The little girl around the corner

I used a fat green marking pen to scratch out the picture of my friend on our third grade class photo.  Then I ripped it so violently that it tore away half the faces of the little boys next to it too.  I must have done it before I got home that day.  My mother surely wouldn’t have let me play with the photo once I’d brought it into the house, but I don’t remember exactly.

I thought this little girl and I were friends.  We played jacks and she came to my birthday parties.  She had a little blue dress that I liked and we shared our Barbie dolls.  We climbed trees and rode bikes and swam in her pool together.  We were good friends.

I have a lousy memory.  I always have.  If you know me when I’m old, remember that when the doctors think I’m getting Alzheimer’s.  I can’t ever remember things and it really disturbs me that I don’t recall why I scratched out this sweet child’s picture.  I am worried that I am repressing a memory about her…or myself.  Was I a mean girl?  Was I one of those demon children the other moms feared would damage their sensitive babies?  My grown-up girlfriends talk about those kids, the ones who make their pre-teen daughters cry or act hatefully toward someone else.  I’m scared to think I might have been one of them, a mean girl.  Maybe I thought my friend’s braces weren’t cool or her hair was too curly or something.  What could it be?!

She used to live a few streets away from our house.  Her mom still lives in the neighborhood and even takes walks past my mom’s place on occasion.  I used to get an update from time to time.  Our moms would talk and I would hear that my friend had moved or been ill or gotten a new job, but I haven’t heard anything in a while and suddenly I am possessed with curiosity.  I want to ask my friend what evil thing I said or did to end our friendship and incur her wrath or cold shoulder.  I have to find out why I defaced that photo!

I did see her once at the supermarket.  She was sitting at a table selling girl scout cookies with her daughter or someone.  We were both distracted and short on time, so we said hello, but exchanged no information.  She looked very different from the girl I remembered, but I knew her just the same and I felt happy to see her.  I thought she felt the same way, but now I’m not so sure.  Maybe her demeanor was more that of someone trapped by circumstances.  She was planted at the table and I was walking right at her.  She had no way to escape, so she made the best of it…I think.  Or maybe she was glad to see me.  I may never know for sure.

I found the class picture last week, so this has been weighing heavily on me for days.  I can’t seem to shake that feeling that I may not have been nice to this girl.  I know that it’s entirely possible that we drifted apart as any childhood pals might, even those who still live in close proximity, but I fear much worse has happened.  I feel somehow that I may have contributed to an unpleasant childhood for a perfectly nice person.  Cross your fingers and pray that I am wrong!

6 thoughts on “The little girl around the corner

  1. You are so wrong – you would never be mean to the point of rubbing out a girls face. I am going with – she was mean to YOU and you were just upset so then you green markered her face!

  2. You weren’t an angel and not a demon, you were a typical little girl. As far as defacing the yearbook — remember, summer was LONG. We’d get bored. The Young and the Restless was only 30 minutes back then…lots of hours to kill. So arguments would happen, feuds would begin. Yearbooks were looked through, comments re-read, faces got devil horns, mustaches, and occasionally x’ed out…

    The interesting thing is this idyllic picture of friendship you paint, then the violent ripping of her picture. Maybe you were a perfect friend, but had inner resentment…the actions and the memory don’t seem to gel, do they? Then again — maybe your guilt is that she was a marginal friend and the friendship ended because you had no further use for her — it sounds cruel, but it is the reality of childhood friendships. And it’s fine.

  3. Becky, I knew you all through elementary school.You didnt have a mean bone in your body. Don’t be so hard on yourself, I remember that any little thing could be blown out of proportion with friends back then. One day I was “best friends” with one girl, next day not speaking……who can remember why??? Just all part of growing up, so many insecurities back then!

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