The next morning, I returned Miss Mabel’s little plate and reluctantly accepted the Coca Cola she offered. I wanted to get right down to business and find out as much as I could about Katy. I really wanted to know if Miss Mabel knew why Katy never signed her art.
Miss Mabel took the lead and asked me if I would tell her what Katy had written in her notes.
I said “well, she prayed that her granny wouldn’t die.” I kind of giggled when I said “she prayed about not going to Hell because she had drowned a worm. She prayed that God would make her a better little girl and she asked Him to turn her into a horse so she could run away.”
Miss Mabel rolled her chair over to the window in front of her house and sat silently for a few seconds. Then she said “Katy used to stand and look out that little window in the back of the house. She looked like a prisoner longing for freedom…or a pardon.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
Miss Mabel’s voice was pensive as she said “sit down and get comfortable child, while I tell you a story.”
This is the story as told to me by Miss Mabel:
“Katy’s daddy was a vile, vicious drunk who almost beat that poor child to death. Everybody in the neighborhood knew what was going on. Everybody in the neighborhood heard her screams and pleas for mercy. Everybody in the neighborhood saw her bruised and broken little body.”
She leaned forward and said “now I know you’re going to want to know why nobody did anything, but back in those days you minded your own business. You closed your eyes and your ears and your windows and shut your doors to drown out the cries for help.”
She went on to say “she prayed for her granny because sometimes, her granny was able to walk up the street and rescue her but one day, her granny died and her rescuer was gone.”
I was more or less talking to myself when I said “that must have been why she wrote God and told Him she hated Him.” Miss Mabel didn’t seem shocked about that note and said Katy was devastated when she lost her granny.
I asked why Katy’s mother hadn’t tried to help her. Miss Mabel said she thought her mother was scared of her father or maybe she had his same mindset.
I asked what she meant and she continued.
“Katy was an only child and her daddy made it clear that he wanted a son. He would yell at her and say the most awful, hateful things you ever heard. I watched him throw her halfway across the yard once because he caught her trying to climb a tree.” He screamed “boys climb trees and you’re not a boy!”
She said “Katy liked to climb out onto the roof and just sit there.” I told her that one of the notes was telling God that she had climbed out on the roof and begged Him not to tell her daddy because he would whip her.”
I asked Miss Mabel if she knew how Katy had managed to get on the roof. She said “she climbed out a little window in the front of the house.”
I told her that I found notes all around that little window and I saw that it had been nailed shut.
Miss Mabel said “yes. Her daddy came home for lunch one day and caught her. He climbed up there and dragged her down. The whole time, Katy was screaming ‘don’t whip me daddy. Please don’t whip me daddy’. When he got her down, he grabbed that little girl’s arm and snapped it in half. That was the day he nailed the window shut.”
She said “it wasn’t long after that day, we heard him screaming in a drunken rage, ‘I wanted a son to carry on my legacy and my name. You are nothing. You are nobody. You are worthless. Your name is worthless. You can’t carry on my legacy or my name because your name is worthless’.”
Miss Mabel had tears in her eyes as she continued. “I don’t know this for sure but I really believe the reason Katy never signed her work was because she thought her name was worthless.”
To be continued______________________