another one of them
the name of her wont come to me right now and i suppose, when i think of it, that this is fitting. i knew her when i went to catholic school in second grade. we all had to wear uniforms that the school sold us. the boys wore light blue shirts with navy blue pants and they came folded and wrapped in plastic. the girls wore pleated plaid skirts and the same light blue shirts as we did. there was an insignia on the breast pocket and i would finger it absentmindedly while thinking of the things you think of at age seven. toys on a saturday out of earshot of my grandparents. sugar cereals getting soggy in sugar milk. weeds growing up from cracks in the sidewalk. all the etc's of innocence and youth.
i noticed her one afternoon as we all filed in line to go back into class after recess. she had light brown skin and straight hair pulled back in a pony tail that revealed a face sweeter than all the sugar cereals in a summer of saturdays. she had legs that struck up from her socks like long sticks of cinnamon. and arms that were smooth and thin and seemed to absorb all the sunlight. at least thats how i remember her, but some memories are like melodies you cant place but just run through your head. this is how the past becomes legend. how legend becomes myth.
i spoke to her. trying to flirt before i knew what flirting was. i made jokes and poked fun of how she pulled her socks so far up. i smiled at her a lot and tried to get her to smile back. at recess i would lurk around her and her friend and make a fool of myself in attempts to get her to laugh. id get crushed under her reactions. when she wouldnt look id get disappointed. when she would laugh id feel the day worth every breath.
i began to walk her home, it was only slightly out of my way. her towering apartment building only a few blocks from the curvy brick street i lived down. i would dance around her nervously, like a curious dragonfly around the foliage of a lake. she would smirk and watch me dance and with her large eyes follow me slyly. i never stopped moving or speaking for fear that in the space between she would realize who she was with and ask herself why she was with them. we never held hands and we never hugged, we never let our skin touch. i just tried to make her laugh and she smiled and giggled and said very little back.
on a day that followed a snow storm, when the streets were a light blanket of snow, i walked her home again. it had been a few weeks and we had fallen into the habit. she would sometimes even wait for me after school, but i was rarely late to the exit gates and usually stood there waiting for her. where she lived was a straight walk down the street the led from the schools entrance. if you stood in the right place at the right time you could see her towers cast its looming shadow towards the playground.
that day, midway to her house, i realized i had forgotten my backpack on a bench. i asked her to go back with me but she refused, saying her parents wanted her home right after school and if she was late even a little she would get into trouble. i didnt ask her twice because i didnt want her to refuse me again. it was cold and evening was approaching fast so i just said goodbye and ran back alone.
i got to the corner across the street from the entrance and looked both ways before i crossed. i dont know how i missed it, perhaps i wasnt thinking. perhaps i was looking as a routine but not really paying attention to what i looked at. my mind swam in the colors of her. all i could think of was the following day after school and walking her home and making her smile. even the sound of tires screeching on the pavement didnt pull me from my trance. even the car horn blaring was a distant alarm never meant for me.
i didnt feel it hit me but i remember flying through the air and the grey sky above me whooshing by in a dreary blur. i remember lying there crying and i remember a woman looking over me and she looked like she was crying too, which made me cry even harder. i dont remember the pain but i remember not wanting to move. the commotion of concern. the screams for an ambulance.
i was in the hospital overnight as the doctors ran test. they said i had a few bad bruises and a couple minor fractures but that i was a strong kid and would be ok. they said i should be more careful. they said i was lucky.
the day after i returned from the hospital i stayed home from school again. i didnt want to but my grandmother thought it was best. one of the kids from my class brought me a card all the kids had made telling me to get better and wishing me the best. i searched for her name to see what she had written but it must not have been much, because i cant remember if she even signed the card now.
when i got back to school some kids made a fuss but most didnt. children are self absorbed creatures that dont know the meaning of worry until they have experienced significant loss. we were too young to have such unfortunate wisdom in us yet. she was distant but i pretended not to notice. after school i lurked behind but didnt wait at the gates. i could see as she met another guy and as he began walking her in the direction of her home. i could see as he danced around her and as she followed him slyly with her eyes. i could see his backpack was loose and he kept shrugging it up onto his shoulders.