jennifer told Paula to go to hell with her daughter, they had had enough. “All of you out of here. Lets go.”
Everyone did as they were told. They turned their backs on Paula and her sisters and headed back home. I was sobbing so hard I could barely see.
My mother was annoyed. “Why are you crying?” She asked. “You never liked her.”
I stopped walking so quickly my youngest sister slammed into me but I was too struck by what my mother said that I hardly noticed. “What are you talking about? I did like her. You’re the one who didn’t want me around her.” At that moment, I hated my mother.

Abby must have known Paula wouldn’t be home until late that evening. She took her jump rope and hung herself from her ceiling fan in her bedroom. I know that because I overheard my mother talking to Jennifer who told all the details she got from the school nurse who knew the police captain who had got the call from the 9-11 dispatcher. Abby had broken her neck.

Gossip travels fast.

I was so stricken by Abby’s death; I could barely eat or sleep. I didn’t want to see anyone especially the T’s. They called and stopped by but I didn’t want anything to do with them ever again. They laughed when I told them and left without a backward glance. They were never my friends. I should have known.

But I didn’t care anymore. A girl who would have been my best friend was dead. It was too much for me to handle. I cried then slept. Sometimes when I woke up I would think I had a bad dream then I would realize it wasn’t a bad dream then I would cry all over again.

Two days went by. I stayed in my room. No matter what my parents did I wouldn’t get out of bed. I didn’t care about school. I refused to go to my soccer game. My father told my mother to leave me alone and that’s what she did. I spent most of my time staring at the ceiling.

My mother was worried. She made me my favorite foods but I wasn’t interested. All I wanted was water. My mother got it for me and placed it on my nightstand. I feel asleep and when I awoke I was thirsty. I stretched out my hand to get the water and when I did I knocked my bible to the floor. I got out of bed to get it. The two roses that Paula gave me were sticking out. I smiled as I touched their dried out petals. I opened my bible. A petal was wedged in between the pages. I took it out and saw the passage it had covered. I read it. The words sucked my breath away. “Oh, Abby, I’m so sorry. Forgive me, please.”
The sorrow that I held inside, surged forth like a violent swell of water. I couldn’t catch my breath. I struggled. I was being sucked down. “Mommy,” I screamed, “help me, help me!” My mother was in the next room putting my sisters to bed. She rushed in.
“Tracy, what’s wrong?’
“I killed her,” I struggled to get air into my lungs.
“Sweetheart, you didn’t kill her. She killed herself”

That was no consolation for me. I began shrieking. “I killed Abby. She needed me and I turned against her. “ The dark water was now a raging whirlpool dragging me down into its current. I was drowning.
“Mommy, help me. Please help me. Abby wouldn’t be dead if I had stayed her friend.“ I raised my hand up to my mother. She took it and lifted me up. My father was home now. He heard my cries and ran up the steps. He took me from my mother and carried me downstairs, and put me on the couch. I had lost my mind. I shrieked and clawed at the air. I killed Abby. No matter what my parents said there was nothing they could do to calm me.
I turned away from them burying my face into the cushions.

I felt a hand on my neck. It was our priest, Father Mark. He had baptized me and my brothers and sisters. He knelt beside the couch. His face level with mine. “Tracy, I heard about Abby. Your parents told me you are blaming yourself for what happened.”
I burst out crying and blurted out everything. “Father, I’m so sorry for hurting Abby. I was a coward. I turned my back on my friend.”
There were tears in the old priests’ eyes. I told him that what I read the Bible caused me to cry hysterically.
“What passage are you talking about, Tracy? Can you show me?”
My mother handed me my bible. I found the passage and read it. “Be strong, and of good courage. “ I sobbed again. “See father. I wasn’t strong. I had no courage. I betrayed Abby. Now she’s dead.”
Father Mark took my bible and reread the passage. He sighed deeply. “You got it all wrong.“
I stared at him.
“This passage is meant for you now, Tracy. Be strong and courageous. This is a message for you.”
I stared at the old priest. Maybe Abby was reaching out to me. She knew about the roses I had pressed into my bible. What Father Mark said made sense.
“Father, can you pray with me please?” I slid off the couch and knelt next to him. I pressed my hands together tightly to stop shaking and Father Mark placed his hands over mine. My sisters and brothers knelt next to me. I prayed for forgiveness. I prayed for courage and strength. Even though I felt physically weak and drained I felt a sense of strength through prayer.
That night, I slept without waking up.

A few days later, I saw a black limo pull up to Paula’s house. I put my favorite dress on and I walked over. Paula came out of the house. Her sisters were holding her hands. Tears filled my eyes when I saw her. She gasped when she saw me. “Miss Paula, please let me come with you. I want to say goodbye to Abby. “
“No.” Paula replied then walked past me without another look.

No one went to Abby’s viewing or funeral. No one was invited. I found out later where she was buried but I didn’t dare go there for the longest time. I was scared too death I would run into Paula. And what would I say if I did run into her at her daughter’s grave? I felt ashamed even thinking about such a meeting. It made me wish I were dead instead of Abby.

Time went by but instead of moving forward, Paula collapsed inward. She wandered the streets with a faraway look in her eyes. She lost an enormous amount of weight. Her hair that she kept so perfectly styled was now tangled and course. Sometimes, she was seen walking aimlessly in the park talking to herself.

The Gossip whores were back at it again. Tongues wagged.
“Her car is always in the driveway everyday.”
“How’s she supporting herself?”
“She’s going to lose that house and that will hurt the value of ours”
“She looks like she’s homeless. We need to do something.”
The gossip went on and on. No one ever approached Paula.

Then she disappeared. Some of the neighbors thought she had gone back to work but they were proven wrong when constant hammering was heard from her back deck. The hammering went on for hours at a time. it would stop for a few days then start back up again.

I decided I had to visit Paula. I wasn’t sure how she would react but I told myself I had to at least try.

I called out as loudly as I could as I came up to her gate. There was no answer. I didn’t wait to be invited. I opened the gate and walked to the back where I heard her hammering and singing.
“Hello Miss Paula, “ I said softly as if my usual voice would scare her. Paula stopped what she was doing. She looked at me like she didn’t know who I was. “Its me, Miss Paula, Tracy,”
Her clothes were filthy. It was a shock to see. Paula had always been so meticulous. Her nails and her makeup were always perfect. But now, Paula was something different – she was no longer the polished, professional lady but a lost, heartbroken woman.

Beside her were all kinds of tools including a blow torch. Why would Paula need something like that? There was a thick sheet of metal and wood. Paula stared at me and began hammering against the metal causing it to fold into a triangular shape. “What are you doing,” I asked.
“Getting ready to kill my three little monkeys, that’s what,” Paula murmured. I laughed. Paula would never hurt a fly. I smiled at her as she raised her eyes to me. Gone was the sparkle I used to see in her brown eyes. Now there was something else and it made me suck in my breath. My heart pounded.
“Little girl, you need to go home now. Don’t come back here anymore.”
“Miss Paula, Please forgive me.”
She stared at me as she oiled a tool that looked like enormous pinchers.
I gulped. “Please, Miss Paula.”
“Forgive you?” she asked then grew silent perhaps remembering the days when I was Abby’s friend. Minutes passed then slowly she shook her head, “Too late for that, little girl. Now leave me be.”
Tears came down my face as I pleaded once more but Paula was raised her hand to silence me.

A few days later, I decided to try again. It took ever ounce of courage but I managed to walk to the back of her house and say Hello.
Paula sat cross-legged on the bare wooden planks. She was hammering another piece of metal. She used a huge mallet, humming and talking to herself. She never acknowledged me. I looked around. Her Rose garden was no longer beautiful. Weeds have engulfed them. They were turning brown. For Paula, her garden no longer existed. Nothing that was beautiful existed.

Four months after Abby’s death, she looked more like a bird of prey than human.
I went to her with outstretched hands, “Miss Paula,” I murmured. There was no emotion in her eyes when she said, “Don’t want to hear it. Go away.” She got up. She brushed dust off her clothes and went back into her house. She had dismissed me.

Paula had snapped but she didn’t snap completely. She was going to do what she had promised to do. Not long after Abby died, Paula began to stalk the women she blamed for Abby’s death. Wherever, Jennifer, Christine, and Bessie went, Paula was there. Paula would stand a few feet away and stare the women down. Both Christine and Bessie was a nervous wreck. Jennifer laughed at them, “She’s nuts. Just ignore her. What is she going to do to, anyway?”
At the food market where the three went shopping together, Bessie felt a presence. She looked up. Paula was staring at her like a hungry beast. Bessie went to the store manager and complained, “She’s following us. Everywhere I look there she is.” The manager approached Paula but Paula had no clue what the problem was. She introduced herself as an attorney and made it plain to the manager that she was the one being harassed and if it continued she would take action. The manager apologized, and told Bessie that Paula had every right to shop in his store just like she did.

A few days later, it happened again. The three women were jogging when they saw Paula sitting on a bench. When they jogged past, Paula got up and walked behind them with a pace that was fast enough to keep them in view. This time, Jennifer called 9-11 and told the dispatcher that they were being followed. The police were notified and confronted Paula. Once more, Paula pleaded innocent. “ What is this? I can’t walk in the park? She complained. “I’m not bothering them. I have no interest in them whatsoever.” The cops agreed.

Paula became more brazen. She followed the women when they went for walks. She pushed her cart into theirs at the food market. At games, she sat next to them. When they got up to move, she moved. Paula somehow learned Jennifer and Christine’s schedule at the YMCA, and worked out when they did, staring at them with unblinking eyes. The women become afraid. Whenever they ventured outside, Paula was there. They complained again to the police but the police blew them off with increasing annoyance.

Then the Saturday they were supposed to volunteer at a 5K run; Jennifer, Betsy and Christine disappeared. Hours passed. They were supposed to be at the run at 730 am. Their friends waited. An hour passed and they called their houses. Their husbands answered. Jennifer had picked up Betsy and Christine. They were seen in Jennifer’s car, waving goodbye as they drove away. Two hours had passed.
Anxiety gave way to alarm when the 5K finished and the awards were given out. The police were called. Then someone said that Paula hadn’t been seen all day either. That was unusual because Paula always where Jennifer, Betsy and Christine were.

Now the alarm turned into something worse- a feeling of terror, a feeling of foreboding. My mother was out on the street. A crowd had gathered. Their eyes fixated on the once lovely house of Paula’s. A cop sat in his car. He was on the radio asking for backup. Had someone hurt Jennifer, Betsy and Christine? Had someone hurt Paula? I felt a panic grow inside me. I guess everyone else felt the same. I could see a worried look in their eyes.
Two other patrol cars showed up. The first cop spoke to them. They got out of the car. They had rifles in their hands. A swat team came. Men in black uniforms carrying high-powered rifles crept up to the front door and along the sides of the house. This was serious. This was real. I began to cry.

Most of the community had converged across the street from Paula’s – out of harms’ way but close enough to see what was going on. Most of the women spoke in frantic whispers as their children stared at the police. Suddenly, the T’s ran up the front of the crowd sobbing. Their fathers were close behind them. They put their arms around their daughters and cried too. My mother told me to go back to the house. I obeyed. I walked into the front of the house and out the front door. I ran behind our row of homes and then snuck across the horse farm that backed up to Paula’s house. I could see the police taking frantically on their walkie talkies. I pushed the back door opened and ran in. I had to see. I wish I hadn’t done that.

In Paula’s kitchen, the floor was slippery with a huge amount of bright red blood. Then cops saw me and yelled at me to get out but the urge to see caused me to disobey. I ran upstairs. Paula had hung herself from the same ceiling fan that Abby had; her feet dangling inches from the floor. “oh no. oh no. Paula.” I screamed. My legs buckled under me and felt the lunch I had eaten make its way back up my throat.
A cop bounded after me but I ran down the other steps that lead into the kitchen and then down into the basement. I was half way into the basement when another cop grabbed by my arms and dragged back up the steps, but not before I saw the body parts- Feet, fingers and hands tossed on the floor like my little sister’s toys. Puddles of bright red blood were on the floor underneath the three torsos that were strung up like beef at a butcher shop. I screamed hysterically. There was a commotion in the Kitchen. Loud voices and shouts were so loud my ears were ringing. Jennifer, Bessie and Christine’s family had managed to push their way into the house. They rushed past me. I cried out, “Get back. Don’t go down.” But they didn’t listen to me anymore than I had listened to the cops. The families now saw the horror of what Paula had done. I heard their cries and screams and covered my ears. My mother was next to me pulling out of house. There were more shouts coming from the end of Paula’s yard. The shouts turned into screams, more terrible than the ones that came from the basement.

Jennifer, Betsy and Christine’s torsos hung high on hook in the basement. Their extremities were on the floor. When screams were heard outside, everyone rushed out. It was Theresa who had been screaming. She collapsed in the overgrown grass holding her chest like she had been stabbed. Her eyes were fixated on the small ridge that separated Paula’s house from the horse farm. I looked up. My neighbors and the police looked up. There on three separate pikes were the heads of Jennifer, and Betsy and Christine. All of us howled in unison like a choir in a cathedral.

Below the heads was a large banner that read- my 3 little monkeys.
Tabitha and Tamara screamed like Paula had months ago. They crumbled in sobbing heaps like Paula had. Their fathers picked them up and carried them away.

Under all the severed heads, thick red blood dripped. The heat was terrible and swarms of flies and gnats crawled across the heads; in and out of the openings of their severed parts.
Betsy’s eyes were gone. Nailed to her chin was a sign that read, “my little monkey, see no evil.” Christine was next. Her ears were gone. Her face was frozen in a scream. God only knows how she suffered in her last minutes. Nailed to her chin was a sign that read, “my little monkey, hear no evil.” Jennifer was the last and she was the most terrible sight of all. She had been the one who had tormented Paula the most with her nasty mouth. There was no nail driven into her chin because there was no chin. Her jaw, her mouth, tongue and teeth were all gone. Nailed into her forehead was a placard that read, my little money, SPEAK NO EVIL.

Nobody knows that I visit Paula and Abigail’s graves. If they did, they would go berserk. Not that I care what they think. I’m over what people think now.
Paula’s grave is right where it should be- next to her daughter’s. There is no tombstone. I’m doubt if there will ever be one but it doesn’t matter. I know where Paula’s body is.

I usually go there after dinner. I put flowers on their graves. Then I pray. I pray that I’ll see Paula and Abby in the afterlife. Maybe by then, Paula and Abby will find it in their hearts to forgive me. That’s what I believe anyway and believing that makes my days go easier.
Well, this is the end of my story.
I didn’t write it for enjoyment.
I wrote it so you could learn a few lessons.
Lessons I wished I had learned.

Too late for me.
But not for you.