To Tell the Truth
To tell the truth (not that anyone ever tells it completely), I liked him and no one else did.
Not that I went out of my way. I let him sit next to me on the bus when he couldn’t find another seat. Didn’t tease him. Talked to him once in awhile. A year or two younger, he wasn’t really in my sphere but I didn’t actively chase him away or sneer at him like the other kids. I thought that meant I was a good person.
Now I’m not sure. Maybe I’m not nice. Maybe I’m defective. Maybe liking him when no one else did showed a failing self-security system.
When they had her memorial at school, he came to the cafeteria where I worked alone every afternoon. I tallied milk and lunch tickets for extra credit. He wandered in and lounged against the counter. Surprised, I looked across the stainless steel surface to him.
“Why aren’t you at the gym with everyone else,” I asked.
“Didn’t like her. Felt like a hypocrite being there. Thought I’d come hang out with you.” He grinned.
Though I didn’t know how he knew I was there (It wasn’t common knowledge), I nodded. I hadn’t liked her either. She was flirty, giggly, and girlish and I was trying not to be. I could have gone to the memorial, but, in a fit of truthfulness, hadn’t wanted to lie by being there.
Our end of the campus was empty. While everyone else was busy remembering her good points, we spent an hour alone in the echoing cafeteria, talking about her bad points. He walked me to class afterwards–eager to prolong the moment when he belonged with someone.
Our high school was the town. There wasn’t much else there, certainly not a police station. Because most of the officers came from a city an hour north, the police took over a room in the library to use as a base. One day after school, he literally fell in their lap. He had wriggled into the crawl space above the room, the sound board ceiling collapsed, and he tumbled right onto the table in front of them.
Later, after he confessed to strangling her, I wondered was she like me? Was she trying so hard to be nice, she didn’t notice the wrongness of him? Or was I like him, so wrong I didn’t notice the niceness of her.
To tell the truth, I still like who I thought he was and I can’t wrap my mind around the wrongness of him but, at least I’ve come to see my resemblance to her.