There are memories I have come to possess from my childhood that make no sense. Some of them are memories of a girl that has shown no signs of ever even existing. Her name was Beatrice, and neither my parents, nor anyone else have any clue who she is, or was. While I can’t quite remember what grade “Beatrice” met me in, I do know it was before third grade.
How do I know this? Well, when I was in third grade my parents moved from Kansas to Tulsa. I knew the girl before the move, that much I know. Beatrice was taller than me, but not by much. She had blonde hair always tied with a ribbon in her hair, and purple glasses. I remember that much because when I was a child she asked me to break her glasses because she hated them. When I told her no, she angrily walked away from me on the playground behind my school.
If you’re thinking she was some kind of child ghost, I can tell you now, she most certainly was not. We visited each other's houses many times, at least in my head that’s how it played out. I’ve always been told that my memory of my childhood isn’t that great, and I know that to be true. My freshman year of college I can’t remember the names of any of my teachers until high school, and any child past eighth grade who wasn’t my friend or “enemy” is forgotten to me as well, but that is not important.
What is important though, is Beatrice. For a while she sat in my mind along with all of the other vaguely remembered friends I had that I no longer shared contact with. I also feel like noting now that my mother’s best friend, Veronica, lived in Kansas City long after we moved. Her daughter was my age and named Sommer. Though Sommer and I met first, her mother and mine soon became friends. I have only a few memories of Sommer, Beatrice, and I playing.
All of this came to my attention earlier this year. It was my first year in college, and I was to be living in a dorm. Both of my parents came to help me move in, and we found a photo album from when I was younger. Many tears were shed by all as we looked through my childhood memories, but I noticed something looking at the pictures of my friends especially. Beatrice was nowhere. None of them. There were photos of around the time I must have known her where I was standing or playing with children I had no recollection of, but none of the girl I remembered.
I asked my parents about her, and they froze. My dad looked at my mom, and then all four of their eyes were on me, shocked almost.
“I don’t know who you’re talking about,” my mother replied.
“You mean your imaginary friend?” my father asked in a rather odd voice. I knew Beatrice wasn’t imaginary, I knew she was real. Even so, I could tell she wasn’t something my parents wanted to talk about, so I agreed that must have been it and forgot about it.
The stress of college life soon got to me and I forgot all about Beatrice until winter vacation. Since vacation only lasted a week, my house was a three day drive away, and I couldn’t afford a plane ticket, I decided instead to visit Sommer at her parents’ house, which was only around a day’s drive away. Sommer's parents had divorced before she met me, and she lived with her dad. He was a businessman and would be away for five of the seven days of vacation, so we’d be in the house alone. That didn’t bother us, though. The first night we were together we stayed up all night watching horror movies, and the next morning after drinking three cups of coffee, I brought up Beatrice while the two of us sat at her kitchen counter.
“Do you remember a girl named Beatrice?”
“Beatrice? What kind of a name is that?” Sommer laughed.
"I’m being serious. Do you remember a girl named Beatrice? Blonde hair, purple glasses... Ringing any bells?” Sommer just shook her head, and I was on the verge of a possible panic attack. For as long as I can remember I’ve had really bad anxiety, and only after I’d gotten to Sommer’s house had I realized I forgot my anxiety pills.
“But I know where we can find her.” Sommer jumped up from the table and ran to her room. I followed, and she pulled a stack of every yearbook she’d ever gotten out from her closet. Together, the two of us sat on her pink covered bed and flipped through the books, looking for Beatrice. We found her easily, and she had been in my class in first grade. We found her in kindergarten in a different class than both of us, but she wasn’t anywhere in the book where we were in second grade.
“Maybe she moved?” Sommer guessed, but my mixed curiosity, odd parental reaction, lack of sleep, and horror movie views led me to a completely different conclusion.
“No. She’s dead.” It was almost a joke, but not quite. “We have her last name, let’s go look her up.”
Sommer agreed and grabbed her laptop. We Googled Beatrice’s name, and went to the news section.
Eight Year Old Girl Killed in a Fire Works Accident the Fourth of July
I felt a feeling of pure dread looking at the headline to the old news story as Sommer clicked the link to open it. Beatrice had apparently been at a friend’s house when a small firework lost control and burst in her face. She suffered massive burns and went into a coma, only to die around a week later. I immediately got off of the bed and rushed back into the kitchen where I’d left my cellphone. I heard Sommer yell after me, but I didn’t care.
It was me, wasn’t it? It was all I could think as I called my house. I wasn’t sure why, but I had a feeling that I had killed her. That was why my parents didn’t talk about her, I had killed her! Even so, I didn’t want my wild thoughts to be true.
“Hello? Katherine?” It was my mom.
"Mom.” I was frantic, almost in tears. “I know what happened to her mom, I know.” I sat down in a kitchen chair next to Sommer, who had walked in and sat down. She whispered for me to put it on speaker, she’d been friends with Beatrice too after all, so I did.
“What happened to who?” she asked. Sommer could see I was about to cry, and answered for me. I was in that place where you’re not quite in tears, but speaking would put you in tears.
"Hi, Katherine’s mom, it’s Sommer. She’s talking about Beatrice.” I nodded, even though I knew my mother couldn’t see it. She was silent for a while, before handing off to my dad, apparently.
“Katherine what is it? You mother’s-”
“Beatrice, Dad,” I said quietly. “It’s about Beatrice.”
“Oh.” He was silent for a while.
“It was me, Dad, wasn’t it? If it was, please tell me.” My voice cracked, I was officially crying. I wiped my eyes before saying, “I killed her.”
“It…it wasn’t your fault, Kathy.” He told Sommer and me how it had happened, but I no longer needed it. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I found my lost memory, the missing piece.
"Be careful, okay?” my father said, handing me the fire work. It wasn’t a real fire work, it was one of the little store bought ones that aren’t quite fireworks or as dangerous. He was also handing it to me un-lit. I got to place it on our side walk, and then he’d light it, but I got to pick where it went. I was so happy. I chose a spot, but Beatrice didn’t like it. I ignored her complaints and said she could pick where the next one would go. My father walked and lit it, but right after doing so my mother called him from the house saying she needed help in the kitchen. He reminded both of us not to touch it, but as soon as he left Beatrice did just that.
“It goes over here.” I warned her not to touch the firework, but she didn’t listen, and picked it up. It was facing her head, and went off. Beatrice let out a high pitched scream and fell to the ground. I yelled for dad, and he, my mother, and Beatrice’s parents all came running out of my house. All of the parents started to freak out and I began crying. Her parents yelled at me saying it was my fault while my mom called 911. My dad held me close so that I wouldn’t see her face, but I did when the paramedics came. It didn’t look human. All discolored, lots of it was missing and there was blood everywhere.
It was a Fourth of July party, and my family had invited Beatrice’s and Sommer’s family to come. Sommer had been visiting a relative, so only Beatrice’s family came. My parents moved away from Kansas City and pretended Beatrice wasn’t real because I forgot about the incident due to the shock and they didn’t want me to remember her. Specifically, her mangled dead face, but I do now. Sommer apparently didn’t remember her very well because they never got along, she only knew her because of me.
Now at least I know I’m not crazy, but I don’t think I’ll be forgetting that face ever again.