I start with a poem I wrote in high school.
Once, I knew a snake.
Who slithered and sneaked about.
His mouth watered when he saw me,
In anticipation to bite.
He got a chance,
He took it,
But the poison got him instead.
Now I am left with a festering wound,
One that forever stains,
No, I was not bitten,
But a wound of the soul never heals.
Then the teacher announced we’d be reading them aloud. I stayed after class to beg out of it. I felt the red, heated flush and heavy tongue. I wished my pen never wrote it. I was still ashamed then. The poem was hard enough to write, reading it, possibly having to explain what I meant made me want to run and hide. He loved the poem and thought it needed reading. I managed to explain why, awkward and near tears.
We compromised on an anonymous reading by him, he insisted the poem was great and needed reading. When he read it, I felt the blush alone gave me away. I wished I’d faked being sick. In hindsight, if anyone figured it out, it was likely only because I never read my poem aloud (though skipping me wasn’t plain as day). Then the teacher asked us what we thought the poem meant.
I only remember one explanation, offered by the girl in front of me, whose perfume always gave me allergy attacks. On the plus side, it amused me that Matt Butchko always said “Bless you” with a smile, even if it was about twenty times in one day. I remember smiling pathetically once and telling him he’d be saying that all day with an allergy attack. He smiled and merely said, “Bless you,” again when I sneezed soon after. Sorry for the tangent, but that guy was awesome.
In fact, forget the stupid poem, it’s depressed me all night and made it hard to sleep. Perfume girl in front of me said she thought it was a break up poem about how the writer’s boyfriend dumped her but she got back at him in the end. That made me want to cry, but I bit my lip and stayed quiet. The poem is really about the man who molested me and how our pastor found out and banned him from the church grounds. I changed heart to soul based on that girl’s feedback.
Back to Matt, an infinitely more awesome guy. I occasionally wonder what’s become of him. I hope he’s happy. I probably sound like I crushed on him. Oddly enough, I didn’t, but I definitely liked him, it’s hard not to like a guy who seems genuinely nice and happy with everyone he meets. Don’t get me wrong! If he’d asked me out, a bewildered yes would follow the silent surprise; I just remember thinking he was that nice to everybody. A case of well-deserved popularity. I still think he was just a genuinely nice guy though, despite someone (been too long, can’t remember who) telling me they thought he “like-liked” me.
In particular, I remember our P.E. pickel ball match (honestly, it may have been tennis or badminton; I love all three games and find them similar enough). I think we ended up with the longest match in class. If I remember, we were even playing passed the time class ended, trying to see how we should place. I’m unsure about that last part. Either way, it was so much fun!
Perhaps he was going easy on me, but I didn’t get that sense during the match. Both of us made several really good returns. I felt evenly matched with friendly challenge, then my weakness struck. Stupid weak ankles. I moved to return and the excess cartilage coating my ankle bones caused me to spill in a clumsy heap to the floor (doctor once said it should also protect me from ever breaking my ankle, so there’s that) .
He rushed forward in concern and offered a rematch when, highly embarrassed at my weakness, I tried to explain the stupid weak ankle thing. I think he tried to help me up too (the clutz moment embarrassed me so much I just wanted to retreat). I declined the rematch. Playing against him was quite fun, but ultimately, he won, and mostly, I didn’t want him to think I pulled a cheap chick trick for sympathy or to avoid giving him a real win. I limped over to the bleachers where a friend proclaimed my brilliance.
Brilliance? What is she talking about? At my look of confusion, she clarified.
“Your ankle just happens to go out after a long match, leaving Matt fawning over you in concern. I can’t believe he fell for it.”
Yeah…somehow, that made it worse. I wonder how many other people think I faked weak ankles for attention. Trust me, it frickin hurts, it makes me look clutzy, and I’m nearly always highly embarrassed when it decides to spill me over. It gets worse in high heels. Flats are my friend.
Matt, if you ever find this post, thanks for the awesome match…and all the “Bless yous.” I really did want another match, but only because the first was so much fun. Also, I hope your life is awesome, I think you deserve it!
Perfume girl, I mean you no offense, sorry I forgot your name. I think it was Jodi. Blame it on my allergies, I sneeze so hard I kill brain cells with each one.
Finally, wounds of the soul heal. It just takes longer. I’ll tell you about it some other time.