“I know you’re a guidance counselor…but this isn’t exactly a ‘where do I see myself in the future and what school do I want to go with’ type of question.”
“Well, David, my position of a school counselor is to assist students in where they want to go, as you say, in the future, but it’s also a part of my job to make sure everything is okay with you here in the present.”
“Yeah, the present is the issue. I haven’t been sleeping well and I don’t really care about things at the moment. There’s a small voice in my head telling me to jump of the bridge downtown and into the rapids.”
“How long have you been hearing that?”
“A few months now.”
“Since she died.”
“Her name was Julia and, and she just died one day. I guess that’s all I need to say. I’m sorry-I-“
“David, please sit back down, and tell me about it.”
“Does talking about things really help?”
“Is that your personal or professional opinion?”
“Do you think it will help more than jumping off of a bridge?”
“Right now, I guess so.”
“So, please tell me, who was Julia?”
* * *
I started my sophomore year at Reardan High School on November 13th, 1992. And there I was, a new student, with not much hope of really doing anything that year except for getting by. Just as well, I had nothing to prove to anyone, much less to myself. However, due to my height, I was asked by almost every single person if I was going to try out for basketball season. I didn’t really want to, but the coach, because I stood six foot two, would not take no for answer, so…not even past my first day, I was in the gym after school, shooting hoops.
There weren’t too many others in the gym, as most of the basketball players also played football and were at practice. I wasn’t the best at three pointers but I was quite able to put the ball in the net when close enough. No one else wanted to play against me, even though they probably could have easily stolen the ball from me if I had to dribble it (another reason why I never played ball). So, after a while of moving all over the back court of the gym I gave the ball up to someone else, walked out of the gym and outside the school.
I remember it being cold because I didn’t bring a jacket that day and, since I lived a few blocks down the street, I wouldn’t be in the cold for too long, if only I had just started walking, but instead I stopped to look at two girls who were talking about…something…different.
"You said that you loved me."
"I do love you."
"If I was lying, then why am I standing so close to you? Why am I looking at you with such adoration that I-"
The two stopped as they saw me looking at them.
“Sorry, we’re running over lines for a play.”
Perhaps that was a relief, I wasn't sure I was ready to see a lesbian make out session in the flesh, as it were.
“What’s the play?” I asked.
“Trapped in Love,” one of them replied.
"Never heard of it, but...I was never really into movies or dramatics...at least up until three minutes ago."
A car's headlights flashed in the parking lot and the other girl picked her backpack up and started walking to the car.
"See you, Jules!" the girl turned back to say as she walked away.
"I'll have them down by Monday," Jules, or as I would eventually learn her name to be, Julia, said.
Julia...wow, I hate to describe her like this...it's so much like a sixth grade love note: she had light blond, kind of red hair. She was a fourteen year-old freshmen who was heavily into the drama club, sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.
At that particular moment, you could have driven an iron pike into my skull and I'd never feel it...yeah, it gets like that...I wanted to see any mundane she'd do or say...I'd have to say it, I was in love...and I only knew her for a few moments.
Yeah, that sounds like the thoughts of an idiot…yeah, I was an idiot. Still am. I didn’t know anything about her except what could be deduced at that exact moment..and there were a lot of rabbit holes that I could go down.
“When’s your play?”
“We just started rehearsals…it’s going to be a few months down the road before we’re ready,”
“Whats it about?”
“You really want to know or are you just trying to get to know me?”
“A little of both…more on the getting to know you…but…I like a good story too.”
“It’s about a relationship between a blind guy and a mute girl.”
“And, of course, there’s the required snobby bitch and the chorus of her friends who try to keep the two apart.”
“And what part are you?”
“They haven’t assigned them.”
“Going for the lead?”
“No, I’m not that confident I’ll get it.”
“If you want it, go for it,” I said as another car pulled into the parking lot.
Julia looked to the car, picked her bag up off the ground and walked away.
“You should do the same,” she replied, “I’ll see you, Monday?”
“Yes, yes you will.”
The walk home was uneventful, at least externally if was…but in my head, everything was firing off like the fourth of July. My brain would repeat her words “you should do the same…” and I would have to stop and wonder if she said it as an invitation or a physical challenge. Remember, I was, after all, an idiot.
Our house was still a mess of boxes and packing paper. If we had a living room, I couldn’t tell. My bedroom had several boxes in various stacks on the floor. No bed though…apparently it was still on the moving truck…along with just about every piece of clothing I had except for a few changes.
“How was your first day at school?” We were relaying our conversation through the house—who needed an intercom when you could yell through the duct work?
“I was hoping for a little more than ‘not bad’”
“I’ll give you an update on Monday,” I replied as I walked downstairs.
Family-wise, it was just me and ma…umm, mom…sorry, I’ll try to keep my vernacular under control. We moved to the area from Alabama, with my mother finding work in Spokane with some law office. Didn’t really care to know what she did…she just one day said that we were moving cross-country so that she could help people who felt down-trodden and in need of assistance. It was like mom, was channeling Batman or Robin Hood. I refused to be Robin or a Merry Man and I fought the move tooth and nail…at least up to the point when the lone vein in her forehead swelled and her eyes glazed over. Not to beat the analogy to death, but there were a few times in our ‘daily disagreements’ about moving that she became The Incredible Hulk or was channeling Hulk Hogan when he betrayed America and turned heel.
"You're late getting home."
"Got drafted to play on the basketball team"
"Oh, that's wonderful, dear."
"C'mon, Ma, I can't stand team games and just because I'm tall doesn't mean--"
"I know. I know, we don't a repeat of Junior high."
I blew my hair out of my face and was just about to go on a small tirade but instead I thought of Julia and the feeling went away.
‘No, we don’t,” I replied,
“Well, the fridge is up and running. So we need to go grocery shopping.”
“We have to go towards Spokane.”
“Swell. Can I drive?”
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