Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Little History

November 29

Dear Wichita,

I can't help but think of Mary lately, especially after paying for that girl's bagel. The promise of youth, yet to run the gauntlet of risks that life entails, so ignorant of the game of life, a game of chance.

You know Mary didn't mean to hit those kids right? I know, I know she was drunk and high and probably couldn't find her way out of an empty room. I was amazed that throughout the whole trial no one ever wondered who started the car in the first place. I guess it wasn't a big deal, the end result was the same. Who knows, maybe Mary managed to start the car herself. I doubt it, but then again.

It is that fragility of youth, that shattered persona in a crowded bagel shop, that can go either way, into the abyss of meth or the ivory towers of college. Even so, I don't think anyone suspected Mary's downfall. Girls like her aren't supposed to end up serving time and carrying guilt. They're supposed to marry and have two point five kids and a minivan to go to soccer games and PTA meetings.

I knew that she was into it pretty good, we all were. All those weekends that slipped into Wednesdays. Maybe that's your fault Wichita, not giving us options but giving us unrestricted college freedom. It still feels better to blame someone else. That's how my generation is, you know.

I still have flashbacks, old pictures of Mary that run through my head even though it has been over a year since the trial. Mary swimming naked in the river, laughing in the moonlight. Mary sweet talking the cops, getting herself or someone else out of a jam. Mary studying, her blond hair falling about her face, her brown framed glasses reflecting sunlight onto her tanned arm. Mary standing in that fake-wood docket, her blond hair pulled back into a ponytail, eyes wet from tears. Looking pale as the victim impact statements were read aloud. All five of them.

Mary being led away by the bailiff, the sacrificial lamb for our hedonistic ways. The brief second of eye contact we shared, holding a moment in time where we knew we were over, everything was over and would never be the same again.

Mary on the front page of the newspapers, looking destroyed.

I thought about Mary yesterday as I watched that girl carry her bagel to a corner table.

I wondered what path her life would take, what kind of friends she hung out with, what kinds of pressures she was under and how she would cope with them. I wondered if she would have to move to a different city to find space and a sense of anonymity. Or if she would be ok, a picture on her mother's mantle.

I looked in the mirror last night, not for any sense of fashion or togetherness, but for my soul. I wondered what kind of boyfriend let's his girl go driving when she isn't even wearing shoes. I wondered what kind of guy shifts himself into the shadows while his supposed love is bathed in the harsh light of tv cameras. I wondered what kind of college dropout stands idly by as his girl takes all the blame. The same kind of guy that rides a three AM bus out of town, wearing a low hat.

I looked away. There aren't too many of us that can stare ourselves down in a mirror, but I guess I'm one of them.

The sky outside is dark and misty, casting odd grey light into my apartment. I'm laying on my twin sized bed, staring up at the ceiling, through the ceiling, a thousand yard stare. A siren in the distance sends a little shiver down my back.

If you can, Wichita, tell Mary I'm sorry. I'm sorry for the whole fucking thing.

Tell her I'll write her sometime.

Christ. I shouldn't have gone here tonight.



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