Today two people came by the house asking me about my childhood. They asked about the street I grew up on, the school I attended for middle school, and even they asked about my prom date. I shut us up in the study so the kids couldn’t interrupt us or overhear the conversation. Reggie gave me a funny look when the man and woman arrived but he was full of so many questions afterwards that I wasn’t sure what to do.
It was so long ago that I pretended I didn’t remember much about my life 25-35 years ago. Sure I couldn’t deny knowing Chad. I mean there’s proof all over the yearbook—it’s chockablock with photos of us together doing mundane things such as lunch and slow danced together. I’m sure some of our classmates would not remember us back so long ago but we weren’t unpopular. A large amount of our peers would remember. They would remember how we abruptly ended our relationship too.
In actuality I recall in great detail the house I grew up in and how I had been torn from it my senior year. I can recreate the layout with my eyes closed. I can almost smell the blossoms of the dogwood trees in spring and the allergies they caused my mom. The splashing, the splashing delight of children during summer rain in the puddles and I do so miss the blades of grass on my bare feet.
These are not the things they really wanted to know about. No, not in the least, because after the mundane questions they wanted to know about what made Chad tick. “Mrs. Haberdasher, had he ever acted strangely?” What high school kid didn’t act strangely, I asked them and mentioned they could call me Simone. The man caught a glance at a family picture and veered off course. Oh wow, how long have I been Mrs. Haberdasher? It seems as if only yesterday and yet a million years ago that Reggie and I have been intertwined. In fact the man and woman even asked when I met Reggie. I said that it had been twenty years of struggles against the world, in a fanciful way. People who admire longevity and commitment admire when those who enjoy it can make light of it. It makes it so much more obtainable that way. Sometimes I wonder if my life even began prior to Reggie. That answer is so evident on a day like today, with two strangers at my door step asking about Chad.
I was beautiful back then but I didn’t know it. I think about how I wanted to change my nose, my lips, even my eye color. How stupid I had been! I was simply young though and didn’t really understand how time takes even the things we don’t like away. And that’s when we realize it wasn’t so bad after all.
Chad loved me, at least he told me so almost every day. He would do almost anything for me. He asked constantly. “Simone, I want to move mountains for you. What do you want me to do to make your life better?” I gave silly answers, you know, the hyperbole that the young embrace. Every zit ruins life. Every bad grade causes such grief. Rules only stifled creativity. Most teachers are out to get you.
“Chad could be moody but I wouldn’t say it was out of the norm.” I then asked them why so many questions about me and my life. They confessed that Chad (though they used his last name) had been brought to their attention. These are fancy words for he had done something wrong, something heinous. When they continued it became apparent that Chad had done many things wrong. At this point I swallowed. I couldn’t help it. It was the ominousness with which they spoke. I asked for more details but they would not tell me any. They gave me Law and Order excuses like “ongoing investigation.”
We spoke for a few more minutes and I apologized I could not be more help. I wanted to throw them out of my house. I didn’t want to be asked about Chad again or that time before I moved. The rumors that summer… I hadn’t listened to them because I could not. Eventually those two left. That meant I had to say something to Reggie. I managed to give him the lines the two had given me.
So here I am, writing down my thoughts because I can’t say them aloud. That’s what got me in trouble in the first place, speaking, voicing my opinions. I had told him that Mrs. Buchannan had given me a grade I didn’t deserve. She had been riding me the entire semester. I didn’t deserve it. My voice needed to be heard.
I stopped caring about all of that when the school closed for a week. They sent counselors into the school when they reopened. Well, that’s what I had been told. I never went back. I had to finish up my junior year after the few months I spent in the “sanatorium.” It had only been hyperbole. I hadn’t wanted any of it.
~Raging and quivering female mass of hormones and tosser of Dark Side Cookies™ (trade marked by Etoile)