Theatre Magic

Reads: 168  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
a story of dreams and what we make of them

Submitted: March 29, 2008

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 29, 2008



[begun 3/30/2001]
Theatre Magic

Chapter 1

"When the most important things in our life happen, we quite often do not know,  at the moment, what is going on."
-C.S. Lewis

It all started with our high school production of "South Pacific".  I had had big dreams, of the changing-the-world variety.  The cures for cancer and AIDS, respectively, world peace, saving the various furry and slippery baby assorted whatevers that were endangered at any given moment, and, Jesus' injunction that "the poor will always be will us" be damned, food and shelter for all.  Funny how ridiculous it sounds in retrospect.  But adolescent idealism for the good off all mankind paled in comparison to that moment, that moment, when the curtain rose and the lights came up and we were transported to someplace completely different.  Time travel and reincarnation and eternal life all rolled into one.  You must understand that I was not your average high school junior.  I was going places.  These were not just nebulous dreams—I had the potential to make headway on at least a handful of them.  I was at the top of my class, 1500's on my SAT's, a virtual lock at Harvard.  My parents had expectations.  Expectations that only a sixteen year old can scoff at.  And even then only in private.  Suddenly the unthinkable—that I might not attend an Ivy League school—loomed into the unimaginable—that I might choose not to attend college at all.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I only wanted to stick my toes in the water, see what all the excitement was about.  Theatre was a mystery to me; my family just wasn't into 'that sort of thing'.  Opera, a little chamber music perhaps, but nothing so pedantic as amateur theatre.  School plays, dinner theater (God forbid), church dramas, all lumped together under the sardonic sobriquet of 'opiate for the unwashed masses'.  On the same level as gladiators slaughtering one another in the coliseums.  My folks were less than entirely pleased when I voiced an interest in working on the stage crew, which at this level meant little more than moving flats painted as foliage around the auditorium stage.  They gave their grudging consent ("Choose your battles,"  I heard my mother grumble as I danced blithely away toward auditions), and I was in.  By the end of the first week I found myself drafted into the girls chorus.  I had been too self-conscious to brave the whole monologue and song gauntlet.  But since a lot of the regulars were tied up with soccer season, and the beleaguered drama teacher found I could carry a tune and had more than your average share of rudimentary rhythm for a white girl, I was ushered into the inner circle by default.  The coveted "Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair" coven.  Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote all the good scenes for the boys.  

As fate or the Muses would have it, I found myself paired up in the couples numbers with the closest thing a self-avowed loner can claim as a best friend.  Two impressive misfits, Scout and I had always compared ourselves to that classic outcast duo of Rudolph and Herbie.  "Let's be in-de-pen-dent together" and all that.  It takes a unique personality type to view the Island of Misfit Toys as a life goal.  

Scout, whose birth certificate reads Norbert Greenville, of all things, has been my best friend since my seventh birthday, when I fulfilled that epic rite of passage, running away from home.  Snoopy blankie tied up around a random conglomerate of tollhouse cookies, my teddy bear, a change of socks (I was always a grownup, even as a child)…  In typical fashion, my sojourn lasted the big four blocks, which is about as rebellious as my childhood adventures ever got.  Sitting inside one of those smelly box-like bushes, bemoaning my tragic existence and the conspicuous absence once again of the Easy Bake Miniwave Oven in the gift pile, I realized that I wasn’t alone.  This scraggly kid, all knees and elbows, was thoughtlessly occupying the bush adjacent to my chosen lair.  Here I had ventured all this way, braving potential catastrophes unknown, only to find my solitude shattered by a boy.  Life is cruel.  This is the day I learned the meaning of the word perspective.  The kid had just come through the maelstrom, dropped uncomprehending in the suburbs to live with his aunt and uncle who until a mere week ago had been unaware of his existence (and he of theirs).  A real live orphan.  Every middle class kid's secret dream.  But he didn't look all that glamorous just now, all skinny and dirty and scratched up, hiding in his own new front yard.  My tragedy was no longer quite so epic.

"Whatcha doin'?"
"Nothin.  Same as you, I guess."
"I'm Sammie.  It's my birthday.  I'm seven"
"I'm Scout.  I'm eight."
"Hey, my dog's name is Scout.  You wanna meet him?"

And so began a lifelong friendship.  We traipsed the four long blocks back to my place and spent the rest of my landmark birthday wrestling around in the grass with Scout and Phineas, our golden lab and cocker spaniel.  Named from my favorite literary characters to date, from To Kill a Mockingbird and A Separate Peace.  I sort of skipped over the whole picture book phase and went right to the classics.  My mom started reading me Tolkien when I was four, and it was all downhill from there.  

I'm Sammie, by the way.  Call me Samantha and I'll either pretend not to hear or punch you in the face, depending on my mood.  Oh, let's face it, it's always been the former, I'm not half as tough as the persona I try to project, but it's a useful scam at times.  I've always been Sammie, which is not really what my parents intended; it just sort of happened, and there's no going back now.  We'll never know what Scout's folks had in mind with their little piece of erudite child abuse, but he had been Scout for as long as he could remember, and it seemed to work. [Except of course for the annual first-day-of-school horror of attendance taking.  As the new teacher approached the G's I would watch him slide further and further down in his seat, dreading the inevitable rush of mockery that would accompany the interrogative "Norbert?  Norbert Greenville?"  And he would mutter imploringly, "Scout, please, just Scout", and the reprieve would be extended for another year.]  

I had this baton, of the twirling variety, this silver thing with balls on the ends half chewed off by some sadistic bunny rabbit with a rubber fetish.  It served a zillion functions—baseball bat, hockey stick, light saber, whatever the chosen game might be.  Point is, we could make anything out of nothing at all in no time flat.  Buying toys was not Scout's surrogate parents' strong suit.  And I felt guilty, having access to immeasurable 'stuff' while he sat playing with his socks, so we made up our own versions of entertainment.

I could wax poetic about our next decade of idyllic adventures under the suburban sun, but for now let's jump ahead to the watershed, the stage of the Jesuit Brothers Catholic High School Auditorium.  Very glamorous.  One giant leap off Broadway.  Ever since we were little, Scout had been one of those scrawny undernourished waifs, a foot shorter and ten pounds lighter than me.  But just in the past semester, puberty had run amuck and he was virtually unrecognizable as my ragged orphan buddy.  Surreal, but true—all at once girls were giggling in his general direction.  I wouldn't go so far as to say he was drop dead gorgeous ('cause that would be creepy), but he was several steps above funny-looking, that’s for sure.  Okay, I admit it--downright handsome, and at long last taller than me, which in high school is an unassailable bonus.  

We had always done our collective homework curled up on my bed, legs tucked under us, pencils and erasers scratching, tongues stuck out one side of our mouths.  It was only this year that my mother acknowledged that Scout was a boy, and as such our activities, school-related and otherwise, had been relegated to the main floor.  We just laughed at the notion—how silly could parents be?  We were the most unselfconscious of pals.  His singing voice had always been higher than mine, so when we did our backyard renditions of "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Sound of Music" (albums never to be found in my household, but triumphantly unearthed on an expedition through the spidery crawlspace in his uncle's basement), I always somehow ended up as the Captain von Trapp to his Maria, the Perchik to his Chava.  It was all the same to us.  If we had been raised in a different generation, I would most likely have assumed he was gay (an unthinkable and unthought notion in our neighborhood at the time).  As it was, it was just…normal.

So when, two weeks before opening night, our Joe Cable broke his leg playing hockey, I was overjoyed when Scout was thrust wide-eyed into the role.  

"Sammie, I have to take my shirt off in front of the whole school, and keep my voice from cracking all at the same time.  What am I gonna do?"

I need to back up a little.  You can't fully comprehend the depth and breadth of this dilemma without some more backstory on the inimitable Scout.  I'm an introvert; the word has not yet been invented to describe his degree of innate backwardness on the social scale.  You know that Myers-Briggs personality test, the one with all that INFP, ENTJ jargon?  He scored a one on the introvert/extrovert part.  A one.  He is the poster child for social anxiety disorder.  So this was a crisis of epic proportions, a true test of psychic courage.  I told him to look on the bright side—at least he didn't have to dance in a grass skirt with coconuts as breasts for the "Honey Bun" number like the captain of the wrestling team.  He didn't laugh.  It was going to be a long two weeks.  

I have to admit to feeling a certain degree of guilt.  It was my goading, after all, that had gotten him into this predicament.  I shamed him into auditioning, with a degree of logic thrown in that he needed something resembling social interaction on his transcripts if he wanted to get into a respectable college.  So now I felt responsible for getting him to the other side of this obstacle course in one piece.  The best he was hoping for was survival, but I got totally hooked.  This was…MAGIC.  Theatre magic is a real phenomenon, and I was lost in it.

Chapter 2

Final dress rehearsal.  I haven't eaten all day, the adrenaline is pumping way too fast and hard for such mundane things as food to be required.  Scout is practically hyperventilating on the couch in the green room.At this particular moment, it seems less like magic and a whole lot more like…work.  What could I possibly have been thinking?  I’ve led a reasonably stable existence up to this point.  And poor Scout—I think I may be responsible for sending my very best friend in the world into imminent cardiac arrest.  All we can do at this point is ride this thing through to its logical conclusion.  I’m having flashbacks to “Dead Poet Society”, and Neil’s life and death choices in the wake of his debut as Puck in Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The correlation doesn’t really work, though, thank God; my parents are totally behind me, as long as I promise not to let this opening night define all my life goals from here on out.  As I walk out into the stage lights for the very first time, it all seems remarkably surreal.  As if it’s all happening to someone else entirely.  As long as I don’t attempt to focus through the lights to the familiar faces raptly focused on me from the audience, I can be someone completely different.  I try to put this phenomenon into words as I meet Scout in the wings just before his first entrance, but any attempt at reassurance comes across as too little too late.  I only hope he can one day forgive me for ever suggesting this as a ‘wouldn’t it be fun if…’ option.  At this point he most likely feels he would be perfectly within his rights to have a contract put out on my head.  

I thought it would all work itself out; I really did.  This is the point in the Saturday Afternoon Specials where the beleaguered introvert subsumes himself in the role and discovers a whole new world out there to conquer with his new-found self-confidence.  Not so my friend Scout.  What for me was magic, for him was just another opportunity to fall short.  He folded up out there, froze, forgot every line, and practically broke down in tears in front of the better part of the student body.  They mercifully brought in the curtain, and my religion teacher (also the erstwhile musical director) took over, script in hand, as Lieutenant Cable.  

I’m lying in bed in this room that I’ve had since I was four years old, everything compulsively in its place down to seating charts for the stuffed animals, the guilt coming fast and hard.  Yesterday I was jealous.  Jealous of my best friend having his fifteen minutes, his shot at glory, his literal moment in the spotlight, while I would remain on the fringes.  By now he should have emerged victorious and be the talk of the school, glowing with personality and self-esteem.  He’s the talk of the school, at any rate, if he can ever convince himself to face high school again.  My mom tried to make light of it, taking a few of us out for ice cream at Farrell’s after the opening, effusive with congratulations for our “stunning opening.”  She said I should call him, convince him to finish out the weekend performances.  “It’s not like the world came to an end, honey,” she innocently said.  Obviously, she no longer remembers the harsh realities of adolescence.  Parents, with all their hard-earned knowledge of how the world works, can sometimes be downright stupid.  I’ll be lucky if he speaks to me again within the decade.

Chapter 3

I made it to college, but not the expected Ivy League, and I’m just limping my way through my classes anyway.  I have much more important things going on in my world.  After the South Pacific debacle, I started forcing myself to go to  auditions, any open audition I could find, Shakespeare festivals, community theatre, church musicals...  Everything I had ever tried had always come easily to me.  This was something I was not innately good at, an undeniable challenge.  Interacting with people, putting myself out there, on the line; it was truly hard for me, and I had to prove—to myself—that I was good enough.  Somehow being number two in my class and having a G.P.A. of 4.25 (hooray for Advanced Placement) wasn’t enough for me when I knew there was something out there by which I was still entirely intimidated.  My parents remained overwhelmingly understanding.  Perhaps they understood at some visceral level that putting up roadblocks would only harden my resolve, so they supported me to the ends of the earth, certainly with hopes that I would burn this little fetish out before graduation.  To no avail, Mom and Dad.  After numerous rejections and many even more painful successes—I’m my own harshest critic—I did unearth the talent buried within.  I’m good.  Not a great actor by any stretch, but good, believable, and it feeds a need in me and provides an outlet for things trapped inside that I didn’t know what to do with before.  

I’m halfway through my sophomore year at a reasonably respectable college up in Ohio, majoring in children’s theatre.  Hoping one day to help open up this life-changing world to kids sooner than I was able to discover it on my own.  Not quite the changing-the-world that my parents (or I, for that matter) initially had in mind, but not without merit.  Just on a smaller scale.  Somewhere along the way I decided that changing just your own small corner of the world could be enough.  In Arthur’s immortal words in Camelot, some of the drops sparkle, and that’s my new life goal—to find those drops and help them learn to sparkle.  Some variant between that and Kermit the Frog’s crusade for millions of people happy.

It has been almost three years since that wedge was pounded into mine and Scout’s friendship, and the worst of the damage seems to have healed.  He never really blamed me for the outcome; more for the fact that I was a witness to his ultimate failure.  What had always been so easy between us became strained.  I could never have imagined that the two of us could be in the same room and have it be awkward; suddenly, we had nothing to say.  It was as least as much my fault as his, but I didn’t know whether to pretend nothing had happened, or to try to make him talk about it directly, so I quit somewhere halfway in between, and found myself in a minefield.  So paranoid about the frailties of the male ego that I was afraid to just be his friend in the way we always had been.  I imagine he took my clumsy tactics as a tacit reproof of some kind, while honestly we were both so busy blaming ourselves for what had transpired that we never looked much beyond that.  And in the manic rush for college recommendations and the sheer mechanics of graduating from high school, we buried the worst of it and just hoped the friendship would surface whole and much less complicated.  

I think it has, although the easy camaraderie, the giggling at nothing, has been harder to recapture.  I chose this college for two reasons, neither of them the right ones.  First, it was the only place with a children’s theatre major I could find (you can almost feel my parents’ horror), and second, it’s only two hours from where Scout ended up in Indianapolis.  He’s coming over this weekend, and I can’t wait.  

Chapter 4

Oh my God.  I don’t know what to do.  I don’t have a script for this particular twist in the plot—improv has never been my strong suit.  To put it bluntly, I suck at it.  My mom always said I was the world’s worst liar.  Everything I’m thinking and feeling shows in my eyes.  It’s one of the best features I inherited from my dad, the Harrison hazel eyes, but their honesty can be dreadfully frustrating.  I thought I was safe.  Scout has had a girlfriend off and on since we left home, and although it felt a little strange to know that he wasn’t all mine anymore, it kept our relationship on a very even footing, the lines meticulously drawn.  Maybe he’s just on the rebound, and I’m convenient, but he believes he’s in love with me.  I’m not qualified.  And I don’t know what to do.

Here’s the thing.  I’ve had a couple of boyfriends here and there, but none for any significant length of time (say, more than a month), and none where the two of us were ever at the same point at the same time.  Much unrequited love in either direction, but either I was crazy about him and he was merely tolerating me, or he was chasing madly after me and I was hedging my bets.  I never dated when I was living at home, and even here I’ve never been a part of one of those holding hands, kissing at the dorm entrance, comfortable kind of relationships.  I’m starting to think I’m not built that way.  That I may not ever be willing to give up a part of my soul to another person in exchange for theirs.  I like all my pieces where they are.  A few years ago I would have blithely said, sure, I’ve been in love.  Meaning really, sure, I’ve had my heart ripped out and tossed asunder.  When I was a little younger, I believed that one implied the other.  But looking back, what I was in was more like hero worship, pedestal construction (I’m avoiding the term infatuation like the plague, it’s a fundamental matter of self-respect).  Being open enough to get trampled upon is not synonymous with being in love.

I have a fear of the entire concept, in both directions.  I’ve suddenly realized that in the (rare) cases when I have been the terminator, it has been because I saw that someone was falling for me.  I couldn’t stand having that degree of power over another individual.  I didn’t ever want anyone to care enough about me that I could wreck their world.  So I would run from that power before it had a chance to get its claws dug in, when it would (presumably) hurt the least.  I’m much more comfortable being on the other end of the receiving line.  It’s not some bizarre masochistic tendency; it’s just that I’ve always been able to hold back that vital piece that would drop me over the edge.  Falling in love—an intriguing idiom.  To most it would imply ease, a giving over and letting events take their predetermined course.  Not me, man—for me it’s like stepping off the edge into the Grand Canyon.  Fingernails primed, ready to scrabble my way back up at the first opportunity.  A primal fear.  I can’t see anything pleasant or effortless about the process.  Is this something one can ‘get over’, given years of costly therapy, or should I just get used to the sole company of cats now and save myself a lot of grief and expense?

Chapter 5:  Scout

I just had the most incredible revelation of my life.  Not that my life has been all that stellar up to this point.Truth be told, I am at heart a geek.The most intriguing thing I’ve ever done is to establish a friendship with Sammie Harrison at the age of seven.  I’ve been functioning within the aura of her charisma ever since.  Our friendship was my only prayer of social acceptability throughout our growing up.  I was nearly lost as it was; in her absence, I would have been tragic.  Sure, I’ve gotten somewhat less pathetic as the years have passed and the acne has subsided—the South Pacific debacle notwithstanding, now merely the stuff of nightmares—but even now, nearly an upperclassman, nothing in my world is truly complete without her tacit stamp of approval.  

I’ve always dreamed of being in love.  That probably sounds like a girl thing, but there it is.  Then I woke up this morning and realized that I already am, and have been for some time.  I was just too thick-headed to figure it out without being hit on the head with a baseball bat.  She has been my buddy, my confidante, the one I come crying to when the edges of my world start to crumble.  Somehow it failed to occur to me that the one person I seek out to tell all the petty details of my life might be the one person I should strive to spend the rest of that life with.  My roommate, the campus Casanova, asked me the other day why I don’t go out of my way to meet girls, do the singles bar crawl thing.  “When I fall in love, I fall hard. So,” (I said with a wry smile)  “I’ve learned to keep my balance.”  What a load of crap.  It’s much more straightforward than that.  I’m just a garden variety coward.  But I’ve been pondering it ever since.  Why don’t I have any desire to play the game, pursue the quest for the ideal soul mate?  And I’ve come to the astounding conclusion that it’s because I found her, ages ago.  

Colloquial wisdom has it that you’re supposed to be friends first.  But what if you’ve been friends forever?  How do you bridge the gap to a new dimension without jeopardizing that precious thing you’ve already got?  (And, on a selfishly practical note, without coming across as a total idiot?)  You know what?  I’m going for it.  I’ve been cautious and cerebral my whole damn life, carefully examining each step before I venture forth.  I’ve wasted so much time already, not admitting what seems so blatantly apparent in the light of this particular morning.  Onward into the breach!

I like to think of that horrendous moment on my high school stage as being the nadir of my entire life.  Convenient, really, in the grand scheme of things, to get the low point out of the way at such a young age.  The catch is that in order to ensure its position as the worst day ever,  I find myself avoiding taking chances.  That’s what that day was—taking the opportunity of all time and just going with it.  Desperately unlike me, but Sammie was leaning on me, siphoning her courage into me with all her indomitable will.  She was certain that her belief in me could be strong enough to carry us both victorious to the end.  How unfair of me, to have allowed her to believe these past several years that her grand experiment in taking human nature to the next level was a resounding failure.  And if I once again remain cringing in the shadows rather than reaching out and grabbing what I know should be mine, then maybe it has.  

[continued August 17, 2003]

I can’t believe I’m here, standing outside her window.  I’ve climbed through this first-story window countless times without a thought, but now I find myself frozen with…what?  Fear?  Is it as basic as that?  Maybe it’s more of an unwillingness to let go of the status quo.  No matter how it goes here tonight, whether I consider the outcome a success or the alternative, our relation to one another will never be the same as it is at this moment.  And, maddening as I find our current lack of awareness, I am reluctant to consign it to the past.  In an hour or two, I may be yearning for the simplicity of what we have always had.  Yes, it’s fear.  As basic as that.

I can see her silhouetted in the flashes from the television.  She’s watching “Sense and Sensibility”—again.  I wonder if she has any idea how beautiful she is.  No, I know she doesn’t know it.  I don’t think I realized it myself until recently.  Now she’s all I can think about.  

Chapter 6:  Sammie

[continued January 14, 2004]

I am the world’s largest loser.  It’s a quantifiable fact.  I could not have made an uglier mess of the situation if I had spent years in the planning.  I thought I was okay with it; I thought, in spite of my inherent cowardice, that I could roll with it, make it a good thing  As the emotional pendulum continued to swing, I even began to anticipate this meeting as a turning point, maybe the pivotal moment of my life, when the music swells and the doves take flight and everyone lives happily ever after.  

By the time Scout clambered his way unceremoniously through my window, the pendulum was somewhere between those two extremes, but my optimism remained at the forefront.  Perhaps it was, after all, time for a change.  I’m not a little girl anymore.  Rumor has it that, with or without my knowledge or consent, I have indeed passed the threshold into womanhood.  Honestly, I don’t know what that means.  I don’t feel any different than when I was ten, or fifteen.  The fabled transformation from ugly duckling into graceful swan never really translated into my life.  I’m just…me.

At any rate, there he was, this guy, gazing at me from across the room.  Neither of us had the slightest idea what to say, how to commence the journey into this uncharted territory.  Being a romantic in the abstract is all well and good.  Scout and I have perfected that art over the years, long summer afternoons reveling in songs, novels, films, and our own naïve conceptions of what romance is and ought to be.  But there we were, caught in a frozen moment of time, and I have never been so uncomfortable in my own skin.  

Then we both burst out laughing, the oxygen found its way back into the room, and time moved forward at last.  There was a chance, a brief glimmer of hope, that we were going to survive this transition after all.  And then he kissed me.  Just like that.  I don’t know what I expected.  Maybe that we would sit on the bed and talk theoretically about him and me and us and life…that we would take a stroll down to the creek and hold hands…  But he was kissing me. One love letter, and Scout seemed to believe that we were all caught up and ready to move forward with this romance that had been taking on a life of its own inside his head.  Given our history, two decades of finishing one another’s thoughts and sentences, of seemingly sharing a brain, I’m sure we both thought we were on the same wavelength.  We could neither of us have been more wrong.

I admit it.  I panicked.  It was too sudden, too weird, and I pushed him away.  Even that would probably have been surmountable (fragile male egos notwithstanding), but the look on my face apparently sealed the deal.  And as Murphy’s law would have it, my roommate chose that moment to get home.  Of course she knew Scout—he had become something of a weekend fixture in these parts—but the tension in the air was at ridiculous levels, and Kathryn, much as we annoy each other at times, is not stupid.  Scout was mortified; his ears turned scarlet, he stammered some inane excuse, and nearly sprinted from the room. Kathryn, naturally, was certain she had interrupted some juicy impropriety.  She tried to weasel some good gossip out of my discomfiture, but I was too flustered to explain.  I put on my jacket, wandered around the campus until the early hours of the morning, and tried to pretend that nothing momentous had occurred, or if it had, that I didn’t actually care.  

I’ve often wondered how Scout spent that night.  If I could have gotten past myself, I might have seen that he was probably a lot worse off than I was.  But in the moment, I was just mad as hell—at him or at myself, I’m not really sure.

Chapter 7

I’m ashamed even now to admit it, but it was weeks before I went in search of Scout to try and make things right.  I chose the cowardly route instead—I sent a letter, trying to explain how overwhelmed I was feeling, and how I just needed time to wrap my head around this new direction our friendship was taking.  I know I should have called, or showed up on his doorstep, but there was this wall between us now that I didn’t know how to surmount.  Or if I was even ready to try the ascent.

I hate phones.  It has long been a point of contention between Scout and me.  I recognize their necessity, but don’t understand them as a recreational implement.  Phones are for communicating essential information and then hanging up.  I’ve never had the ability or desire to spend three hours gossiping about life, the universe, and everything—the whole “you hang up first; no, you hang up first” foolishness makes me slightly nauseous.  One of my short term (even for me) boyfriends had the abrasive habit of calling in the middle of the night “just to hear the sound of your voice.”  After numerous attempts to explain the illogical incongruity of calling someone who hates talking on the phone to hear the sound of her voice, I had my number changed.  All this explanation in a lame exercise to excuse the fact that I never once picked up the damn phone to apologize for, or at least try to explain, my actions and motivations on that fateful night.

In my defense, right after my last exam to complete my junior year, I hitched a ride and made my first visit to Scout’s campus in two months.  I showed up armed with chocolate, microwave popcorn, and the entire “Lethal Weapon” series.  When his roommate answered my knock, he looked bewildered.  When asked if Scout was around, his expression changed to one of chagrin.  Apparently, his roommate, my buddy, had failed to return to school after spring break.  Charlie invited me in.  The room was so empty without Scout’s stuff scattered in all the corners.  I must have looked pathetic, because Charlie sat beside me on the empty bed and put his arm around me.  There he explained as forthrightly as he could the little he knew.

Scout, apparently, had applied for a summer internship as a wilderness guide at Yosemite National Park in California.  This I already knew.  What was news to me was that not only had he been accepted, but they had called him a few weeks back and asked if he could start immediately, since they had an emergency opening for a full-time salaried position.  This must have happened right after our disastrous evening, for without a backward glance Scout dropped out of school, packed everything he owned, and hotfooted it for the West Coast.  No forwarding address.  Barely a monosyllabic muttered excuse to his parents.  And no intention of returning.  In fact, it seemed, every intention of breaking all ties with his former life and reinventing himself in an image entirely separate from me.

Chapter 8

Now I have a decision to make.  Do I respect his intentions and let him be?  Or do I follow my still-confused heart and track him down?  The problem remains that, should I find him, I still don’t know what to do with him.  But I don’t think I can in good conscience just go on with my life never knowing what might have been, what may have been meant to be.  Which is a pretty big leap from that girl who just wanted to slug him a few short weeks ago.

[continued 8/24/2005]
 It seems twisted and self-serving, but now that I can’t have him, everything seems clearer, and in hindsight I leap to the convenient conclusion that I have, in fact, loved him all along.  It’s a short trip from there to the blinding revelation that Scout is the love of my life, my soul mate, the one I have been destined to spend my life with from the very beginning.  In short, I’m a wreck.  It all seems so clear from a three thousand mile remove.My greatest fear is that, should I scurry out west and find myself face to face with the big lug, all of this new-found surety will vanish, my cowardly lion tendencies will rush back to the surface, and I’ll sprint just as quickly back from whence I came.  I can’t bear to hurt the boy again.  I would rather spend the rest of my life alone than to ever again see that wounded look on Scout’s face.And yet—can I live out my days not ever knowing? More importantly, whichever road I choose, if I choose poorly, will my best friend hate me forever?

I’m only twenty years old.  Hardly at the point where I can with any degree of confidence speak of regret and its potential to weigh down the human soul.  But I’m a reasonably smart critter, and it tears me up to think that this may be my one chance at true happiness, and I am actively engaged in blowing it.  Wouldn’t it be great now and then to have the opportunity to step outside ourselves, beyond space and time, and get perspective on the milestones in our lives?  I swear, down here in the messy reality of it all, how can we be expected even to recognize the milestones, let alone successfully run the gauntlet of the biggies?  God must have known what He was doing with this whole free will thing, but there are times when I question His judgment.  This whole mess is, in the grand scheme of things, His fault, after all—is it too much to ask that He take that omnipotence out for a spin now and then and see what it can do?  I don’t want to be a grown up!  Today I just want to be that kid in the bushes with her new-found best friend.  I want it to be simple again.  Surely an all-powerful deity can pull that off without even breaking a sweat.

I’m just going to lay here in bed feeling sorry for myself for a while, while I await the inevitable lightning bolt inspired by my blasphemy.  Now that would simplify things tremendously…  Failing that most straightforward of solutions, proverbial wisdom has it that everything will look less bleak in the morning.  I’ll believe it when I see it, but it does give me an excuse to wallow for the night.  

Section 2, Chapter 9:  Scout


© Copyright 2018 Jenipixel. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Literary Fiction Short Stories

Booksie 2018 Poetry Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by Jenipixel

The Melting Point of Time

Short Story / Literary Fiction

Across a Fold in Space

Short Story / Literary Fiction

Theatre Magic

Short Story / Literary Fiction

Popular Tags