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Love, Drafts, and Marcy
"Why am I here again?"
"Your mom has noticed you've been depressed and you refuse to tell her why. She wants to make sure you’re not in this alone."
“She thinks I don’t have friends to help me?”
“She no clue what kind of social life you have because you've never told her.”
"So, how are you going to help me?"
"I'm here to help you process your feelings and thoughts and help you cope and manage your stresses."
"Well, can you tell me why the hell this happened in the first place?"
"No one can tell you why it happened. I think when your dad divorced not only your mother but you as well, he left a spot that you’ve sought to fill with a more dependable, male figure."
"How is that supposed to help me?"
"It’s not necessarily supposed to. You asked a question. I answered to the best of my ability."
"What now? I’ve never had a shrink before."
"Why don't you tell me what happened from the beginning?"
Our real English teacher was on maternal leave when the school year started. As soon as we got back from break, the substitute had us write an essay about how the character, Marcy, in our assigned summer novel, fell in love with David, her mentor. I never understood how Marcy could love David, because he was like twelve years older than her. Seriously, that's just so wrong. I made sure my opinion was known during group discussion. Some girl, who is obviously not all there, started talking about how adorable Marcy and David would be as a couple. For some reason, that annoyed the hell out of me, and I was suddenly pissed. I told the dimwit it would look the same as she did kissing her father: creepy and illegal.
The substitute, Mr. Draft asked me, "Have you ever fallen in love?"
I, daring him to question a teenager's ability to love, answered honestly, "Yeah. So what?"
"Did you choose to love that person?" he asked. "Did you point to him and say 'I'm going to fall in love with you’?"
What the hell was I supposed to say to that? "Well, no."
"Exactly! Marcy didn't choose to fall in love with David. It simply happened."
Refusing to give up while I still had my dignity, I weakly muttered, "I still think she could've stopped herself."
"Maybe you're right," he said, obviously humoring me. And that was that.
I knew I needed to get that stupid essay out of the way or I'd wait until the last second and turn in a sorry excuse of a paper. I still didn't believe Marcy could seriously love David, so I did the only thing I could do: I found a loophole in the assigned topic. I ignored the love issue altogether and wrote my essay about Marcy and David’s solid friendship. After all, friendship and love are supposedly the same thing, besides the sex, right? I spent about seven hours working on a bunch of rough drafts and none of them stuck, so I had to go to Mr. Draft for help.
That's when I innocently noted he is fairly younger than most of the teachers, probably only twenty-five. He could be twenty three. He also talked like a normal person; instead of using the ancient language the other teachers spoke, he seemed to speak English.
He said the problem with my writing was that I didn't actually understand the novel and, therefore, couldn't write about it. He suggested I come in and watch the movie version during my free periods. I understood the novel fine, but I figured doing what he said would boost my grade more efficiently than telling him I didn't give a rat's ass. Needless to say, watching the movie didn't help. Especially because we ended up talking about random stuff a majority of the time as the movie became background noise.
I ended up going into Mr. Draft's classroom every day during fourth period to write, and it quickly became my favorite period. Mr. Draft became my first real friend. He always looked out for me and we told each other our opinions of anything that happened to come up in conversation. I could tell you his hobbies, goals, and frustrations. I know he's a momma's boy and didn't really climb the social ladder until he got to adulthood. He was a leader among his friends as a kid and didn't abuse their friendship the way people do now. I can tell you his favorite color is green and his job is only a shadow of what he wants to be, an author.
I can't, however, tell you when everything changed for me. Maybe it was gradual. Maybe it really was right after the dream I had of us. (I dreamed that our actual teacher came back and Mr. Draft left. At the time, it meant nothing to me. He was just that substitute that helped me write my paper. He came back to substitute for our sick teacher one day. I was crushing on some guy in my Health class at the time, but, then, I saw Mr. Draft standing in the room, as though he was waiting for me. Oh, how I wished he was waiting for me. Seeing him there was so familiar, like a baby blanket is to a crying infant. It was at that moment I realized I loved him so deeply it was as if my world had suddenly shifted itself around him.) When I woke up, I couldn't differentiate between my true feelings and the way I felt in my dream. I wasn't sure if my dream was a reflection of the desires I refused to let myself feel in reality or if it was just a dream. I'm known to have prophetic dreams from time to time. Despite my confusion, it was impossible to deny there was love lingering in my heart from the dream. It was just as I remembered it. I craved love once again.
Let me just say, my ex-boyfriend is a total asshat. All he did when we were dating was get high and tell me what a good boyfriend he was and that any other guy would've left me forever ago. The only reason I didn't leave was because I loved him more than I thought possible. It was a passionate infatuation forged by the make-out sessions we had when his parents weren't around. With Mr. Draft, it's more like the love you find in a lovey-dovey, tear jerking movie where the girl sees the beauty in a boy's heart and loves him because he's nice to her. It's the sweet, soft, based-on-common-interests love. There's nothing dirty about it.
Anyway, fourth period with Mr. Draft quickly became the reason I went to school, dressed nicely, and bothered learning the material in class. I wanted to impress him. He's the kind of guy that not only respects a girl’s intelligence but enjoys it. Even though he doesn’t want a bimbo that can’t hold up a conversation, boys will be boys and beauty will always be a priority whether they say it is or not. That's why I made sure to dress to impress in the morning.
I spent three weeks on that damned essay and couldn't write anything that was good enough to show him. My real problem was that my original idea of friendship and love being the same thing was wrong because there’s no “besides the sex” about it. Love is based on friendship and has nothing to do with sex. I’d made my breakthrough but had no idea what to do with it, so I pinned it up in the back of my head until I figured out how to use the information while writing.
Finally, as I was thinking about how hopeless my dream was, I understood what I was supposed to write about. I realized my essay was so much more than a regular trying-to-pass English paper. It was going to be a confession of my love. More of a subtle hint, actually. I became Marcy and Mr. Draft was David. I was able to empathize with Marcy in a way I never thought possible and I poured all the truths of my heart into my confession/subtle hint via Marcy's words.
I wondered if Mr. Draft would realize what the essay was truly about. I wasn’t sure I wanted him to. What if he understood and rejected me? What if he was disgusted by my love for him and rejected not only my affection but my friendship, too? I needed him. He had no idea how much I required a friend in a world where everyone is beyond judgmental, and I'm the only one who can't fit their standards. He didn’t understand that he was all I had. But, then, I thought maybe I had no reason to worry, because what if he realized what the essay was about and felt the same way? Then it occurred to me, teachers can't date students. It's illegal. I couldn't even begin to hope to get that far, anyways. I wouldn't let myself hope and be let down. Looking back, I know I was in denial. By turning the assignment in, I was still allowing myself to hope despite the disappointment that was sure to ensue.
I recognized that he might not even realize I was writing about him. About us. If he didn't figure it out, I'd lose nothing. But there would be nothing to gain, either. Which scenario would be the worst? None of them seemed to have a happy ending. Still, I turned in the essay after a month of writing and rewriting.
I didn't dare speak to him outside of class for the next week. I didn't let myself accidentally on purpose run into him in the hallway. I didn't raise my hand in class or make small talk before class. I waited until the end of the week when the assignment was returned. I ended up acing it, but the grade didn't matter. The comments did.
They were the same old boring comments about my grammar and writing style. They were the type of comments that English teachers are required to give so that nobody gets their feelings hurt. Eventually, I got to the last note: it read, "You obviously took this paper very seriously and have empathized with Marcy perfectly. However, you failed to mention David's reaction to Marcy's feelings. The novel shows he loved her dearly but could not love her as anything more than a friend." It took me a moment to comprehend it because I was so stunned.
Embarrassed and heartbroken, I put on my best poker face. I looked up and saw him watching me. I gave him my best happy-I-got-an-"A" smile and asked to use the restroom. Before he could answer, I was up, grabbing the pass, and walking toward the door. The second I was out, I ran to the bathroom crying through my humiliation and disappointment. Because my eyes were red and puffy, and I didn’t want people thinking I had been crying, I made some pathetic excuse about being sick and asked to go to the nurse. I left the room and haven't spoken to him since.
"How did Marcy feel when David rejected her?"
"I’d say she was angry. She ended up violently murdering him. She literally carved his heart out of his chest and put it in a box with a friendship bracelet around it. She decided to do to him what he did to her. That is, he ripped out her heart and put it in the friend zone."
"Why aren't you angry the way Marcy was?"
"I still love him. He’s my friend first and foremost. I could never intentionally hurt him."
“You think if yourself as Marcy.”
“Maybe you were right that first day. It’s possible Marcy wasn’t truly in love with David. More than likely, she was unhealthily obsessed with him for whatever reason.”
“That doesn’t change my situation.”
“No, but hopefully you’ll distinguish your future from Marcy’s. Because of her obsession, she couldn’t take no for an answer. You want what’s best for Mr. Draft. That’s why you’ll move on and life will carry on as usual.”
“How am I supposed to move on when our relationship is now shattered without a hope of recovering the friendship we once had?”
"Didn't Mr. Draft's comment on your paper give the impression of a still existing friendship?"
"I don't know. I was a bit busy reading the impression of rejection."
"Maybe you should try to take notice of the positive aspects of a situation. Our session's almost over. How about your assignment for the week is to take at least one seemingly bad thing a day and attempt to see the good in it?"
"What am I supposed to do about Mr. Draft?"
"If you can, and I believe you can, try to be polite. Treat him as you would any other teacher, for now."
"Fine, I'll see you next week."