All The Pretty Dead Girls

All The Pretty Dead Girls by John Manning Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: All The Pretty Dead Girls by John Manning Read Free Book Online
Authors: John Manning
didn’t reply.
    “Well,” Sue said, sitting up on the bed. “I guess I should just be glad. So what’s your major?”
    “Poli sci,” Malika told her.
    “That’s going to be my major, too.” Sue grinned. “Prep for law school.”
    Malika shrugged. “You and about half the girls here. Me, I want to go work for the United Nations, work in under-developed countries.”
    “Well, that’s noble of you. Where are you from, Malika?”
    “Tanzania.” The other girl’s chin went up proudly. “My parents both work for the United Nations, helping countries put together systems of law and develop their economies. It’s God’s work.”
    God’s work.
    Malika kept talking, but Sue wasn’t really listening. The phrase had kicked up some memories for her.
    “God’s work” was a favorite phrase of her grandfather’s, one he used so frequently, it had seemed to lose its meaning. The Barlows were regular churchgoers, devoted parishioners of Saint Matthew’s Lutheran Church on the Upper West Side. Sue never remembered ever missing a Sunday service. Even when they were on vacation, they managed to find a place to worship. “God’s work” to Granpa meant pretty much going to church, paying your taxes, voting in every election (for a Republican), and saying grace before meals. Sometimes, Gran would joke about it. “What’s Granpa doing?” Sue would ask, catching her grandfather nodding off in front of the television set. “He’s doing God’s work,” she’d tell her.
    “Did your parents drop you off?” Malika asked.
    Sue smiled. “No. I drove up from the city.”
    “New York?”
    Sue nodded. “My grandparents gave me a car. I’ll have it here on campus, so if you ever want to get away for a bit—”
    Malika smiled. “As if the deans would ever allow that. You’ll see, Sue. It’s pretty strict around here. They’ll let you keep the car—but they just won’t let you drive it.”
    An image of that tall brick wall encircling the campus flashed through Sue’s mind. “I’ll find ways to drive it,” Sue vowed.
    “So if your grandparents gave you a car, you must be a little rich girl,” Malika said, smiling. “What did Mommy and Daddy give you?”
    Sue felt numb—the automatic reaction she always felt whenever anyone asked about her parents.
    “My parents are dead,” she told Malika.
    The other girl’s face instantly became sympathetic. “I’m sorry, Sue. I didn’t—”
    “Of course you didn’t. How would you know?”
    She stood, moving from the bed to the window. She could see the tinting on the glass, but from the inside the windows didn’t seem nearly so black. They let in the sun, for which Sue was glad. She gazed down at the green campus, the fountain bubbling in the center of the yard, watching little groups of girls moving across the grass.
    “My parents died in a car accident when I was very young,” Sue told her roommate. “I don’t remember them at all. But my mother went to school here. I suppose that’s the biggest reason why my grandparents sent me here as well.”
    “Do you have brothers and sisters?” Malika asked.
    Sue shook her head. “Just Gran and Granpa. Only family I have.”
    “I can’t imagine. I have three brothers and two sisters and I grew up with cousins and aunts and uncles…” Malika’s voice faded away as she seemed to catch some sadness in Sue’s eyes.
    “Not me. My mother was also an only child, so there are no cousins.”
    “What about your father?”
    “I don’t know. My grandparents rarely speak of him.”
    But of her mother, there was plenty of evidence. Given that she had been Gran and Granpa’s only child, she was pretty much enshrined in their apartment on Central Park West. Pictures of their darling Mariclare were everywhere. In one room were photos of Mariclare as a young girl. In another, dozens of snapshots captured her graduation from high school. There were pictures of her on beaches and in boats, in convertible cars and at the

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