The Girl I Never Knew

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
For Jenny.

Submitted: February 18, 2015

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 18, 2015



I never knew Jenny Sanders, but hardly a day goes by that I don’t think of her. She was a year behind me in high school. As far as I knew, she and I were never in any classes together. We had no mutual friends. In fact, I never met her. Unless, during the course of a school day, I had accidentally bumped into her (or her into me) in between bells as we headed to class. But if we did, I don’t remember. But still I think of her.

She had graduated a year after me. I went on to college after my graduation and during that summer, after my college freshman year, I had noticed a news report about her in the local paper. According to the brief report, Jenny had gone down to a place called Stone’s Edge in Mexico. That was a favorite destination for high school and college kids to party.

While down there, Jenny had drowned. She was only 17. The story basically ended like that. Oh, it mentioned she had just graduated from high school and the names of her parents and of any brothers or sisters she may have had. I don’t remember much else it said. Again, I didn’t remember Jenny. But after I had read the article, I do remember getting out my Senior high school yearbook and looking her up. And there she was.

Jenny was pretty. Her hair was dark and long, parted straight in the middle, like so many other girls had their hair styled back in those days. She smiled slightly, as if she were trying hard not to smile and the photographer was encouraging her with a little joke or something. I’d always like to imagine her breaking out into a giggle just after the picture was taken.

But I still didn’t recognize her. I checked the yearbook to see if she participated in any extracurricular activities or belonged to any clubs. I only found one group she belonged to. It was called “The Group.” It was kind of a save the world, promote peace and human understanding type club. There she was again, posing in the “Group’s” group photo.

The entire club was kneeling on the ground. She was on the far right, wearing a floppy fishing hat and a white pull over sweater. Her right hand was hanging onto the brim of the hat, as if maybe the hat belonged to someone else and they may have just placed it on her head as a joke, or it was her hat and someone, as a joke, threatened to pull it over her face and she was hanging on to prevent that from happening. Either way, she looked cute.

Jenny still had that slight smile on her face. Like she wanted to smile but was too embarrassed. Maybe she wore braces. I don’t know.

One thing I did notice was that on the far left of the picture was someone I did know. His name was Robert. He had been in some of my classes. Someone, that if I ever ran into, I could of asked about Jenny. But after graduation, I never saw or heard anything about Robert again. I don’t know why, but I somehow felt comforted that someone I did know knew Jenny.

I looked back in my other yearbooks for her picture. Her hair was shorter in her freshman year. A little longer and just brushing her shoulders by the time she was a sophomore. But her ever slight smile was always there.

Another year went by and I still occasionally thought about her. Not in any obsessive way, its just that she would, for no real reason, just pop into my mind from time to time. Sometimes it was only for a tenth of a second. Or, if I happened to see a girl  walk by that I thought resembled her.

Then one time I was talking to a friend of a friend when, I don’t remember why, but I had brought up about this girl who went to my high school and had drowned down in Mexico. He asked me what her name was. I told him and he said he had known her! I asked him the only question I could come up with at that time. What exactly had happened?

He said she had gone down to Mexico with some friends to celebrate her graduation. She and her friends had taken scuba lessons, so they were going to go diving. She had gone down about 30 feet or so and either had run out of air, or her air tanks had somehow malfunctioned, so she panicked and tried to reach the surface but had passed out and drowned.

He said that was about all he knew. He did say she was a nice and sweet girl. I was glad he said that. In my mind, she always was. So I now had a wisp of a narrative. Again, I don’t know why after all these years, but I still think about her. I guess because she was from my high school. Because she had died so young. Because she had her whole life in front of her. Because she was just planning to go down to Mexico and have a little adventure. To have some fun. Not to die.

I wonder what her life would of been like had she lived? She would have probably been married by now. Be a mom. Have a career. I imagine out there is some guy or guys, who would have dated Jenny, who would have been her boyfriend, for maybe a short or even longer time.

And out there is one guy, who is also probably married by now with a family of his own, who would have been the one to have met and fallen in love with Jenny and she would have fell in love with him. They would have married. Had kids. If she had lived.

That guy will never know her, will never know she ever existed. As for me well, I never knew her but I do know she existed. I have seen the photographs. Read the newspaper article. Met someone who did know Jenny.

Again, I can’t help myself. I just think about her every once in awhile, that’s all.

© Copyright 2018 Phillip Paul Pettigrew. All rights reserved.

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