Sinking into Myself Chapter 4: "Ice Cream and Indians"

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The crisis had occurred.
The young girl sat alone and pondered everything.
Had he played with her heart? Kicked it down the way and left it broken?
Had she placed him onto a pedestal left only for God, and forsaken any divine tribute?
He had not spoken to her for a few days…always finding a reason not to talk, always in the company of the vicious lion, the one she thought he had broken away from, to find his own pride. While the young man did not say anything mean, the constant ignoring was cruel in of itself.
She almost gave up all hope but the young man finally stepped up and spoke to her: He apologized for hurting her.
He chastised others for being mean to her
He told her there would always be a part of her in his heart.
The young girl was at peace hearing this. Perhaps she did have a valiant warrior in British Knights who would always protect her. She decided to give her undying love to the young man, as he promised to her. They would meet in secret, away from the civilization of their families and in the view of nature, they joined together. In their hearts, they were married, so why not in mind and body?

Amor animi arbitrio sumitur, non ponitur

Ice Cream and Indians

I awoke before my alarm clock went off, not something I normally did so the day was already off to a peculiar start. It was the first day of my junior year and I felt terrified and alone…even though I was still at home. I didn’t need constant companionship and I didn’t need a soundboard to survive but this was the first year that Kim would not be with me when the doors were opened.

I’ll state again that Kim was the only person to even give me the time of day on my first day at Reardan Junior High School. I could hear the commentary from others: “whoa, someone needs to lay off the Twinkies”…although I had never eaten a Twinkie. Kim came to help this poor, chubby, sad, and new girl when no one else would. She also stated that she would kick anyone’s butt for me if I wanted her to. Kim was taller than the other girls at the time and even though she never had the right words to say to them when they attacked her, verbally; but she was more than capable of knocking them down a few pegs, physically.

She never saw what Tom and Kris did to me…and I never told her the extent of their harassment. I wasn’t going to use my friend as a “get out of jail free” card; so I would eventually have to suck it up, transfer out to another school, or curl up into the fetal position and let them continue to beat on me while sending my mind to some other “happy place.”

Our friendship would be considered unique at most other schools; but Reardan was a small town and with that, the school was small as well. There were only 38 members to my class and around the same number in the other grades, give or take, and for some reason, everyone crossed the “clique” boundaries. We did not have, specifically, the “athletes” or the “geeks,” “stoners” or “airheads”. I’ll take the time right now to say that at that time there would be four out of six cheerleaders on the honor roll; an eventual valedictorian who could roll a joint blindfolded (please don’t ask how I know) and a math major who knew how to play electric guitar a la Guns’ N’ Roses’ Slash. Our school was unique like that.

Unique as it was, it still had its issues: for all of the casual students, there were differences between ones who were ‘just there’; the ones who were ‘not aware’ and the ones who ‘didn’t' really give a care’. The latter was the one to observe you as you walked into the school and would make mental notes about your hair, makeup (or lack thereof) and what you're wearing...even though most of us all wore jeans to school--there would always be something.

That was my relationship with the before-mentioned Michelle Bremerton. She was a senior that year...which meant I only had to deal with her for one more year and I wouldn't mind doing several reverse summersaults in a row to show my relief of that.

Michelle was someone who never liked me to begin with. I'm not sure what nerve I touched upon when I was a freshman but she made sure that I knew she had a disdain for me. I asked her one time why she hated me so much and she never responded. It was like some buried anger or something. I couldn’t have reminded her of herself. She was quite thin--and I mean that in a good way--and the guys simply flocked to her. One person even wrote several poems about her. I don’t think she ever saw them as she called him out over his hair being unruly and the pages were left all over the hallway floor.

She had a way to adapt to her boyfriend. If he wore leather, she did. If he wore a cowboy hat, boot cut jeans and some high fashion boots, she did too, Michelle and whoever she was with would become like one person, joined at the hip and the spit cup.
So we had a kind of snarky back and forth with each other. I never talked ill about her (yes, I know...you're reading this, so...) but that didn’t stop Kim from saying a few things about her. Fortunately for both of us, the news was never linked back to her.

The drive into Reardan was uneventful. I took it a little slow, knowing the Lincoln Country Sheriff Department and the Reardan Police would be patrolling the main highway into town. The scenery was always the same: Farms, farm houses, barns and a stray cow or combine on the road. Sameness is good though, as the highway was never closed due to overpass construction or a new turn lane.

"And she has graced us with her presence."
"As you have my mine, Oh Andrea the Great." Andrea and Jennifer met me in front of the high school. The three of us were the 'younger' girls on the squad. Three seniors and three juniors and we all got along because we allowed the seniors to think they were in charge. We learned during the past summers at cheer camp that it was best to allow the older members of the squad to believe they knew the answers but to covertly run the show from the bottom of the pyramid.

We walked into the school together and tried to not show any attitude except cheer, joy and a “glad to see you” kind of smile. We all waved and said hello to just about everyone we could see and we actually meant it. I was happy to see people--I may not have known them (as a few appeared to be freshmen) but I told them I was glad to see them anyway. The three of us were wearing matching maroon and grey headbands, the colors of our school.

We broke rank and went to find our lockers. Mine was located near the end of the hall, second to the last one. I slammed my backpack into the locker, taking only a binder, notebook and a pen to my first period class, which was Spanish II. A class where Tom and Kris were not a part of, as both would need to take remedial Spanish in order to read the menu at Taco Bell.

Spanish was never a strong point for me. I could read it, but had issues putting it all together. At one time we were to write "I'm hungry" in Español and I wrote 'tengo hombre'. At least the teacher got a kick out of it. I would have preferred French or maybe German but those languages were not available. No, the only choices were Spanish, Sarcasm, and Innuendo.

Mrs. Daiglar, our Spanish teacher, greeted me at the door with a grande: “¡Buenos días, bienvenidos, Ámbar!”
In Spanish One, we were all given “new” names for the class. Either a Spanish pronunciation of our name or a new one if one did not exist. She took one look at my name, muttered “where do parents find these names for their kids, in a Scrabble game?” and then asked for my middle. So, for the remainder of the class, I went by Ámbar.
“Bueno Dias, Senora,” I replied.
“Find your seat, your name will be on the desk.”

I walked into the classroom as she greeted another student with the same gusto.
My desk was in the far corner, not exactly the best place to be as Mrs. Daiglar would seldom walk over to that side of the room, so if you had a cold or a hearing problem…it was best to learn to read lips—or else fall behind.
I knew pretty much everyone in the class, as I said, our school was small, and it consisted of sophomores, juniors and seniors who were hoping to possibly survive another year of learning a foreign language of trying to convey themselves in a professional manner. That, and learn Spanish.
The class had just about filled up and I had readied my notebook for the language drill that Mrs. Daiglar would unleash on the class when Kris walked into the room.
“No, no, no,” I thought to myself. “Please just say you walked into the wrong class or that you're doing this to gain some type of prank award.”
“Senior Gersmehl, please take a seat.”

Kris sat on the opposite side of the room, in a desk mirroring my own position. Why was he even in the class? He hated Spanish and couldn't pronounce “quesadilla” if his life depended on it. Let's not even get started on saying a phrase like “I look at my face in the mirror”. So either Mrs. Daiglar was in on the joke or my year of Spanish Two was going to a big old load of caca.

I had to put up with Kris last year in English. We weren’t going out at that time…no that happened earlier in life…back in the dark ages: ninth grade. I could tolerate him for little bits at a time as he would make running commentary on whatever we were reading. He commented that Sancho Panza was always sitting on his ass while Don Quixote did all of the work. He then used the lyrics to Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-a-Ling” on our poetry study.

In Spanish One he stepped into a hot fryer when we made fried tortillas and when people asked him what happened he would comment with “nacho problem”. We were usually paired together in assignments and dialogues…which was something I could not stand. While I could tolerate him being in the same state I was in there was no way on God’s green earth that he was going to ruin my GPA.

Second period was no better than the first as Kris was in my Algebra Two class. If I had to guess, I could have sworn he deliberately tried to match up his classes with mine…but that wasn’t possible…no, there were only two possible classes he could have been (first or second) and since he was in Spanish Two…Sic vita est. Fortunately for me, he was in the back of the class and I was in the front. I didn’t have to look at any part of him and that was a welcoming thought.

“Kris is in both of your classes?” Kim asked.
“Yes.”
“Well, Tom’s not in any of mine. We went over our schedules this morning. Kind of sucks.”
“There's always lunch,” I replied.
“Or I could change classes. What exactly do they do in metal shop?”

We sat in the recessed area in the middle of the hallway known as “the pit”. It was the morning break, a ten minute gap between second and third period. A highly-prized time for the students who smoked. Tom, being one of them, to get in that nicotine fix.
“I mean, I guess we don’t have to spend every waking moment with each other.”
“Sounds like you’re still in the honeymoon phase.”
“What would you say if I told you we we're really thinking about getting married one day?”
“I'd say you're crazy,” I replied as I looked down the hall--Any moment Tom would walk up with Kris, maybe, and a few others; all with the stench of acrid smoke floating around their clothes.
“Doesn’t everyone think about getting married? Don’t you ever dream about it?”
“I call them nightmares, but, please, go on.”
“Tom is a dream. I feel safe and loved by him. The man is my knight in shining armor.”
Shining wasn’t exactly the metaphor I was thinking about.
“Does your dad want to kill us now?”
“No, he just wants to put me on a tighter leash,” I said with a slight sigh.
“So, you have to sneak around to see Alex?”
“No, they’re okay with him. He’s passed that test but I’m sure there will be a midterm he’ll have to study up for.”
No amount of cram studying would ever be sufficient for my parents and I refused to say anything to them further about us.
“We can see him tonight, when I go to work.”
“Tom’s not taking you?”
“I thought you were.”
“I can, no problem,” it really wasn't...it was a better excuse to go and see him than to just go up and see him.
“Let me know if it ever becomes one.”

It was never an issue to take Kim to work during the week. During the summer Jamie would usually bring Kim by my house and I’d drive the rest of the way. Later on, Jamie would pick her up from work. So, during the school year, we were to reverse it. It was okay with me and since I got to go see Alex, even better.
Tom walked down the hallway and stopped in front of us.
“Hey, Babe. Jazz.”
“Hey, baby,” Kim cooed as she jumped up and leapt to the other side of the pit.

I could smell cigarette smoke on him and he was still over seven feet away from me.

Tom grabbed her by the waist and hoisted her up and over. He had the upper body strength to be in cheerleading but I wouldn’t have wanted to work with him..even if he could lift two fliers at once.
“Shall I escort you to class, m’dear?”
“You shall,” she looked back to me. “See you later, Jazz.”
I waved to her and watched them walk away.
I didn’t like it.
Or I should say I didn’t like Tom. The thought of having to see someone every little hour of the day, thinking about them…having them lift you in the air and think: I’m flying…and looking into the eyes of someone who cares about me….Not that it mattered. Having an in-school boyfriend was over-rated.

I knew of it…I had one, and we walked all over Lincoln and Spokane county in search of ourselves and other things teenagers only think about when holding hands of someone they’re hot for.

The third period bell rang and I slowly rose up from the pit only to see Kris walk by with Michelle Bremerton and slowly nod his head to me. I wanted to ignore it because I knew what it meant. It was what he would do whenever we had a long conversation; an as you wish gesture he always gave to me when he didn't want to argue and ceded the victory to me. It wasn't really his gesture but more of his eyes, which I would always stare at.

Again, another reason I avoided talking to him as I would have to look at his face and then I'd see his brown eyes.
No, they did peer into my soul or anything like that...but I would be a liar if I said they had no effect on me at that moment...as he was looking at me...even with Michelle Bremerton at his side. They weren't holding hands and they had the obligatory two feet distance between them.
What. The. Hell. Was I doing?

I turned away from Kris and walked in the opposite direction. I refused to look and see if he was looking back at me. As much as I would have wanted to talk to him again, that ship had sailed and even though I could get into a speedboat board the vessel, I knew what would happen if I did.
"You look like you got something on your mind," Andrea asked as we sat next to each other in English. Mrs. Balum, the English teacher had stepped out of the room and requested that we keep the noise to a "gentle, low, roar". We attempted to oblige her on that first day.
"Not really," I replied.
"You are, like, aware that Sarah has you lined up, um, to be a flyer this year for the up-rights formation, eh?"
"When was this decided?" I asked, taken aback as Andrea was in line for that position.
"It hasn't been, um, officially."
"I thought you wanted it."
"I do...but-" Andrea was someone who would give you the shirt off of her back (providing she had a camisole or a shell underneath). She actually got physically sick if she felt she was impeding on someone.
"I'm fine with you doing it. I don't want to break my shins in a fall."
She nodded as Mrs. Balum opened the door.
"Thank you, class, I could just barely hear you from down the hall."
English class was going to be great, as Kris was not in it.

“What’s on you mind?” Kim asked as we stood next to my locker.
“You’re the second person to say that to me today.”
“You’re missing you “cheeriness” today.”
“I think my cheer meter has hit zero.”
“Sorry.”
“No, no it’s fine,” I replied. “No, no its not. I wish Alex went here.”
“So he could hang with you?”
“Well, not really. I don’t need anyone by my side to me make feel important. Not that anyone who does.-”
“No, I totally get it, Jazz, I do. Plus the first day kind of bites.”
“Yeah, tell me about it.”
“Okay, you opened the door. Did you know that the coach expected me to run five laps up the stairs and around the gym? I mean like, holy Hell, do I look like I ran cross-country all summer? I was ready to barf up a lung.”
“And right at lunch too. There goes my appetite with that great mental image.”
“Hey, if I could bottle that and sell it as a diet; I’d be freaking rich.”
I nodded in agreement.



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