dontravis.com blog post #343
|Courtesy of Pixabay|
I hope you enjoyed Mark Wildyr’s River Otter post last week. If so, let him know at email@example.com.
This week, I’d like to a do piece of flash fiction about some kids growing up and going through the difficult process of discovering who they are. I suspect more of us are ambivalent about these things than we suspect. After all, just because the other fellow acts so confident of himself doesn’t mean he always is. So let’s get about it.
ME’N MAZIE AND NIGEL
I’d known Nigel Blaine ever since we were both in diapers. I’d grown up watching him learn to crawl—before I did—and toddle around on two legs and get out of diapers—again before I did. I was there when he hit his first homerun and made his first basket and dated his first girl. Need I say… all before I did.
Looking back at it now, I think it was safe to say that I was in love with Nigel. It was good having the best-looking guy in town grow up two doors down from me on High Street. How did he feel about it? He was always saying, Blake, you’re my best friend. That’s a high honor, but somewhere down inside me, I was hoping for more. More what? I didn’t have a clue.
Mazie Angelicus and her family moved in next door three years ago. For the first twelve month, I just looked past her house to see if Nigel was home. Whenever we’d be outdoors tossing the ball or simply sitting on the porch swing ragging one another, she’d show up to contribute her two cents. An interloper of sorts.
Then last year, she did this Jekyll and Hyde thing and started looking like a girl instead of a tomboy. Spiky hair turned honey brown and fell across her shoulders. Freckles faded as her skin began to glow. She abandoned boxy trousers for slacks that took on a shape. And as always, Nigel took notice before I did.
When he asked her out, my stomach fell down into my guts. My hackles rose, and I didn’t know why. I guess it was because things were changing in our tight little group. The dynamics were different all of a sudden. That might have been it, or perhaps I was just jealous she claimed some of his time without me around to participate.
Whatever the reason, I sort of withdrew. I found other things to occupy my time when they wanted to go do this or that. I hated myself afterward because I was making it easier to cut me out. But for some reason, I did it anyway. My pop would have said it was all a part of growing up and growing away. And maybe it was, but I couldn’t see him in his room crying because his best friend, Mr. Potter, got married and had a family. And I was convinced that was what was coming down the road. Well, if Nigel asked me to be his best man, I’d come down sick… maybe terminally.
I couldn’t avoid them at school, so I put on as brave a face as I could, but other kids noticed. I answered the question “What’s up with you’n Nigel?” with a “Nothing” more times than I could count. Still, he was friendly and asked me to go to games and the like with him. I did, but it was different in some way I couldn’t explain. Nigel didn’t seem to notice.
Then came the winter prom our senior year. He caught me in the garage tinkering with the 49 Ford my father had given me when he got a new Expedition. He was no sooner through the door than he asked me who I was taking to the dance. “I almost said “You” before I caught myself and shrugged.
“Why don’t you ask Mazie?” he suggested.
I about dropped my wrench as I pulled my head out of the motor well. “Mazie. Aren’t you taking her?”
“Nah. I asked Helen.”
“H-how come? I though you and Mazie were together.”
“I asked her out a couple of times, but it’s like going out with a buddy instead of a girl.”
“She know you’re taking Helen to the prom?”
He nodded as he tested the drive chain. “Seems a little loose. Yeah, we talked it over, and she’s cool with it. Whoever you ask, we can all go together. Make a foursome of it.”
The next day when I spotted Mazie coming home from school, I saw her through different eyes. I grabbed a jacket and flew out the front door before she disappeared into her house.
“Teacher keep you after school? I’ve been home for half an hour.”
“Well, you had wheels. I walked.”
“You know you can ride with me whenever you want. You’ve done it a hundred times.”
“I know. But a couple of us went for malted milkshakes.”
“Do… do you have a date for the prom?”
“Billy asked me, but I told him I already had another date.”
“No, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings by saying no.”
“Would you hurt my feelings?”
“What? By saying no if you asked?”
She tossed that gorgeous honey brown hair of hers. “Are you asking?”
“Uh, I guess so?”
“Geez, I’ve never been asked for a date is such a romantic way.”
“Does that mean no?”
“It means ask me, you dopehead.” Her smile took the sting out of the “dopehead” part.
“Okay, will you go to the prom with me?”
“I’d love to go with you.”
My stomach did a flip-flop. I could feel a smile stretching my lips as far as they would go. Then I frowned.
“What’s the matter?”
“Nigel wants to double date.”
“That would be fun.”
“Uh… I mean….”
She laughed, and I felt my face go red.
“Blake, I have no problem double dating with Nigel and Helen. After all, he’s my best friend… except maybe for you.”
Things got serious between Mazie and me after that wonderful prom, just as they have for Nigel and Helen. Helen’s a regular member of our group now. Awkward at first, but perfectly comfortable now. I know I can’t do anything until after college, but I’m seriously thinking of asking Mazie to marry me sometime in the future.
But you know what? Nigel Blaine will always be my first and lasting love, even though it will forever be unfulfilled. During unguarded moments, I believe he feels the same way.
Childhood bonding is strong and slow to let go sometimes. How many of us have felt as Blake does at sometime in our lives? But we soldier on and fulfill nature’s call to propagate. Well, some of us do. The braver souls follow their nature wherever it takes them.
Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!
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See you next week.
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