The Summer of 1970
Brian W. Porter
"I am ready, willing, and able, and my phone number is – ." I was surprised when that was written in my yearbook by a willowy female who wore a green top, a dungaree jacket, and jeans. Those were clothes that said she did what she wanted when she wanted and no one told her otherwise. She had a nice Irish face with faint freckles of all things, and hair, thick hair that cascaded from her head like a strawberry blond cape, with tiny waves that flowed past her shoulders, her small breasts, and her back. To this day I love hair like that. That hair was what first got me when I saw her walking through the halls at school and wondered who she was. I never said anything though, for someone that beautiful would not notice me. I called her the night of the autograph, and thus began a relationship that lasted the summer, a summer of walking more than two an a half miles to her house, met by her halfway there; a summer of holding hands and kissing; a summer of magic. We would walk under the trees in the local woods, lay in the leaves and grass and make love, talk about everything and nothing. I would sit on the grass of a nearby park and listen to her play her guitar and sing. God, I loved her singing. Perfectly on pitch, strong but not overbearing, a voice trained for opera that would only sing folk songs. Her voice kept me mesmerized that summer. I would not sing harmony for I would only destroy the magic that she made. Occasionally she'd visit the small apartment I lived in with my mother. We'd sit in my room and talk, or listen to records. She even tuned the upright piano in the small living room, exactly flat as she said so as not to break any strings we found out later, without using a tuning fork. I remember when she took a trip with her folks in the time before cell phones, the letters she wrote that I couldn't answer because I did not have an address where she would be the next day, her description of the Georgia bugs that splattered the windshield, and how she wanted to get
back home to her freedom. I remember how she was so happy when her folks went out and we could make love in her bed "the proper way" as she would say. Once, as we gabbed on the phone, she told me she was sick with a fever and sat on the roof outside her window after dark just watching the neighborhood and enjoying the high. And I remember how we were connected. One night we were going to meet in the park by her house at midnight, but as I began walking toward there I heard her voice tell me she could not come. The next morning she called to apologize for not showing and said she tried to send me a thought message. I've known since then that, although religion is not the answer, there's more to the world than science. She taught me several things that summer, how to care for long hair, how to live, and how to love. Then she dropped out of school and my life, ran away to join an old boyfriend who had moved to Canada to escape the draft. She told me what she was doing before she left, and would not listen to my reasons she should stay. How would our lives have been different if she had stayed? Would she have married me? Would our marriage have lasted longer than her's, five years? There is no way to know. I only know that I never forgot her, or her shape, or her youth, or her hair. That wonderful hair. I looked for her several times on Facebook as I do several old friends, just to say hello, but she never appeared. A few weeks before Christmas, I was waiting with my wife in line to pay for gifts when this person walked by, a woman, with a face that looked vaguely familiar. Behind her walked a younger man dressed in a style I had seen on television a couple New Years before, who had said on TV that his mother taught him to play and sing. I wondered and watched as she walked past. Could it be? It felt right, like it was her. But she was in Canada, a citizen last I heard. If she was shopping here, then with the United States immigration laws the way they are, she was probably here illegally, even though she was only a few miles from where she was born. Then I saw her hair, no longer strawberry blond, but still a cape flowing past her shoulders. I knew that hair. There was little doubt. They looked at a few clothes, then started past again. I called her name, and was pleasantly surprised to find it was her – and my turn at the cash register. We no more than exchanged hello and a quick introduction to "my son", who looked older than I remembered from the TV, than I had to turn away. Even that short exchange felt good, as if this was the way the world was supposed to be. As I turned to pay for my purchases, I watched as she once again breezed out of my life. Yet I feel as if that connection still
remains, as if somewhere in my mind is a thread that connects her to me. A few weeks later, near mid January, on the eighteenth, I kept thinking about this girl, now a woman with a son. Every time I thought of her my eyes teared up. Why? Did she die? Did she go back to Canada? Is the connection that has lasted forty some years finally broken? Did I feel that loss? I cannot know, for I have no way to contact her. I can only hope that we will connect again sometime in the future, and hopefully face to face.
*** Other short stories, essays, and poetry from this author are available at http://www.scribd.com/Brian%20W%20Porter. *** Novels for Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008WL291M *** Copyright 2013 Attribution Non-commercial No-derivs You may share this work with anyone in any way with the following provisions. You must share the complete work, including the title and this notice. You may not make any changes. You may not use this work commercially or accept payment without the written permission of the Author. Any and all rights and credit are held by Brian W. Porter.