Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Used To Know

"Hey, Laura." I walked up to her, a single purpose in mind.

"Oh, hi, Ace." She started to turn away, distracted.

"Can I ask you a question?" Encountering no denial, I continued. "Are you doing anything later? Some friends of mine were getting together and-"

"Sorry, I'm busy."

"Anytime?" She shook her head and I looked away.

"It's not that I don't like you, Ace, but..."

"I'm not in your crowd. Fine, whatever." I shrugged carelessly, and faced her with parting words: "Just do something for me, please. Nothing big. --Just remember my name, remember my face. That can't be too hard."

She nodded and I walked away. I rejoined my "unacceptable" friends.


~

The years after high school went quickly for us, and I remained close to only those close friends. We still talked, we still got together, we still remained apart from everyone else.

For Laura, the years were long and difficult. She struggled through college, struggled through life. The crowd that she had held in high school separated, each going their own ways, each having their own struggles. She thought about him when she was most down, but couldn't remember his name or face; just his voice.

A few months before their ten-year reunion, Laura found his name in the newspaper. And on the radio, and the television, and everywhere. She saw his face and heard his voice. She remembered his name.

~

Laura called me a few days before the reunion. "Hey, Ace."

"Who's this?"

"It's me, Laura. From high school."

"Oh, you." My tone wasn't pleasing.

"What do you mean, 'Oh, you'? What happened?"

"I've been busy."

"I'll say. I got the reminder for the reunion. Will you be there? I saw something about a famous writer coming. Poetry readings. You used to like poetry, I remember. Are you going to be there?"

"Yeah, I'll be there."

"So I'll see you then." She hung up, overjoyed, and I sigh, somewhat annoyed.

~

At the reunion, my friends, still the same, gathered apart from the others. Laura came over to see us.

"Hi, Ace."

"Laura."

"Are these your friends? You guys still together?"

"Through all these year." My posture was bored. "Can I help you with something?"

"Well, I was looking for that writer, but I couldn't find him. Have you seen him? I'm eager to see who it is."

My friends start snickering behind me, and I join in with their laughter.

"Ace?"

Stifling it, I turn back to her. "Sorry. --No, I don't know."

"Do you want to do something later?"

I shook my head. "Sorry. no."

"You busy?"

"No, I'm free."

"Then why?"

"You're ten years late, Laura." I turned my back and returned to my friends. I didn't notice her leave.
About half-an-hour later, when the attendees had relaxed, and everyone who was going to show up had shown up, the class president asked for everyone's attention.

"I'm glad you all could make it, and I bet you're all eager to find out who our most successful classmate is. He happens to be our writer for this evening. I'd like you all to welcome and remember Ace Edmonds."

The room was silent as I stood, and ascended to the front of the room. I felt the room's surprised eyes on me, but I saw only my friends who had stood beside me through all the years, and were enrapt in supportive silence.

"Thank you. -Before I get started, I want to thank all my friends, for keeping close all this time, and sharing our successes with our failures." I listed the names of the few in the corner, in no particular order. "They are here at my request, didn't want to come, but I insisted, and so they are here, supporting me. I'd like you to know that all of us have been amazingly successful, each in our own genre; and I'm here tonight to give you a preview into my third book, to reminisce on some old favorites, and to celebrate an anniversary of my own. You see, ten years ago, a few days after graduation, my first book was published, and it got me well on my way to where I am today.

"I want to start with one poem I wrote while I attended this school, and still think of it as one of my best poems. ..."