If only I'd known…

Never in her life had May felt so guilty. If she'd only known what the girl she'd loathed since 1st grade was going through, May would have treated her better. She and Junie B. Jones had been rivals since the 1st day of 1st grade. Now she was dead. Her mom hadn't always been violent. It all started when her dad left. Junie had been her mom's punching bag, one way her mom vented her anger. That and whiskey. Now she was dead. She was only five. May wanted to rip out her heart, her innards, everything that was screaming inside her. Tears fell from her brown eyes onto her black, velvety knee length dress. If I'm going to tell this story right, I'd better go back to 3 weeks ago. When the bruises started appearing…

Somebody cries in the middle of the night, the neighbors hear but they turn out the light. A fragile soul caught in the hands of fate. When morning comes it will be to late…

Junie b. Jones had always been different. But it was the bruises that made her even more different. "How did you get those bruises Junie Jones?" May teased. "It's none of your business, May" Junie taunted back. "And it's junie B. B., B., B., B., and B." May was about to retort, but the look on Junie's face told her otherwise, and she thought better of it. She kept coming to school with bruises, and each day they were bigger and more purple that the previous day. Then, 2 weeks later, she wasn't at school. She wasn't at school for the next week. Her classmates were starting to get worried. Then, on Friday of that same week, Mr. Scary, her teacher, came into the room looking unusually somber. May become conscious it had something to do with Junie. After the class had quieted down, he started to speak. His voice sounded on the verge of cracking. This was his announcement: "class, I'm afraid I have some sad news. You might be worried about Junie B. Jones. Well, I am sorry to say that last week, she was killed. Now your parents might not want me to tell you this, and I expect some to be completely appalled that I have, but I think that you have the right to know how she died, and that keeping you in the dark would be an insult to her memory. She was killed by her own mother's hands. She was one of the many victims of child abuse. For those of you who don't know what it is, it's the intentional striking of a kid. Her funeral will be held on Sunday the 13th. That's next week Sunday. Mark your calendars and come to her funeral. That is all" he then told them to work on page 45 in their math workbooks. May felt shaken. She had been so mean to Junie, and now she was dead. She couldn't concentrate on her math. As she looked around, she noticed that many of her friends were shaking with tears. Herb, lennie, hose, and Lucille were all sobbing uncontrollably. The 13th came and went.

A statue stands in a shaded place, an angel girl with an upturned face. Her name is written on a polished rock. A broken heart that the world forgot.

May didn't go to Junie's funeral. She didn't feel she earned the right to say goodbye. Even now, 25 years later, may is teaching her kids not to be mean to someone just because there different. Junie B. taught her, the hard way, that life is fragile, and should be treated with respect. Because, like Junie, you can be broken, like a Concrete Angel.