Mary Mary Quite Contrary
It was a cold, rainy day towards the beginning of November. The year was 1987, and she was just a young girl. Her parents had just died in a car crash; her grandfather would be picking her and her baby brother up at the Sussex train station. They were being taken there by their neighbor.
Her name was Mary Whelps, and her 10 month old brother was Charles. She was young, as I said before, only 7 years old, and she had spent all of her life up until then completely isolated from the world. She had never been to school, never met another child her age. The only people she knew were her parents and the neighbor, Ms. Gardner, who was a widow. The train ride was long and uninteresting; the entire time Mary never moved or said a word. She just stared out of the window at the dismal grey landscape. When they arrived her grandfather instantly recognized them from countless photos sent by her father; her long, sandy brown hair and grey-green eyes, his to match. She complacently followed him to the Volkswagen, and once again was silent on the trip to the small cottage where her grandparents lived.
On the ride she noted the wrinkles made by smiles around her grandfathers now saddened blue eyes. He had a kind face, and grey hair which showed only a small bit of the brown it used to be. They soon arrived at the house, and were greeted warmly by her father's mother. Mrs. Whelps was originally from the States, and had an American accent. She had long hair, once black, pulled back into a pony-tail, and deep emerald eyes. She was also very kindhearted, so she hated seeing Mary so sad, and sad she was. She had always been a chatty little girl, but the tragic death of her parents had silenced her.
"Mary, would you like to see your new room? I've put lots of toys in there, maybe you'll like them." She asked kindly. The girl only nodded her head; it was obvious she didn't care.
She let her grandmother take her by the hand and lead her down the hall. They turned into the last room on the right and entered. The room was plain, with cream coloured walls, and plain white curtains with a bit of frill on the bottom. The white, wrought-iron bed had a pale yellow quilt on it, as well as matching lace pillows. There was a dollhouse, a small table with a miniature tea set, and a closet. In the closet was a toy chest, filled to the brim with dolls and stuffed animals and other fun little knick-knacks. The girl walked over without much enthusiasm, and picked out a spin top, which she set on the table. Her grandmother perceived she wanted to be alone, so she left to help with the baby.
Mary wandered around the room, until she found herself at the closet once again. She looked up, and noticed for the first time there was a shelf. She dragged a chair over from her table into the closet, and clambered up. She extended her arm onto the shelf, and her hand brushed a hard something wrapped in cloth. When she pulled it down, she discovered a porcelain doll in her hands.
The doll had light brown hair cut so short that it stuck up at odd angles. Its face was painted with gold triangle around the eyes, and its lips were a chipped red. It was wearing a pink jumpsuit, with a large mesh collar. Mary immediately liked it, and decided it didn't look half bad if she pulled the elastic collar over its hair.
"I think I will call you Tabitha." These were the first words Mary had spoken since she was told her parents were gone. She cradled the rather ugly doll in her arms, quite unsure of why she liked it so much.
All of a sudden its head turned and its gold eyes moved to her face. Mary's breath stopped for an instant, until it spoke. Even though its voice was deep and raspy, it was comforting.
"I suppose that is a good name, but Mary, you are sad. You need a friend. Let me be your friend. I can help you, Mary. I can make you happy. I can make wonderful things happen; you can be with your parents again."
"Really? How? Tell me! Please!" Mary begged.
"Well, how about we start simple."
Mrs. Whelps took the baby from her husband, and sat down in the living room. He had started to cry, so she sang to him and started to rock. When she did this, he quieted, and watched her with a tired look on his face. She could tell he was starting to drift. It would only be a matter of minutes before he was asleep.
"Go into the living room. There is something for you to learn, something that your grandmother can teach you that I cannot." Tabitha instructed to Mary. Mary nodded her head. "Oh, and it's best that you don't mention me or what I can do to your grandparents. They wouldn't believe you anyway." Mary nodded again, and obeyed.
The baby was nearly asleep when Mrs. Whelps noticed that Mary was standing in the doorway watching. She was clutching a doll that she couldn't recognize, and had a curious look on her face.
"What is that song called? Do you know more?" she persisted.
"It's a lullaby," Mrs. Whelps answered, "it's called rock-a-bye baby."
"Do you know other songs like that?"
"Sure, I know plenty of lullabies and nursery rhymes. Didn't your mother ever teach you any?"
"Well, Charlie is almost asleep. How about I teach you a few once I put him to bed?" she offered. Mary only nodded, but she seemed eager.
It wasn't long before the baby was in his crib, and Mrs. Whelps sat on the living room floor with her granddaughter. Mary still held on to the doll, but she seemed happier, more relaxed. Mrs. Whelps still couldn't remember ever seeing the doll before, but Mary was happy, so she didn't worry about it.
"So, how about I teach you an easy one first? Rain rain go away?"
"Sure. I guess it makes sense, it looks like it's going to rain for a week here." Mary said, and the two started laughing. Mrs. Whelps noticed when Mary set her doll aside on the coffee table, and then they got started.
By the time Mary went to sleep, with the doll tucked under her arm, she had learned almost every nursery rhyme there was. As she fell asleep, she heard Tabitha whisper, "Very good. That is very good."