A few scenes of my elementary school “boyfriend” Brian. Instead of being really detailed on one, I decided to combine a few different ones together.
It was recess time and most of the other second-graders were running around throwing tanbark or fighting over the pull-up bars. The rest of us were waiting in a long line trailing up the tall silver slide’s stairs. At the top there was a big handle we’d all swing from to go faster but some kids would hang from it and slam the heels of their shoes into the metal. It would make a loud obnoxious BANG that echoed down the slide as they’d compete to see who could do it the loudest. The whole thing annoyed me because some of us just wanted to use the slide for actual sliding and with all the extra waiting there wasn’t enough time to have more than one turn before the bell rang.
I decided it wasn’t worth it this time and instead went and waited for a turn on the swings. I watched my friend Brian pump his skinny blue-jeaned legs higher and higher as he swooshed through the air. He pushed his elbows in front of the chains and reversed the grip of his hands as he prepared to jump. I remember thinking he was too high and going too fast but I couldn’t stop him. As the swing carried him forward for the last time, he jumped into the air and landed sideways in the tanbark. The shock of his landing was instantly clear across his twisted face. I had never seen a boy cry, let alone seen any kid cry that hard. He was screaming in pain and I started crying as I watched the yard duty lady carry his limp little body towards the nurse’s office. I quickly followed behind her while trying to wipe the blurriness from my eyes. The ambulance got there fast and he was taken to the hospital while I stayed stuck at school filled with nausea. Everyone was terrified wondering what was going to happen to him.
Two days later mom took me to see him in his surgery recovery room at the hospital. It smelled like carrots from the dinner tray sitting next to his bed. He was groggy but excited to see me. I cautiously walked over to talk to him, careful not to bump his swollen leg which was propped up in a holster and had a huge pin sticking out through the knee. “Does it hurt?” I asked, cringing. “No, I’m ok!” He was unusually cheery for being in a hospital bed, probably from the medication. I signed a heart on his temporary cast and then it was time to go home because the nurses needed to help him bathe.
I wouldn’t see him in class again before summer and neither of us would return to that school at all when fall arrived. His mother sued the school after his accident and my mom, in an unrelated decision, decided to start homeschooling me. Despite her lawsuit, Brian’s mom disagreed with my mom’s decision to pull me out of public school. They had a very heated argument over it in the Safeway parking-lot that September. I wasn’t allowed to play at Brian’s house anymore which was devastating because he had been like a “boyfriend” to me since kindergarten. He was always painting cute “I Love You” pictures and had even given me a little silver chain in a red velvet box. Just sweet little kiddy-romance things that I would miss dearly.
The following month, despite their argument, Mom agreed to take me by his house on Halloween night. I could smell the neighborhood’s smoky fireplaces and wet asphalt as I stepped out of the car. With my red dress and white feather boa I carefully climbed the three flights of stairs outside their tall brick house while Mom waited in the volvo. I knocked on the metal part of the screened door as I peek inside the window. His dad opened it and I shyly squeaked “Trick or Treat.” I tried to look behind Daryl, my eyes searching for a sign of Brian, but he wasn’t there. I collected a piece of chocolate, put my head down, and sadly walked back down the stairs. As I climbed back into the car Mom glared at me. “Well?? Did you say hi to him?”
I pulled the door closed and looked out the window. “No, his dad answered the door.”
“So!?” She started the car, “You should’ve asked for him.”
I kept my head down, trying to gulp away the big lump rising in my throat.
Mom turned off the car. “Go back up there and ask for him, who knows when you will see him again.”
I set my candy bag on the floor and jumped out of the car. I ran up the steps, adrenaline propelling me faster than last time as my stomach filled with butterflies.
I got to the door and nervously knocked again. I took a few steps back, feeling embarrassed to be standing there a second time. “Hello again” his dad said through the screen.
“Hi, uh..is Brian here?” I asked.
“Yes, hang on, he is watching a movie. I’ll get him.”
I waited patiently, tempted to run back down the stairs and into the car. Then Brian limped out onto the front porch. He said hi and stared at me like he was expecting me to do a magic trick or something. I said hi back and we hugged each other. “I really miss you,” he said. I told him the same and then Mom honked the car horn. “I gotta go, Happy Halloween” and with that I went back down the stairs with a grin of relief. It would be four years before I would see him again.