Writing Class, Part 124

Our writing prompt for last night was to think of a photograph in our heads of someone from our life. We were told that we could close our eyes to think about it. I didn't. Our teacher said that we should write it directly to the person, using the "you" pronoun. She also suggested we start with "In this one, you are..." For some reason, I thought of yearbook photos:

Brokol, Penny. In this one, you are a junior. You have the same badly feathered hair as all the rest of us girls from 1986 and also a bad perm that your mother gave you one hot Sunday afternoon. You are smiling crookedly and wearing a striped shirt that falls just off your shoulders. You are trying to be a little sexy, but that's not what you're know for. You are popular for being on the Varsity tennis team, for being the president of your class, for being sweet. You are pretty in an ordinary, non-interesting way, but we are threatened none the less, my best friend, Jen and I because two of the boys we like seem to have crushes on you. In the small black and white photo, one of your eyes is slightly squinted, as though you're winking. Shannon says it looks like someone has just threatened to throw a blueberry pie at your face. From then on, we refer to you as "Pie in the Eye" though never within your hearing. Despite everything, we want you to like us.

You aren't in the next yearbook because some time over the summer before our senior year, you run out in the rain to get the mail, barefoot, and touch the metal side just as a bolt of lightning strikes the box. You fall on the driveway, your mind wiped clean of everything you have learned over the past 16 years. You will have to start from the beginning, like a baby, be taught how to hold a spoon, how to sit up, hot to walk. You have left us behind by going backwards and we will never see you again.

Jackson, William. In this one, you are twelve. Your round face covered in freckles and your smile, wide, eager to please. Even though the photo isn't in color, it's evident that your eyes are light and they are, a bright blue. You haven't caught up to the other boys in your grade. You still carry baby fat and haven't learned to suck it up the way you're supposed to. You are easy to hurt and you can be made to cry. You haven't yet discovered how to hide your reactions, how to pretend you don't care. Instead, everything you think or feel flickers across your open face. You have red hair and blush easily. You ask me once if you can borrow a pencil to take a geometry quiz. No! I hiss, looking around quickly to see if anyone has noticed. They have not, and I am saved from being associated with you.

The school portraits were taken in early September. In October, your parents ground you for bad grades, leaving you home alone while they go to JV football game. They too are trying to teach you to be tougher, to need people less. When they return home, your mother finds you in the laundry room with the side of your head missing, your dad's gun on the floor next to you. You have been thoughtful to the end, doing it the room that will be the easiest to clean up.

When the principal announces your death on the overhead speakers Monday morning, asking everyone to observe a moment of silence in your memory, Scott Roach who slumps across from me in homeroom whispers Good, I'm glad he's dead. I shiver, struck with the knowledge that people are capable of just about anything.

Kruski, Adam. In this one, you are standing in between two other members of the swim team. You are beautiful and perfect; your hair bleached blond by the sun, your skin brown and your shoulders broad and trustworthy. Most every girl in our class has a crush on you. We have all imagined being asked to go out on a Friday night with you in your blue VW bug. You do well in algebra and p.e., but not so well in English. I am the one picked to be your study partner and I am the one who gets to sit with you in your kitchen with the dishwasher churning in the background, trying to talk to you about the symbolism of gold in Silas Marner. You show off by tossing jelly beans into the air and catching them neatly in your mouth. I believe this is the sexiest thing I have ever witnessed.


That's as far as I got. Obviously, he doesn't come to much of a good end either.

Comments

Liz said…
My high school graduating class holds the distinction (or did until sometime in the mid 90's when i stopped caring) of being the ONLY class to not have someone die while in high school.

I don't know why I know that but it seemed an appropriate fact to dump here...

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