by Molly Glassey
As the young girl fell, Mary Ann watched the mother. She was mourning before her daughter had hit the ground. A man – her brother – was quick to react, saving her head from a coconut clunk with the concrete, and easing her body down like a porcelain doll.
The mother screamed in a language that matched her skin, and clashed with the passing shoppers in in the mall. Her daughter was just as tan, with glasses, and a neat pony. Mary Ann could tell it was a tightly band-bound do – the girls head wouldn’t lay flat with the rest of her body, instead it lopped to a side without the help of her brother. One hand on each cheek, he clasped, while his mother clung to the prayers she was screaming. They couldn’t have been anything but holy pleas – they drained the air her daughter had stopped breathing.
She was dead, and Mary Ann knew. The leaves were brown, the sky was grey, but the girl had stopped dreaming. Every part of her was limp – almost floppy. Her legs were at ease, her arms where comfortable and her mouth was shut, shut down. If she’d had a seizure there’d be movement. If she’d simply fallen and been knocked out there’d be some figure, some rigidness, some physical perseverance. This was the work of an aneurism, a heart treamor or hypertropic cardiosomething – a little pop somewhere that made her being a body.
Some men with hands of shopping bags walked over in a pace that wasn’t as hurried as Mary Ann expected, but they gathered none the less. Together they lifted the girl onto a bench that was usually habited my long haired loiterers and their short haired girlfriends. The bench was long, so some stayed. Others took the opportunity to top up their drinks at Hungry Jacks.
One of the man’s wives started to make a phone call. She looked around, saw someone doing the same, met eyes with her, and both hung up at the same time. A third woman was already being directed to ‘ambulance’.
Mary Ann took out her ear phones, and slowed her pace, as most other shopping families did the same. She was hungry, and wasn’t feeling heroic. The onus was on the mother to scream, the brother to hold her face, the loiters to loiter, the men to carry, and the wives to make phone calls, share concerned glances, and sponge the substance of the situation. She could afford to stare and stride on.
The ambulance would come, the paramedic would check for vitals, while another would tell the mother to step back from her daughter, and the brother would finally take a moment to grasp the gravity of the situation. The men would be congratulated by their wives with public kisses and bedroom promises. The loiters would Tumblr a haiku of the event, and the girls body would be taken away to the Royal for more vigorous treatment, then an eventual post mortem.
Mary Ann’s role was to mask concern, then trade it for the concern of herself. Would watching death make her a poet? A hero? Would she lay in bed guilt ridden for not rushing over, giving the mother a hug to hold, and being a face of reassurance. Would she tell her psych this 10 years from now, have difficulty loving her own children, and would this have any effect on the lithium levels in her brain.
She walked on out of sight, and put her earphones back in. The song had skipped to something far more upbeat, and before she had time to remember how quickly the girl fell, she’d forgotten to decide if her fall mattered at all.