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!