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I Called Him Tom
When I was 17, I met a man named Thomas Franklin. I called him Tom. It was a hot summer day in 1909 when we met; I was in a diner with my good friend Helen; we were fanning our naked necks, talking about something I can no longer remember. He was a busboy who had served us our drinks, his name tag reading as 'Thomas.' He was tall and gangling and his brown hair was combed and orderly. He gave Helen her cold drink and gave me my milkshake. We made eye contact and he asked me how my day was; I nervously said “Fine.” I don’t usually talk to boys. Everyday after that I visited that diner, come heck or high water. Everyday I had hoped Thomas would serve my table, and everyday he did. Everyday he asked me how my day was, every day I answered “fine.” But as the weeks passed, I found myself asking how his day was, and we started to exchange pleasantries. “My name is Meredith, but everyone calls me Mary.” “I'm Thomas, as you can see from my name tag,” he had said. But I called him Tom. I'm not sure why, he did not introduce himself that way, but he didn't seem to mind. He actually told me he liked it, he said that no one has ever called him that before. Everything about him seemed amazing. His smile was crooked and charming, his laugh was barking but contagious, and his mud colored eyes were expressive and sparkling. He was so unlike me; my smile was deep dimpled, my laugh seemed too high pitched, and my green eyes seemed dull under my light eyebrows. Where his hair seemed to be combed and nicely styled, mine was tied back into a frizzy bun; I spent most of my pocket change at the diner so I couldn't get the stylish bob haircut that all the other girls had. But I didn't care. I found myself only caring about each conversation we had, whether it was about jukeboxes or President Taft, what was on the radio or what our favorite book was. It was the best time of my life. And before the end of August of 1909 he asked me on a date. Before the end of January of 1911 he asked me to marry him. We planned to get married in May-- I had always wanted a spring wedding. It was to be small, neither of our parents had much money, and neither did we. But we were happy just to be with each other. At least I thought we were happy. It was late April, a few weeks before the wedding; and I was a bundle of nerves. I was excited though, for I was getting married to the love of my life in less than a month. But then Tom seemed to go missing. At first I thought he was with his friend, George. I knew George lived in Seattle, a few hours from here, so I assumed he went up there to visit for a few days; it wasn't abnormal, Tom did it every couple months. But as time passed, it grew clear that no one knew what happened to Thomas Franklin. A search was conducted, but there was nothing to go from. All of his things were still in his room, nothing packed, nothing missing. Tom just seemed to have got up and left Washington. Left me. At first I didn’t understand. People I did not know seemed to know me. I had become ‘that poor girl’ that older ladies would talk about as they got their hair permed.
I refused to believe he was gone. He wasn’t. He wasn’t.
So I waited.
Days passed and the talk about him dissipated. Weeks passed and people who cared seem to dwindle. Months past and people moved on, years passed and people seemed to no longer remember Tom.
I was by myself.
Its been 25 years since then, and people would like to think that I have moved on, seeing that I now have a husband.
Neil and I met in the library where I read books a lot; a passion that I got after Tom left.
It was a good way to escape.
One cold evening, Neil asked me out for coffee, his freckled face red and his blue eyes avoiding mine. I accepted.
He and I dated for 6 months, and then asked me to marry him. I accepted.
I never told him about Tom, my mother said that I should just leave it alone; that I shouldn’t burden my new fiancé.
And before I knew it, the time for the wedding ceremony arrived.. It was in the beginning of winter. The ceremony was beautiful, but didn’t suit my aged 37 year old face.
I wanted to leave. But when the time came, I said “I do.”
Time went by, and before I knew it I was pregnant; the doctors told me that both me and the child’s life was at risk because of complications due to my age.
Neil told me I should try to have the child; so I tried.
My belly grew and everything seemed to go smoothly.
In the beginning of spring, I had a baby boy. A lifeless baby boy that the doctor called a 'still born.' Something that the call in doctor told me couldn’t be helped.
As the he left the room, he told me I could name the baby so I had something to put on the tombstone.
I called him Tom.