It was a crisp January day when my cousin Sam came to visit with his family. Sam lived near Boston, so we didn’t see each other very often. Sam and his wife Stacy have two little girls named Emily and Abby. I had recently graduated college, which should tell you two things;
1) I had the ego to assume that a piece of paper made me intellectually superior to anyone who did not have one.
2) I lived with my parents.
Yes, I was young and confident. I strutted around my parents home like I was king shit, ready to take on anyone who thought they knew more about world history than me. This of course is before I realized how useless a history degree actually is. Sure it’s great to get into grad school, but if you have no desire to further your academic career it’s about as useful as a letter of recommendation from your high school janitor.
Four years can do a lot to a person. By the time I met her again, she had turned into a devious trickster who knew a lot more than she let on. Her smile was gone, as was her love for people in general. She had a hint of darkness in her eyes, as if she had already lived through her life once, and was being doomed to repeat it. Basically, Emily had become as bitter a human being as I had, the difference was that she was only six years old.
That, my friends, gave her the advantage.
They arrived really late, and I had stayed up to greet them. When they came in, Abby was asleep, Sam and Stacy were very tired, but Emily was surprisingly alert. I approached her as she carried her pink Little Mermaid bag through the door.
“Hey Emily,” I said with a huge smile, “Do you remember me? I’m you’re Cousin Andrew.”
Emily responded with stone silence. I assumed her memory had not developed to the point of being able to record memories that early in life, and took it with a grain of salt.
I patted her on the head and tussled her hair, “You came to my graduation party. It’s okay, it’s been a while…I understand why you don’t remember me.”
“Oh, I remember you just fine,” she said with what can only be described as utter contempt in her voice. She passed right by me, and began to head down the hall to the stairs.
“We’re staying in your room aren’t we?” she asked. Since I had the second biggest bed in the house, I had offered to sleep on the couch for the duration of their stay so that their whole family could bunk in my room.
“Yeah, that’s right,” I said approvingly, “You guys get the best room in the house.”
Emily walked up the stairs, only looking back at me to say, “Sucks to be you then.”
I could do nothing but stand there in shocked silence. Little Emily Chevalier, no older than six, had just insulted me. I don’t put up with that kind of talk from men twice my size, why would I take shit from a child with a Little Mermaid backpack? I shook it off and headed to bed, hoping this would be an isolated incident.
Over the course of the next two days Emily made it her personal mission to make me her bitch whenever possible. When no one else was in ear shot, she would make some smart ass offense to put me in my place. I don’t remember most of the insults; to be honest they were pretty tame. Things like “you have a big head,” and “you have poop breath”. Pretty innocent in nature, but when they came from her, I felt a part of my soul die. What really bothered me though was how aware she was of WHEN and HOW she could get away with it. She knew I wasn’t going to tattle on her. I was a grown man, what grown man is going to tell on a six year old for making fun of his breath? She also knew that once anyone was out of ear shot she could deliver the intended blow without any repercussion, and used this to her full advantage.
Now the first few times she did it I was able to let it roll of my back without any problem. Eventually I had enough, and we soon began a battle of insults. I didn’t say anything malicious, I was just playing the game by the rules she had established when she delivered that first insult. I felt I was in the right to defend my honor, even if no one else agreed. Unfortunately, because she had crafted the timing of her attacks so well, I was usually the one who came across like an asshole for picking on a little girl.
The worst part of it for me though was that I was the only one who saw it. To everyone else she played the “innocent little girl” part so well, no one ever thought she was capable of such atrocities. But, when it was just her and I alone, her smile would disappear and she would look at me with the eyes of a evil mastermind. When I tried to tell people how twisted she actually was, I was dismissed with looks of disgust and contempt. I felt like Elijah Wood in The Good Son; all I was trying to do was warn them of the monster before she could turn her hatred for the world toward someone else.
It all culminated on the last day of their visit. I had taken a new defensive strategy, and decided not to react to her attacks. I believed that her power came from the acknowledgement of her insults, and if I took that away she would eventually stop, making me the victor. After several attempts at trying to get me to spar with her, Emily eventually stopped. I could tell this angered her by the way she glared at me from across the room, and this made the victory all that much greater. I had beaten her. I had proven my own self worth and decided to reward myself on a job well done with a glass of chocolate milk.
As I stood in the kitchen alone mixing my chocolate prize, I noticed a small figure appear in the doorway. I turned and saw Emily standing there with the biggest smile you’d ever see. Immediately I went into a defensive position, ready for her verbal barrage of insults. She opened her mouth ready to unleash what I was sure was going to be the Mecca of all slurs,
“Will you make me some chocolate milk too?”
I was surprised, but eager to mend our relationship. I began mixing two glasses of chocolate milk, all the while having the first pleasant conversation ever with my little cousin.
“I hope we keep coming back, I like it here. Maybe I’ll bring my friends with me,” she said as she danced around the table.
“Well that’s fine, just don’t bring any boyfriends here,” I said jokingly, “We don’t want their kind around.”
She looked at me with a puzzled look on her face, “But, what if I don’t like boys? What if I like girls?”
Forgetting that the person I was talking to was six my immediate reaction was to respond with the most honest answer possible. “Well I suppose if you like girls, that would make you a…”
At that moment my mother and Sam walked through the kitchen door and heard only the last word of the sentence that escaped my mouth,
Sam, (who is usually cool about these things) and my mother, (who is never cool about anything) were both enraged. Thinking I was using the word as an insult, they both went off on me. I tried to clarify myself, explaining that they missed the context, but they wouldn’t hear of it. In their mind that was it; I was officially the guy who called a little girl a lesbian.
I looked at Emily, and she had the biggest smile I had ever seen. Only, this wasn’t the smile I had seen her fake on so many occasions with everyone else, nor was it the smile she used to dupe me…this was a smile of accomplishment. She did it…she beat me. But, she didn’t just beat me, she outsmarted me.
A six year old outsmarted me.
That was the day king shit died. I had been usurped by a cocky, malicious, evil little girl. It’s been over a year since that happened, and still to this day I am reminded about that event by my family at almost every gathering we have. When I’m around the other little kids my mother feels it necessary to remind me not to call them lesbians. Every once in a while Sam will bring it up for no apparent reason other than to mock me.
I won’t even display my degree at my own home, because I feel as if I don’t deserve it. But, in the end,I’m glad for the experience. I’m glad because I now know what we are all up against. This little girl, this Lex Luthor caliber mastermind will one day grow to be a woman, and that woman will no doubt use her powers of manipulation and timing to secure herself in a position of power. Hopefully by then I’ll be able to have some sort of counter for her attacks. Until then, enjoy your nightmares world, I pray for us all.