Random ramblings of a mind damaged by years of disuse and abuse. Also a place to go to be bored to tears.
The Random Cartoon
Words to live by...
"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."
(The right to looseness has been officially given)
By the way... there's a crossword at the bottom of this page
Monday, August 1, 2011
Snippet of Life: Leona
There was a girl in my past. My distant past now, I guess. Leona was a sweet, pretty young lady. She reminded me of the actress, Capucine [link]. Or maybe Capucine reminded me of her, since I met Leona before I ever saw Capucine. Leona was a tragic figure in my life, a bittersweet memory. I met her when we were in the same class in 8th grade. She was too pretty for me, I thought. I thought that about a lot of girls back then. I was shy and lacking confidence around girls, like most boys of that age (13). We were friends is all.
We crossed paths several times a day at school; in the halls between classes, at lunch, in that one class we shared. We talked. She seemed sad most of the time, though that went away as we'd talk. Usually.
She came up to me in my Science class, before the bell rang. I was talking to Larry, a tall boy who was more than a year older than us, when she walked into the room. She didn't share that class with us but was headed for the Home-Ec class next door. She asked if either of us had a watch she could borrow. A strange request, I remember thinking, but decided she might need it to time some cooking. I didn't wear a watch, still don't, but Larry did and offered it to her. As she draped the too large band around her dainty wrist, I asked why she needed it.
She glanced at the watch and said with a smile, "I have less than 5 minutes to live."
My reply was to ask if she was being forced to taste her cooking in Home-Ec that day. She laughed and left the classroom just before the bell rang.
In less than 5 minutes, there was a commotion next door. You could hear the girls yelling and people running down the hall. Within 15 minutes, there were strangers running past the door to the Home Ec class... people in uniforms... ambulance attendants (as they were known then) with a gurney. Someone was hurt, injured. We thought there was some kind of accident in Home-Ec, maybe someone was burned or fell.
It turned out to be Leona. On her way out of the science class, she had grabbed a bottle of formaldehyde from the shelf by the door and drank it in the few short steps to her class. She lived. But she spent a week in the hospital recovering.
I found out months later why. She confided in me that Billy (a school "problem child") had "some pictures" of her and had been using them to coerce her into sex with him. I could believe it of Billy. He was a big kid with the reputation of being a bully, fully deserved. he had set fire to a portable classroom one weekend when he was in elementary school, it was rumored (also likely true), and had spent time at Marianna (a youth detention center in north Florida). I knew Billy pretty well and knew he was capable of what she told me.
I loved that girl... as much as a 13 year old boy can do that... but never told her. She professed her "love" for me, too, as we talked about her troubles. But I was a skinny little runt and couldn't protect her from Billy. I also knew Larry could protect her and that he was sweet on her. So I did the "right thing" and played Cupid, setting the two of them up.
Larry and Leona stayed together though I lost touch with both of them as we went to different high schools and began moving in different circles.
In 1971, after I had left the Navy and married my first wife, I moved back to Florida. back to my old "home town" of North Miami Beach. We were out shopping at a discount department store and ran into her running the cash register in the checkout lane we chose. She looked just as pretty, just as sweet and vulnerable as she did at 13. We didn't have much time to chat (there was a line behind us) but she said she and Larry had married after high school and divorced a couple of years later.
If I had not been married at that time... well, things might have turned out much differently for me, I suspect. One can never be sure, though. Just one of those "might have been"s that litter our pasts.