This story is Copyright 2002, Krystoff Vagabond.
It may be freely redistributed as long as it remains completely intact and unmodified (including these headers). I welcome comments and criticism. Please send any thoughts you have on the story to email@example.com
Alicia McDonald was a witch. Of that at least I was for certain. I've known for almost twenty years. It had to be witchcraft. There simply wasn't any other explanation. At nine years old, I knew that there was a lot I didn't know about the world, but on Friday, September 30, 1983, there were two things I was positive about. Girls were gross and Manimal was the coolest show that was ever on TV. The next day, Alicia McDonald moved in next door.
I remember that my brother Tim and I were in the back yard playing Manimal. I was three years older, so I got to be Jonathan Chase and I made him be Tyrone. Make believe games most worked out like that. I was nine and Tim was six and I basically told him what the story was and he did his best to keep up. We were just about to embark on the next great Manimal adventure when I heard a soft voice coming from the side of the garage.
"What are you guys doing?"
It was definitely a girl. Sure, some people might be fooled by the red hair cut short just below her ears, barely combed and shoved under a backwards baseball cap. The tussled bangs falling out over her long slender face. Some people might have been fooled by the way she wore faded overalls with a hole in the knee instead of one of those stupid flowery dresses, or the fact that there was dirt all over her face and she was holding a baseball and a catcher's mitt. But I was no idiot. I knew a girl when I saw one. "Nothing," I yelled at her. "You wouldn't understand." Then I turned my back and proceeded with my game. I was positive that when she saw I was ignoring her, she'd get bored and go away, but she didn't. Girls were so stupid.
"RARRRR!" Tim was on his hands and knees scratching at the grass.
"Umm, what are you doing Tim?"
"I'm turning into a wolf."
"You can't turn into a wolf. You're Tyrone. Only Jonathan can turn into things, dummy!"
"But I wanna be a wolf!" He was indignant. Hadn't he watched the same show as I had the night before? He was almost as stupid as the girl was.
"But you can't!"
"MOOOMMMMMM!" He ran inside and slammed the screen door behind him. This was just great, now the whole game was ruined.
"Brooke is soooo much cooler than Ty is anyway." The girl was talking again. Worse, when I turned around, I discovered she was actually giggling at me. My face started to go red.
"What do you know about Manimal anyway?"
"I watched it last night," she answered, "in the motel we were staying at while they were moving stuff into our new house. Wasn't it awesome?"
I was confused. A girl watched Manimal? "What's your name?"
"Alicia. What's yours?"
It had to be witchcraft you see, because, no regular girl could ever be that cool. No regular girl could ever become my best friend. But that's exactly what Alicia McDonald did. She became my best friend. She came over every Friday night and we watched Manimal together on the floor in my family's living room, and on Saturday's we reenact the previous nights episode in its entirety in our backyards. She had to be a witch, and she was using some kind of spell. Some kind of I can be as cool as a boy spell.
She shared each others pain when Manimal went on hiatus in November, and we rejoiced together when it returned on its new night, Saturday, on December 3rd. For the next three weeks we continued our tradition, now on Sundays. Me playing Jonathan to her Brooke.
Then there was that day. December 18th. Her birthday. She turned ten. The heroic Manimal saves his lady detective friend from the clutches of evil yet again. That when she, Brooke, that is Alicia... that's when she did it. She grabbed me by the ears and pulled my head up to her (she was several inches taller than me in those days) and pressed our lips together. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't sweet, our noses smashed together in the most uncomfortable way, but it was definitively a kiss. My first. Our first. I pushed her away and started spitting, trying to remove both the thought of her touch and taste of her watermelon flavored gum from my lips. "Yuck! Yuck yuck yuck! Why would you do that?"
She stared at me and started crying. She turned and ran away into her own house. The next day, I found out they cancelled Manimal.
As we got older, it became all the more clear that the spell she had cast over me must have been mystical in nature. In the summer of 1988 we'd spend Saturdays in Columbus Park where Tim and Kyle (Alicia's little brother) played Little League there, and our families would go to every game. Around the third inning Alicia and I would become bored of the game and wander off. We usually ended up lying in the grass beyond left field and looking up at the sky.
"What are you thinking about, Brooke?" We were fourteen by now, but we had never given up our childhood Manimal nicknames.
"Pepe Le Pew" she answered.
"Right there, in the clouds" she pointed her finger toward the sky and made a small circular gesture. Her prestidigitation apparently extended past amorous charms and into elemental enchantment, because the clouds seemed to swirl before my eyes, and clear as day, I knew which clouds she was talking about. The image of the cartoon skunk hung above our heads.
We sat for a few minutes in silence and watched as more cumulonimbus balls of cotton mist sailed overhead. My mind began to drift and I wondered what other shapes she was imagining. I thought that perhaps she'd see hearts or love birds. I dreamed that she dreamed of wispy cupids above our heads, or perhaps as a passing fancy she might have seen me up there somewhere. You see, by this time, nearly five years after we had met, Alicia's spells had become too much for me. I didn't know if it was some concoction of eye of newt and rats' tails or just my own growing pubescent hormones, but at fourteen, I was quite in love with Alicia McDonald. And as a consequence, I suppose, I was quite terrified of her as well. For a fourteen-year-old boy, the biggest fear in the world is that the girl of your dreams will find out you like her. I've had fourteen years since then to think about that. And you know what? It still doesn't make any sense.
"Jonathan?" Even though she called me that all the time, I was so entranced in my daydreams, trying to construct her long thing face out a passing stratus overhead, that I didn't realizes she was addressing me at first. "Jonathan?" she asked again.
"Huh? Oh yes?" I rolled onto my side to look her in eyes. Her real face was so much prettier than anything I could imagine in the sky anyway.
"Have you ever..." she began. "Have you ever, you know, liked someone? I mean, really liked them."
"Ummm..." I began to get nervous. How could she know? "I don't know. Maybe, why?"
"Well," she was clearly as uncomfortable talking about this as I was. "Well, I think I like someone. I mean, I think I like them, like them. And I think I kind of have for a long time. And, well... I'm not really sure what to do about it."
I had to think about this for a while. You must understand. The fourteen-year-old mind doesn't work the same way that of an adult. This was quite a lot of information to take in at once. And I must admit, I didn't really understand all of it, but I instinctively knew what I had to do. A lifetime of watching TV cool guys had prepared me for this. I had to stay cool. I had to be like Fonzie or John Wayne. I had to be like Manimal. I decided to offer a supportive probing question. "Do you think he likes you back?"
"Yes, well... maybe... I don't know. I mean, I think he does. But I don't know. I mean, this is all kinda weird for me. All this girly stuff. I don't know anything about dresses or makeup or perfume or anything. Guys don't like girls who aren't into that sort of stuff do they?"
You want to know the truth? Up until that point and in fact to this day, I have never once noticed a woman's make-up or perfume. At least not noticed as the focal point of an attraction. It just doesn't matter. And really, a pair of pants can be just as attractive as a dress, if not more so. Yes, I was fourteen, and yes I was more or less past that phases in my life, but for the briefest instant, I had remembered my hypothesis from years gone by. Girls were so stupid.
"I don't know," I told her. "I don't think you really need that stuff to be pretty." Ok, I was being pretty adventurous here.
"What should I do, Eric?"
Kiss me again, and let me put my hand up your shirt? I couldn't believe she was really asking me this. I knew I had to choose my words carefully. Like I said, if I had learned anything from years of primetime sitcoms, I had learned how easy it is to screw these things up. "Make sure you're ready and then go for it. When you're ready to move on, he'll be waiting for you."
"Thank you, Jonathan." She leaned over and hugged me, then, as if by afterthought, she kissed me on the cheek. We got up and walked back to our families.
The next week, I couldn't find Alicia at the baseball game. Mrs. McDonald told me that she had gone off for a walk, so I went looking for her. That's when I saw her French kissing Kevin Glenn under the bleachers.
In December of 1993 I decided to come home for Christmas break. The year before, I had gone to Connecticut with my girlfriend, Angie, to spend the holidays with her family, but we had broken up in the middle of October, so my sophomore year I didn't have anything better to do than spend the holidays with my family.
Tim had told me that heard my old friend Kevin Glenn was having a New Year's party. Since I didn't have anything better to do, I decided to check it out. It was around eleven o'clock and I had just finished my third beer when I saw her. Her hair was longer now, and she had learned to wear a dress, but she still had the same long pretty face that she had had since we were nine. I could almost imagine her in faded overalls and covered in dirt.
"Hello, Jonathan," she said to me, as though it hadn't been over a year and a half since we had last spoke.
A funny thing can happen when you're nineteen. You've grown and matured, but in some ways you're still ruled by the same hormones that began to invade your body in your preteen years. I don't know if it was the remnants of the spell she had cast on me when we first met a decade before or if it was the alcohol our underage bodies had ingested throughout the night, but by the time the clock struck twelve, we found ourselves in an upstairs bedroom. Our lips locked together as we rolled around on top of the coats of the party guests downstairs, which we had been in too much of a hurry to kick off of the bed. Our tongues rolled together and I could taste the strange mixture of beer and cheap champagne as we kissed.
Its funny, because I remember with exact detail the conversations we had about a TV show that only lasted eight episodes when I was nine-years-old, but I haven't the faintest idea how we ended up in that bedroom together a year later. All I remember is the little details of our touching. I remember pulling the spaghetti straps of her party dress from her shoulders. I remember the taste of her lips and slow journey I made nibbling down the nape of her neck to suck at the nipples of her not quite B-cup breasts. I remember being lost in the strawberry smell of her now shoulder-length hair (ok, so perhaps I do notice a woman's scent just a little bit), and I remember the touch of her slender fingers and they loosened my belt and reached inside of my pants. I remember the groping and panting and the awkwardness as she tried to pull my pants off without removing my shoes, and I desperately fumbled with her panties while trying not to released my sucking mouth from her neck. I remember only four words I said to her that night. "I love you, Brooke." And then I remember her stopping.
Somehow I knew that I had made a mistake the second I said it. But it was too late. She had let go and pulled her hand out from my shorts. She was already repositioning her dress on her chest. I had no words to speak to her, so I just reached out and put my hand on her shoulder. It was still slightly damp from the mixture of sweat and saliva of our abruptly ended passion. She brushed me away and turned to face me, tears welling up in her eyes. "Eric, I... its just... I'm sorry, Eric... I'm just not ready." She got up and ran from the room. I looked at the clock. It was 12:07.
Kyle McDonald got married in the early spring of 1997. My brother, Tim was his best man. Linda and I were seated about fifteen rows back in the friends of the groom section. In truth, I don't know that I had said ten words to Kyle in ten years previous, but we were going to be in town, and my brother was in the wedding, so it seemed only cordial to go. I believe we bought them a set of towels from their registry as a wedding gift.
Alicia was the third bridesmaid. She looked as bewitching as ever. As I was seated right next to the aisle, she noticed me as she passed and smiled. I smiled back. "Who's that?" Linda asked.
"Just an old friend." I told her.
I don't know what made me decide to attend the reunion last night. My parents moved to Florida four years ago, and I haven't really stayed in touch with anyone. Linda and I divorced almost two years ago, and I haven't really dated much since, so I attended alone. I spent a good deal of the evening talking to Kevin Glenn. He's in real estate now, he starting to lose his hair, and he's put on a bit of weight since his football days. I really shouldn't talk; I'm not exactly in the pinnacle of high school physical condition these days myself.
The reunion was as reunions go. The stuck up people are still stuck up, the nerds are still nerds, and the druggies are, well, what you would expect of druggies ten years later. I spent about half an hour talking and dancing with Janet Watson. She says we were in Bio together in the tenth grade, but honestly I don't remember her at all.
I was actually surprised when I saw Alicia. To tell you the truth, I really wasn't expecting to see her. It's not that I was expecting to not see her, but somehow, I guess I just wasn't aware of the possibility that she might or might not be there at all. She was talking to Kevin by the punch and turned and smiled at me. I excused myself from Janet and walked over to meet her.
"Hello, Jonathan," she giggled at me.
"Hi Brooke," I returned as though no time had passed at all. We spoke for hours. She told me how she had spent time after college in Europe. How she had nearly gotten married there but changed her mind at the last moment. She told me how she had gotten her Masters and started teaching. I told her about my practice, about my marriage breaking up and showed her pictures of my son, Bill.
We laughed and drank and spent nearly an hour and a half remembering Manimal (about 15 minutes into this conversation Kevin decided he had better things to do, and took his leave). It was 2AM before the cleaning staff started ushering the last of the reunion class from the hall. I helped Alicia with her coat. She turned to me and looked me in the eyes, "Jonathan?"
"I'm ready to move on, Eric"
I smiled. "I've been waiting for you, Alicia"
I extinguish my cigarette and close the motel window. I turn and see Alicia still sleeping soundly in the bed, her hair, again short, tussled and hanging over her eyes. A crooked smile across her long slender face. I wonder what she's dreaming of Manimal? Pepe Le Pew? The ingredients for her next magical potion? Alicia McDonald is a witch. That much is for certain. And in twenty years, I have never broken her spell.
©2002 - K.Vagabond Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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