I sat in algebra. My eyes plowing foreword, fixed on steel strings not looking to my sides. I could see Kara though. Flipping her shiny shell of caramel hair from side to side so it fluttered on and off her shoulders. I could see her eyes, two glistening orbs of amber moisture, narrow into half moons and I could hear her whisper. The whisper was faint and musical like a strangled laugh and I saw her neck twist as she looked in my direction and her glare burned. It sizzled into my eyes and I was sure that at that point I was branded as the single force of evil in Caitlin Barrow’s perfect life. Caitlin smoothed out the creases in the microscopic terrycloth skirt that was identical to the skirts her five giggling friends were wearing that day. She picked up her pen and flung her tiny white hand across her lined paper making perfect swirls of handwriting in corkscrewing cursive. And then perfect Caitlin Barrow folded up her paper in a perfect paper airplane and with the graceful yet potent flick of her perfect wrist sent it flying under the desks of the five people between us so it landed and the perfectly creased tip hit me right in the leg. When I looked up there she was as if nothing had happened. Caitlin Barrow the teachers pet and juvenile delinquent. Before the teacher could answer the question Caitlin Barrow’s long arm unfurled gracefully into the air her manicured nails thrown back luxuriously her nutty brown bob crumpled demurely by her raised shoulders. I cautiously slid my thumb under the creases of the airplane and smoothed it out against my knee. The fat bubbly handwriting and i’s dotted with little stars were all too familiar and I shoved it into my pocket without reading it. The bell rang and she started walking in my direction. She didn’t walk the way I would with my gawky limbs splaying out, but in a tight dagger straight walk with swinging hips. Her gloss slicked lips curled back revealing her perfect teeth and she shoved me discretely into my desk and whisked of but not before I heard her laugh shrilly to her best friend Cathy. “I hate her… she’s still not over it can you believe…” and the voices merged with the crowd of screaming kids in the hallway becoming muddy and distant. They were so stupid. They didn’t know pain. I tried not to think of Charlie and her smiling face and whisper of red hair but the memory pushed back and the tears came. For the first time since May 18, I could see the Avery Paper truck with the blaring horn and her scream mixing with my own till it was one sound, till we were one person. I could hear our cry, like the sound of metal crumpling and glass crackling, breaking. I took out the note and read it silently tears staining the page and making the ink run. “It should have been you.” I bit my lip because I knew it was true. I pictured Caitlin Barrow so carefree, popular. I used to have that. Now I would be set aside like a freak under constant examination, I would be forever know as the girl who should have died.
December 18, 2009