Seventeen Months, Twenty-One Days, Five Hours, Six Minutes & Forty-Eight Seconds of a Relationship Chapter 1

“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."
"You''re lying."
"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.”
“Drama club?”
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 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., I hate to describe her like'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.
“Yeah, Ma?”
“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?
“Not bad.”
“Not bad?”
“Not bad.”
“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?”

Our drive into town was quiet as I was sure that she was going to ask me more questions about my first day and then I would have to mention Julia—because I know I would have—her name would just come out and I’d repeat it over and over and Mom would either quiz me on her or say just shrug her shoulders and comment on my infatuations with girls in the past.
And she would be right.

I always had a love at first sight kind of thing with girls. I mean I would have this great plan for us and it would all unfold in my brain like it was projected on an IMAX screen—complete with the feeling that I was going to fall over a canyon. The only issue was that I seldom, okay, never, really went and followed through with asking them.

Granted, when you’re in fourth grade you don’t and would never understand relationships. You could look across the classroom and the playground and see she’s cute. Maybe she has a “swell” personality. Perhaps she wears some kind of perfume or maybe it’s just the conditioner in her hair.
But you rack your rain because you don’t understand what do after that.

Same thing occurred every year with seventh grade being the time that I should have just walked up to one of them and ask her but no, instead I decided that it would never happen and I didn’t want to look at her each day and feel miserable because she said no.
So, I never did and still felt miserable because she could have said yes.

Before we moved, I kept the same mindset, but after the move to Reardan I decided I would go ahead and take that plunge so I guess that’s why I just decided to talk with Julia.

“What are your going to tell her?” Mom asked from across the table.
We sat at a rather large table at a restaurant called “Cathay Inn”, each with a plate of General Tsao’s chicken with rice.

“I just met her. Maybe I’ll let her talk.”
Mom nodded but then her eyes went stern. “She is not allowed at the house when I’m at home.”
“Okay,” I replied,
“I mean it. Last thing we need is for her parents to come over with the pitchforks.”
“I get it, Mom. I do. That was a mistake.”
“Yes, one we’re not going to repeat.”
“This is Washington state, not Alabama.”
“People, can be idiots wherever they’re at, right?”
I only nodded.

The mistake in question came about when I went to an impromptu party down the street, “hosted”—and I use that word lightly, by a senior I didn’t know. The ratio of girls to guys was mixed and so was the alcohol. I’m not sure how much I had to drink but I recall waking up next to a half-naked girl. I checked if I had all of my clothes on, and I did.
I then did something that any guy my age should have done: I I jumped up, ran into the door, opened the door and ran out of the room.

I ran into what looked like the next day on a booze battlefield with everyone lying around in various degrees of undress. It took a few seconds for me to stand up straight without feeling like I wanted to hurl, and then, I was out the front door.

Came home and went to bed, no issues, right?

Yeah, well, that afternoon the police showed up to ask me a few questions about a rape that occurred at the party. You know those times when you have a dream that’s so vivid or that memory that’s so cloudy that you’re not sure if it actually occurred or not? The police made me spill me guts about the party: from when I got there to how many cups of what kind of alcohol I had. Mom’s expression ran the gauntlet of pissed, shocked, disappointed and then relieved after I told her I woke up and hightailed my butt out of there.

The police left, but I kind of wished they had stayed as then I had to put up with my mom screaming at me and I just sat there taking it because a part of me regretted even going but the other part regretted leaving that girl in the state she was in.

I felt scared and pathetic either way.

It was a history that I would never have wanted to repeat.

I would have done it differently.

I would have tried to save the girl.

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