Monday, October 19, 2009


Suzannah's funeral took place the following Wednesday. After the ceremony, there was not a dry eye in the whole place. I still, some twenty years later, miss her and think about how it would be if she were still here.

I'm married now and have two kids, one boy and one girl. I named the girl Suzannah. She's just as smart as the other Suzannah and the name suits her well. She's not old enough yet, though, to understand the full honor we gave her when we named her Suzannah.

Just like I told Suzannah, I became a pediatrician. I wonder if Suzannah would have had kids if she had the chance. If they were anything like their mother, they would have been a riot to treat. Suzannah always hated doctors. She was sure they were all liars and cheaters.

Scott cheated the world out of a leader. I still believe that Suzannah could have changed the world for the better. We recently had a junior high school class reunion and a lot of people really made something out of themselves. For example, Therese is a well known fashion designer who flew in from Beverly Hills with her husband. As predicted, Cass married a business executive and as she put it, her profession is "shopping." Suzannah really would have gotten a kick out of seeing everyone again, I know she would of.

She never got to graduate. We all decided to dedicate our ceremony in memory of her. We also had a big coping session because quite a few kids couldn't handle her death.

I am still very good friends with Arnold. Suzannah's death brought us together and we are like brothers. He was the best man at my wedding and I was at his. He married one of Suzannah's close friends, Janette. They have two kids also.

Scott moved away right after Suzannah died. People kept egging and toilet papering their house. Someone threw a rock through a window. No one really liked Scott in the first place, but even he couldn't take it after Suzannah died. We never stopped torturing him. Arnold beat him up so many times, we all lost count. I would have killed him, given the chance.

The Rawlings sued Scott's family and won big. But money could never cover their loss. They too moved, only for a different reason. They couldn't take the memories. Everywhere they looked they saw Suzannah. Her room, the empty place at the kitchen table, the park she used to play in when she was little. It was very hard for them. I recently ran into Diana. She's married and has a daughter and is four months pregnant. I wish her lots of luck and love.

The first Sunday after the accident, I had gone and picked up the broken pieces of protractor and saved them. I still have them. I keep them in my box of treasures, and the box is always locked. My wife doesn't understand why I keep it locked. I tell her it's to keep it safe. She says she doesn't think anyone will want to take a broken protractor. Then again, I say, I never thought anyone would want to take Suzannah's life.

I keep a picture of Suzannah in a little frame on the mantel over the fireplace. My son once asked me why I have a picture of some kid there. So I sat down and told him the story. I told him that sometimes life can throw you a nasty curve and you gotta be prepared for it. All those years ago, on that fatal day Scott gave Suzannah a big push, none of us were ready for that curve ball life threw us. My son was eleven at the time.

The only other thing I have of Suzannah besides memories is her whistle bracelet. She really loved that bracelet. It was gold and had a little gold whistle hanging on it. She told me one day how she usually hated bracelets, but when she saw that one, she fell in love with it instantly. Never took it off, either.

While the picture, bracelet, and protractor are important, memories are at the top of the list. Without them, I could never remember the girl who taught me so much. Some of the lessons I learned weren't said or written, just learned by actions.

There is a small part of my heart that is empty. It will always be that way because that part was Suzannah's. And she never got the chance to complete filling it.

Chapter 19

The kids at school never had realized that Suzannah and I had been such good friends until her relapse. I was like a zombie. I couldn't focus at all on anything except her. Suzannah had still not regained conscieness and I wanted to be at the hospital with all her other friends. But mom had said no, I'd be there after school, so I should go and learn something. Like I could really think in a situation like that.

For two weeks Suzannah lay there. Arnold went to the hospital with me several times. It was the last time we visited her that Arnold surprised me. He walked over to Suzannah and took her hand.

"I don't know if you can hear me or not but I just wanted you to know that I like you a lot. I've liked you for the longest time and I hope you like me. When you get out of this, I hope you'll go out with me. Like I said, I don't know if you can hear a word I'm saying, but I hope so and I hope it means something to you."

Suzannah's hand tightened weakly around Arnold's for a tiny little second before it went limp again. She died the next day.

Chapter 18

Someone stole Scott's books and trashed them. They also spray painted "murderer" on his locker. I was right. He didn't show up. How he was going to explain this one was beyond me. Suzannah didn't have a lot of friends, but she was basically more or less liked by quite a few people. I never really realized that until the accident happened.

School, though, didn't change much. I never really hung around with her there. She had her crowd, I had mine. I visited her in the hospital daily and told Suzannah what was going on. She really appreciated it. I also brought her her homework so she could keep up.

The week went by fast and Suzannah was going to get out of the hospital on Sunday. She told me to come by her house.

It seemed like Saturday lasted forever. I went to their house at the time Suzannah told me, 2:30, but no one was home. By five, I was worried.

"Where could they be?" I asked my mom.

"I don't know," she frowned with her reply.

At six, we drove by the hospital. Her room was empty. We stopped the head nurse on he floor to ask what time the Rawlings left.

The nurse looked upset. "The Rawlings girl never made it out of the hospital. Her left lung collapsed last night. She's still in surgery."

Mom and I rushed to the waiting room where the rest of Suzannah's family was. Rachel was there and so was Suzannah's friend Janette. I had always liked Janette, so I sat next to her.

"What are her chances?" I whispered to Janette.

"Small," she whispered back.

We stayed for an hour and then left because I had to go to school the next day. When I got home, I called Arnold.

"How's Suzannah?" he asked with hope.

"Arnold, she never left the hospital. Last night her left lung collapsed and she's still in surgery. There's not a lot of chance for her..." my voice trailed off.

"No. That's not funny, John!"

"Arnold, I'm not kidding. I would not kid about something like that."

"I know, I'm sorry. I just don't want it to be true."

I knew exactly how Arnold felt.

Chapter 17

And there we sat all night, in a dinky hospital waiting room. All I could think of were all the things I wanted to tell Suzannah that I might never have a chance to. The worst part about the whole thing was not knowing. All the doctors said the same thing. They didn't know if she'd be okay. One said she had a fifty-fifty chance. Another thought her odds were higher than that.

Saturday wore into Sunday, when early Sunday morning the first shred of news came.

"I've got good news!" Dr. Shurber announced around 7:30. "Suzannah will be all right, she's in a room, and wants to see all of you!"

We all hugged and let out whoops of joy.

"But," Dr. Shurber continued, "only one at a time."

Mrs. Rawlings went first, then Mr. Rawlings, then Diana, my parents and finally, Arnold and me. (The doctor let us go together.)

Mom had warned me that Suzannah was not a very pretty sight, but I was not prepared for what I saw. Her face was bruised, swollen, and stitched, and she had a cast on her right arm.

"Hi!" she said when we walked in. Then, seeing the look on our faces, she frowned. "I look that bad, huh?"

"oh, not that bad," I lied.

She shrugged. "I was run over by a car. What did you expect, a beauty queen?"

As usual, she made us laugh. I wanted to know what happened, but didn't want to ask. Well, Suzannah's pretty good about knowing what people want, so she brought the subject up herself.

"I assume you want to know what happened."

I didn't say anything and neither did Arnold, but I could tell her wanted to know, too.

Suzannah sighed. "That damn asshole Scott! I go to Woolworth to buy one stupid protractor and on the way back, he just happens to be walking down the street. Any way, the little ass* goes to me, 'You're going to regret that little award incident,' then he shoves me. So I start screaming my head off about what a dork he is and bam! Next thing I know I'm hitting the pavement. I hear a sickening screech of brakes and that's the last I remember."

For the first time, Arnold speaks up. Softly he says, "I'll kill him!"

Then Dr. Shurbert walks in the room and says that Suzannah should rest and we'll see her soon. More relatives are arriving. Suzannah opens her mouth to protest, but shuts it when the doc gives her a look. We say bye and leave.

My parents drive Arnold home and tell him he should get some sleep. I'm exhausted and plan to do the same. I know Monday will be a busy day and figure good ole Scott probably won't be there.

*Author/transcriber note: before the word ass, there was a word that started with an f that is obscured by heavy scribbling with a ballpoint pen...

Chapter 16

Mom sent me in to get Diana and at first, her friend's mother didn't want to trust her to me.

"But how can I be sure you're supposed to pick her up? the woman kept repeating.

Finally Diana came downstairs and said, "Hi John! Do I gotta go now?"

I nodded. Satisfied after Diana explained that I was a close family friend, the lady let Diana go.

When we were outside and the woman shut the door, Diana asked why we were picking her up.

"Let my mom explain it, OK Diana?"

She nodded. "OK."

Arnold and I sat in the back and let Diana sit up front with Mom. I heard Mom's gentle voice tell Diana the story and then the monotonous drone of Diana's crying.

When we got to the Emergency Room, Diana rushed into her parents' arms.

"They're going to have to take her to surgery. They've got to operate.," Mrs. Rawlings hoarsly croaked.

A few minutes later, Dad walked in. He told us that he spoke with Arnold's parents and we'd take him home when we left, unless he wanted to leave sooner, in which case Arnold would call home to have his parents pick him up. Then Dad left us to go try and help Mom comfort the Rawlings.

I turned to Arnold. He was pulling his arm back and BANG! He hid the wall with a hard upper-cut.

"Damn it! Damn it! Why Suzannah?" He hit the wall again. "I'll kill Scott, that damn ass. He'll be sorry!" Arnold seethed. He banged the wall again and his rage came to an end. We joined the adults in silence.

Chapter 15

The assault was all the kids in school talked about when vacation ended. They asked us what exactly happened, were were going to go to court and testify, etc. We were beginning to get sick of the attention. Suzannah remained considerably quiety about the subject and began to get irritated after awhile.

Since she didn't really want to talk about the assault, Suzannah and I talked about other things. One day out of the clear blue sky, I asked how Rachel was.

Suzannah looked taken aback. She blinked a few times and frowned. "You know, I'm not sure. I haven't heard from her in a long time. Why?"

"I don't know, just curious, I guess," I answered.

"You don't like her again, do you?"

"No, not really. Don't worry, OK?"

Suzannah nodded. "OK."

School wore on. In math class, someone stole Suzannah's protractor and she needed one for class the next Monday.

"Want to go with me to get a protractor?" Suzannah asked me on Saturday.

"Sorry, I can't/ I'm going to the movies with Arnold," I replied.

"Oh, OK. Have a good time," Suzannah said.


It was cold out, but Suzannah planned on walking the one block to Woolworth. AS Arnold's mom drove us to the move, we saw her walking by and waved to her. Suzannah waved back happily.

Arnold and I got back at around 3:30. We were talking and laughing as we made our way up my driveway. It was exceptionally warm for February and the sun shone brightly and melted the snow and ice. The day itself was so cheerful, I thought nothing could break through my good mood.

As I opened the kitchen door, I noticed Mom slowly hanging up the phone. She turned toward us. It was the expression on her face that stopped me dead in my tracks. Her face was deathly white and tears were beginning to overflow her eyes and run down her face like a river after a large storm. We didn't move and she just stood there, tears pouring down her pale face.

Finally, after what seemed to be centuries, did Mom speak.

"That was Mrs. Rawlings," she began, and tone of the voice Mom used when she said that scared me. "She wanted to know if we could pick Diana up from her friend's house to take her to the hospital."

"The hospital? Why?" I had a feeling I didn't want to know.

Ma's voice cracked. "Because Suzannah was run over by a car."

"No." I whispered it. Then I shook my head. "No, not Suzannah. It can't be. She's too careful when she crosses the street."

Mom gathered her car keys.

"A boy named Scott was pushing her around, and he shoved her out into the street - I guess..." Mom's voice trailed off and in a very tine, strained one she finished her sentence. "I guess he didn't see the car coming." She put on her coat and gym shoes. "Are you boys going to come to the hospital with Diana and me?"

Arnold and I instantaneously answered "Yes."

We went out to the car and drove off to get Diana. I noticed some police lines marking off a restricted area.

"Oh, God! This must be where it happened!" I thought to myself.

Chapter 14

My parents came back at the end of the first week of vacation. I really missed my late night conversations with Suzannah by the fireplace.

Arnold came back on Saturday and we spent Monday at my house.

"In exactly one week from today, we'll back in school ya know." Arnold pointed out to me.

I sighed. "Yeah, I know."

We were quiet for a few seconds. Then Arnold spoke again.

"How was Therese's party?" he asked.

I perked up. "It was really fun!" I said. "We played Truth or Dare and ate pizza and danced!"

"I wanted to go so bad. Did Suzannah go?"

"Why?" I was very curious.

"Just wondering."

"Do you like her or something?"

Arnold turned red.

"I don't know! I'm so confused!" he seemed flustered and aggravated.

I was torn apart. I couldn't stand seeing Arnold so confused and aggravated, but I didn't want to betray Suzannah's trust in me. I had a feeling that if he knew she liked him, he'd ask her out.

"When did you first feel this way?" I asked him.

He shrugged. "A long time ago. I've liked her for a real long time."

"Oh. Well, I have an idea. Want to go over to her house?"

Arnold's face brightened considerably at the idea of seeing her. He nodded enthusiastically.

"Yeah! That's a great idea!"

We put on our coats and I told my mom we were going to Suzannah's. She said they might not be home, but if they were, I should call when I got there. We said OK and left.

It was slow going because of the ice that covered the sidewalks like sheets of slippery glass. When we finally go to Suzannah's, we saw that neither of her cars were in the driveway. I was ready to turn back, but Arnold said that it never hurt to try. We walked up the driveway and rang the bell. It took a few minutes, but finally Suzannah answered the door. She look awful. Her hair was a mess, and she was extremely pale. She looked tired and like she'd been crying. The circles under her red eyes were very dark and made the rest of her face look hollow. When she saw us standing on her icy doorstep, she blinked.

"Hi guys. My parents aren't home, but do you want to come in?"

I stepped into her warm house first and Arnold followed. I looked around. I realized that her parents were at work, but probably Diana was still around somewhere.

"Hey Suzannah, where's Diana?" I asked.

"She went to a friend's house." Suzannah answered. "Go in the living room or something for a few minutes. I'll be right back." She ran upstairs and the door to her room shut with a loud bang.

Arnold and I walked into the living room. The TV was on. Tom and Jerry were fighting on the TV screen. Tom and Jerry was one of Suzannah's favorite TV shows, especially the ones from back when we were little kids.

I turned to tell Arnold I was going to call my mom. He was watching the TV and laughing like a hyena, but he nodded.

I went into the kitchen and called Mom from the kitchen phone. As I hung up, Suzannah came bounding down. She turned on a lamp for light because the shades were down and it was gray outside.

It was then that we first heard the screams. There was one long high-pitched scream followed by two shorter ones. Suzannah frowned and went to peek out the window. The screams stopped for a second and Suzannah gasped.

"What's wrong?!?" I asked as I got up to go look out the window.

Slowly Suzannah turned around. Her face was drained of all color, it was chalk white. I was at the window in an instant. Arnold pulled open the curtain and let out a low whistle.

"Oh Lord!" I moaned.

Suzannah was shaking. "Go call the police and hurry."

For the second time within twenty minutes, I picked up the phone in Suzannah's kitchen. Even though I was shaking inside, my hand steadily dialed 911. The dispatcher answered on the first ring.

"Hello? I'm calling to report an assault on a woman." I said calmly.

"Where?" the dispatcher asked. I gave the address and all other necessary information. In a matter of minutes, an unmarked police car drive down our street. It stopped in front of Suzannah's house and quietly the cop crept across the street into the thick bushed in front of the house.

Every muscle in Suzannah's body tensed. "Come on!" she yelled at us and grabbed her jacket.

When we got outside, the first police officer had the woman's attacker and was cuffing him. Three more police cars arrived at the scene and there were copes picking up evidence from the bushes. The woman looked awful. Bruises were already beginning to show and blood was oozing out of several gashes and cuts.

Suzannah gulped and began to look around. An ambulance pulled up, and then I saw it. A few feet away from the bushes was a knife. Suzannah saw it to and walked over to a policeman and pointed it out. He thanked her and walked over to get it.

It was very cold outside so we went back in Suzannah's house. In a few minutes, there was a knock on the door. Suzannah went to answer it and the man at the door identified himself as Sgt. Dan Collier and showed us his badge. He then asked if he could come in and ask us a few questions. Suzannah nodded and let him in.

We went into the living room and sat down.

"First, I need to know your names." Sgt. Collier said.

We gave our names and ages. Sgt. Collier nodded.

"OK, who first saw the crime?" he asked.

Suzannah took a deep breath. "The shades and curtains in the living room were down and at about 2:30, we first heard a few screams. I went over to the window and pushed away the shades and curtains to find out why. Then I saw this man dragging this woman into the bushes. At first they were in a pretty thin patch and I could see him hitting her over and over again. It was mostly on her face. Then she tried to scratch him or something but took her hand back because he took out a knife and started waving it around her. That's when she stopped screaming. He then proceded to drag her further into the bushes and I couldn't see anything else except for the tremendous shaking of the bushes.

"Oh, I see. Who called the police department?" Sgt. Collier asked next.

I cleared my throat. "I did. Suzannah looked out the window for a second and then I peeked out. She asked to call the police while she watched."

Sgt. Collier turned to Arnold. "And where were you during all this?"

"I was watching out the window with Suzannah." Arnold replied.

"OK. Does everything Suzannah said sound all right to you?"

Arnold nodded.

"Now, kids. You're going to have to testify in a court of law, so let me go over this with you. Now Suzannah here says that you all heard screams, so she went to the window to look out. Right?"

We nodded.

"Good. Then you guys look out the window and Suzannah sends John to call us. Right?"

"Right," I say.

"Good. That'll be all then. I may have to call you kids, so expect to be hearing from me. And thanks for your help."

"Bye!" We all said and showed Sgt. Collier to the door. Then we went back to the living room and sat down quietly with out thoughts until my mom called and we had to leave.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chapter 13

Therese's party started at 7:00. At 6:30 Suzannah emerged from her bedroom, all ready to go. She looked great, each stand of hair was in place, she wore the right amount of make-up, things like that.

"Too bad Arnold isn't going to be there tonight!" I thought to myself.

I could tell Suzanne thought this too, because when I looked in her eyes, I could see that they were very distant. She sighed. Then she brightened and turned to me.

"You know what?" she asked.

I shook my head.

Suzannah leaned close to me. Her coice was almost inaudible as she whispered to me. "I think Therese likes you."

"Me?" I was surprised.

Suzannah nodded.

Mrs. Rawlings came downstairs and told us to get in the car. AS we walked outside, a cold December wind hit us in the face. Once in the car, I turned to Suzannah.

"Why do you think Therese likes me?" I asked her.

"Well, for starters, she's always staring at you. I'm surprised you didn't notice it before!" she replied.

I thought about that. Suzannah was right, she had been staring at me lately.

"What else does she do?"

"She also talks about you constantly. She thinks you're sooooo cure." Suzanne imitated Therese.

"Oh," I think I was disappointed, but I wasn't sure why.

Suzannah's mother got in the car and drove us to Therese's house.

We got there a few minutes early. As Suzannah rang the door bell she raised her eyebrows at me and giggled. Therese answered the door almost as soon as Suzannah rang the bell. Apparently, she didn't see me at first.

"Hi Suzannah." She looked around. "Where's John?"

I could see in the outside light Suzannah narrow her eyes down to slits.

"Don't worry," she said with annoyance, "your loverboy's here."

Therese turned red. Then she spotted me. "oh, hi!" her voice was sugar sweet.

We went inside. Her house was the same kind as mine. I was going to point that out, but decided not to. She might have wanted to come and see my house. Therese led us downstairs and into the rec room. Then the bell rang, so she excused herself to go upstairs.

Suzannah flopped down on the couch.

"Do you know who else is coming?" I asked her as I sat down next to her.

She nodded. "I think Sarah, Brant, Yoshiko, Carrie, Dan, and a few other kids are coming."

Therese returned with Dave and Ed. I was surprised that they came. They saw me and belched. It was our greeting. Happily, I burped back. The door bell rang again. Therese didn't move.

"My mom will answer the door," she explained.

"Oh, wow," Dave exclaimed sarcastically.

About six kids came down. In another five minutes, everyone was there.

"Well, now what?!?" someone demanded.

Therese smiled. "Want to play Truth or Dare?"

"Yeah!" everyone liked the idea.

"Since it's my party, I'll go first, OK?"

Everyone nodded.

"All right, John. Truth or dare?"

I thought about that a second. "Dare!"

Therese smiled. "I dare you to moon us."

That wasn't such a bad dare, but I wasn't sure I wanted to do it. I looked at Ed. He nodded. I looked at Suzannah. She was unsuccessfully trying not to laugh. "OK, I'll do it!" I said.

When I was done, Therese had this dreamy look on her face. Suzannah was laughing so hard tears were pouring down her face. The she couldn't breathe, so she had to take her inhaler.

The game went on for about an hour. It was interrupted by a pizza break. When we went back downstairs, Therese put on her stereo and we all danced for the rest of the night.

The third song was a slow one. Therese asked me to dance and I agreed. I noticed Suzannah sitting alone on the couch. She looked so sad. I couldn't stand seeing such a good friend so sad. The next song was also slow. I walked across the room to where Suzannah was sitting.

"Want to dance?" I asked.

She smiled. "Sure. Why not?"

I didn't really know how it all happened, but the next thing I knew, I was holding Suzannah tightly in my arms and she put her head on my shoulder. I could feel the outline of her figure against my chest.

I glanced around the room. Therese was wrapped up in Dan's arms, but was watching us with jealousy glaring in her bold green eyes.

All too soon, the song ended and Suzannah went back to her place on the couch. She didn't look quite as sad as before. I felt a lot happier inside. A warm feeling had evolved and stayed with me for the rest of the night.

Chapter 12

The bed in the guest room was very comfortable and I fell asleep right away. I had a strange dream. I couldn't remember all of it, but I know at one point there was a lot of screaming and Suzannah was doing most of it. I never got the end of the dream because I woke up. Rolling over, I glanced at the clock. It read 9:12. I heard a noise and saw Suzannah sleepily walk out of her room. Upon seeing that I was up, she came into the room and told me to come downstairs with her for breakfast.

Suzannah was a cereal eater and we had Captain Crunch to eat. Mr. Rawlings was at work, Diana was watching T.V., and Mrs. Rawlings was still sleeping.

Suzannah looked up from her cereal/ "What do you want to do today?" she asked.

I shrugged. I didn't know what we could do.

"Let's wait until my mom gets up. In the meantime, wanna watch T.V. with Diana?"

I nodded and we went into the living room. Suzannah sat down on the leather couch and began to watch cartoons. I sat down next to her and shut my eyes. I hated cartoons.

We watched three gameshows after the cartoons before Mrs. Rawlings got up. She sleepily shuffled into the kitchen. Suzannah followed her in.

"What are we doing today, Mom?" Suzannah asked.

"We're going to buy you underwear, Suzannah!" She turned to me. "Do you mind?" She then laughed at her own joke.

Suzannah, however, did not find this amusing at all. I heard her swear under her breath quite a few times before she spoke to her mother again.

"Very funny!" she snickered. "But what are we going to do?"

"Well, assuming that John is invited to Therese's party tonight, I thought maybe I could drop you kids off at South Bend Mall to look for a present."

"Assuming makes an ass out of you and me," I heard Suzannah mutter.

Her mother ignored this and turned to me. I nodded, indicating that I was invited and that I did need a present.

Mrs. Rawlings brightened and said to hurry up and get dressed. We'll go at noon.

It took Suzannah half an hour to emerge from her bedroom. When she did, it was 11:45 and Mrs. Rawlings decided to leave then. She drove us to the mall, dropped us off, and said she'd pick us up at 3:30 in front of Marshall Fields. Then she left.

We found presents for Therese within the first forty-five minutes and decided to have lunch. As with most indoor malls, South Bend had the usual fast food joints. Suzannah had McDonald's and I had Taco Bell.

"You hoo!" came a shout from across the room. Suzannah looked up and groaned. It was Cass and her friends Ginger and Carolynn. Carolynn gave me a look that said what-are-you-doing-here-with-her! Cass sat down on a chair at the table next to ours. She turned to me.

"Like, oh mi gohd! I've been, like, trying to call you all night! Like, where were you?" Cass flipped her shiny blond hair each time she said "like."

"I slept over at a friend's house," I carefully answered. Suzannah snorted at my answer.

"Like, oh."

Ginger rummaged through one of the many bags she was carrying. Finding what she wanted, she pulled out an expensive lipstick and mirror. She applied some, blotted it, and smiled at her reflection in the mirror. Suzannah looked disgusted.

Ginger giggled. "What do you think?" she asked me. "Is it me?"

It looked terrible. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Suzannah repressing an urge to say something obnoxious. The girls ignored her.

"Well?" Ginger demanded.

"uh, it's nice," I lied.

Ginger giggled again. Suzannah looked as if she were going to barf. As usual, she mittered something. Ginger turned to her.

"Did you say something darling?" she trilled the word darling, trying to sound like her idol, Zsa Zsa Gabor.

"No darling, I didn't say anything your delicate little ears should hear," Suzannah said sarcastically.

At that, I almost laughed out loud. Singer, though, could not believe that Suzannah would say something like that to her. She looked almost as shocked at Cass and Carolynn did.

She stood up. "Well!" she huffed. She walked out of the room. Carolynn and Cass said bye to me, gave Suzannah a dirty look, and followed Ginger out.

When they were gone, Suzannah stood up, threw back her head with mock dignity, and, batting her eyelashes, said, "Well, I will not be - uh, what's the word? - imitated - yeah, that's it, imitated - by such a low social form."

The imitation was perfect. I laughed for so long it seemed as if my guts would burst.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chapter 11

The Rawlings said how sorry they were and Suzannah put her arm around my shoulders. They all tried to comfort me, even her little sister, Diana. Diana was tall for her age and Suzannah was short, so Diana was about the same height as Suzannah. But all the same, you could tell Suzannah was older because she was more mature looking.*

We had Irv's Red Hots for dinner and it was a hilarious dinner conversation. The Rawlings had succeeded: they cheered me up.

After dinner, Suzannah, Diana, and I played video games. Then we played a fast paced game of Monopoly. We played a few computer games and watched a movie on cable T.V. By the time the movie was over, it was 11:00. Mrs. Rawlings had lit a fire in the immense white marble fireplace. Everyone else had gone to sleep and Suzannah lay down and stretched out on the carpeted floor. She looked at me contemplatively with those big, brown eyes and began to ask me questions.

"Did you like your old school?"

I didn't answer right away. I thought about my old school, the old brick building, the timy playground for the younger kids, the many trees that surrounded the school like a protective fence.

I thought about how old the school was, and about how the town cemetery was right behind it. I thought about the kids who went there, and how nice they were, and I thought about my old best friend, Hal.

When I shut my eyes I could feel the seat of my old desk underneath me, and I could hear the rusty bell cling that it was time to start school, change classes, or go home, depending on which the three qualified at the time. When I concentrated hard, I could even smell the food from the cafeteria, and I could see the students of the 31st Street School as they changed classes.

I thought about how I missed it, and when I finally answered Suzannah, it was in a voice coming from far away, one that got lost on the path of memories.

"Yeah. Yeah, I liked my old school a lot. You would have liked it there, too. It was old, over 100 years old. The kids were all nice, not snobs."

"It was old?" Suzannah asked. "I love old stuff." Her eyes sparkled, then dimmed a little. She cocked her head to one side and gently asked, "Do you miss it a lot?"

Memories flooded back like a river bursting through its banks. I thought about when I first met Hal in kindergarten. I thought about how much I missed him and it hurt.

"Yeah, I miss it a lot."

Suzannah shut her eyes, and was quiet for a long, long time. When she opened them, her eyes reflected deep thought. When she spoke again, it was slowly.

"Do you like anyone from this school? You could have them, you know. You could have anyone you want."

It was the first time she had ever said something like that. When I looked at her, she was gazing into the fire. Wisps of black hair fell into her face and she brushed them awayu. Her skin looked soft and was a delicate shade of ivory. The circles under her eyes were dark, as if she stayed up too late too many nights. She looked, despite the circles under her warm brown eyes, perfect and beautiful.

Then I thought about her question. Before I answered, I had a question to ask her.

"Suzannah, do you like Arnold, or something?"

Her gaze left the flames. She looked at me with a pained expression on her face.

"I'm so scared. Someone more popular and much prettier than me could just come along and take him. I have no chance." Her eyes glistened as unshed tears welled up and begged to be released. She looked back into the fire.

I took her answer as a yes. I wasn't sure who Arnold liked, but I knew that he wouldn't easily be swept away by some popular bitch. I told this to Suzannah and watched hope slowly seep into her face.

"Please. Don't tell anyone! OK?" her voice pleaded with me.

"Don't worry! For Godsake, you'r my best girl friend! You know me better than that!" I replied.

Suzannah smiled. "You're right. I'm sorry. I hope I didn't insult you."

"Don't worry about it. You didn't."

"Oh. Good."



"What do you really want to do with your life?"

She looked at me, her brown eyes gazing deeply into mine. "After high school, I want to go to Northwestern or University of Chicago. They're good schools, you know."

I nodded impatiently. She continued. "I want to major in Political Science and minor in business or law. If I want to become a lawyer, I want to be a criminal lawyer and prosecute criminals. If I major in business, I want to become a business executive."

Her eyes were dreamy.

"But, most of all, I want to be a politician. I know I can make the country a better place. I can make a difference. I know it will be hard because I'm not only a female, but Jewish, too." She paused briefly. "More than anything, I want to be a politician. I want to get married. My husband and I will eat off paper plates. If he wants dishes, he'll have to wash 'em. I refuse to cook, and he'll have to do his part of the cleaning and laundry. I don't want kids. I can't stand them. All there are is no. one costly, and 2) trouble! Besides, I'd refuse to stay home with the little brats."

I laughed at the thought of Suzannah with kids.

"I answered your question, not you tell me what you want to be!" Suzannah demanded.

Besides my family and Arnold, no one had ever asked me what I wanted to be.** I excitedly answered right away.

"I want to be a pediatrician." At first, Suzannah looked horrified at the idea at working with children, but then she smiled. I went on.

"I want to live in a modern house and get married. I would like to have two kids, hopefully one boy and one girl."

"I bet you'd be a great doctor!" Suzannah exclaimed.

A light flicked on upstairs. Mr. Rawlings appeared at the head of the stairs.

"Hey, you kids! It's a little late, don't you think? Go to bed!"

Suzannah opened her mouth to argue, but closed it with a snap. Sighing, she got up and as she trudged up the stairs, I followed.

*Author/transcriber's note: For the record, the manuscript originally said "she was well developed," but at some point I scribbled over that with pen, and then over that with pencil, changing it to "more mature looking." I find this so hilarious that it merits a foot note.
**Author/transcriber's note: except for Suzannah in a previous chapter, but whatever... I am impressed that I managed to forgot that I already wrote this scene,but that it is entirely consistent with the earlier one.

Chapter 10*

The Friday before Christmas Vacation began, my uncle in Mississippi died. My parents were going to have to go to help out.

"Am I going?" I asked mom.

She gasped. "Oh no! I've been so preoccupied that I forgot to find somewhere for you to stay! Jeff will stay at his friend Bob's, but what about you?" Thoughtfully, she clucked her tongue. "I hate to do this to them, but call Arnold and see if you can stay there."

I shook my head. "Arnold's going away to visit some relatives."

Mom sighed. "I have no choice but to call the Rawlings.. Maybe you can sleep on their couch or something."

She left the living room and went into the kitchen.

A few minutes later Mom walked back into the living room. "Well, it's all set. The Rawlings said you could stay in the spare bedroom. Our flight leaves at 8:00, so you'll go there at 6:30. It's 4:30 right now, so go and pack. Oh, and, take this, just in case." She handed me a key for the house and $50.

Somberly, I went up to my room. I wondered what it would be life to live with Suzannah for a few days. Dad said it would be three or four. I threw some clothes, a toothbrush, my brush, and a couple of other things in an overnight bag.

Sadly, I looked around my room. I thought about how much I liked Uncle Joe. Recently, Aunt Laraine and he moved to Mississippi from here. I thought about poor Aunt Laraine, and how she'd cry. Her soft, blond curls would frame her red face. I thought about how glad I was that I didn't have to go to the funeral. How I didn't want to have to see crying adults.

Breaking free from my thoughts, I looked at my digital alarm clock. 6:31. It was time to leave for Suzannah's.

*Not only did the original manuscript have two chapter fours, but there are also two chapter tens. Ooops.

Chapter 10

We had had our small fights, through our friendship where Suzannah wouldn't talk to me for a day or so, but never more serious than that. With each passing day, the friendship that Suzannah and I shared grew stronger. She was a person who fascinated me with her widespread knowledge. She could be quiet and thoughtful, or brash, loud, and looking for fun.

On the outside she wasn't bad looking, but the beauty within her outdistanced that by far. Whenever I had a problem, I'd turn to Suzannah. She always had some sort of answer. Sometimes it made no sense and she left me to figure it out for myself, and other times she got straight to the point. When I was depressed, no one could cheer me up better than Suzannah and when I was happy, she shared in on my happiness.

In all, Suzannah was a remarkable person. Her parents loved her, but her life was rough. Suzannah had come face to face with death several times.

One dark night when she was seven, Suzannah woke up. She could not breathe at all. Her chest hurt from gasping so hard for breath. Each time she tried to breathe, Suzannah's chest caved in, that's how hard she tried to breathe. Later, at the hospital, the doctor told the family how lucky they were that Suzannah woke up when she did. If she hadn't she'd have died in her sleep.

Asthma attacks used to try to claim her life many times. So Suzannah was not really afraid to die. God knows she'd been too close too many times.

Suzannah's asthma had gotten a lot better over the years. She still had to go to the allergist once a week, but it didn't bother her. She had to take two shots. I know I'd hate it, but Suzannah has a high threshold for pain.

Even though she's been in many races with Death itself, Suzannah never dwelled on it and never asked for pity.

"It just happened," she once told me. "It happened and there was nothing I could do about it."

Later on, I thought about that statement and cried.

Chapter 9

That weekend, Catherine had come to visit Suzannah. All week Suzannah excitedly spoke about it. She said Catherine was nice and described her as having dark brown hair and a dark complexion.

Anyway, on Saturday Catherine was going to come in from her new house in Michigan and spend the night at the Rawlings' while her dad did business and stayed at a local hotel. Saturday turned out to be a briskly cold day. An early December frost clung to the air, reminding all that winter was drawing near.

It turned out that Arnold was going to come over, and he said he wouldn't mind going to the Rawlings' if I wanted to. So, I called Suzannah to find out if it was all right if Arnold came. She sounded, quite noticeably, very pleased with the idea.

Arnold came over at noon and we went to the Rawlings' house at one. Suzannah came to the door almost right away. I could tell she had spent more time than usual doing her hair and she had put a little make-up on. She smiled at us.

Catherine was nothing like I imagined. For some reason I imagined her to be fat and short. But Catherine was of medium height and exceptionally skinny. Suzannah often referred to her as "the human toothpick." Her teeth were as white as a sheet of typing paper and they shone with the radiance of a thousand twinkling starts of a pitch black sky. She wore a pair of pink glasses and her eyes were as brown as a tree trunk. She elbowed Suzannah when she saw Arnold and Suzannah gave her a keep-your-mouth-shut-or-else look.

After exchanging hellos, we went upstairs and, by the time Arnold and I were ready to leave, we had trashed Suzannah's room, which hadn't been too clean in the first place. The first thing Suzannah did when we got up the stairs was to scout around her room while we waited in the hall. She said she wanted to put away "anything that was unsuitable for male eyes." After hearing a lot of drawer slamming, she invited us in.

I plunked myself down on her bed, which meant that I promptly found myself seated on two pairs of jeans, a sweatshirt, a comb and a brush, a trial size can of hairspray (which Suzannah never used because she hated hairspray), a deoderant stick, a notebook, and a pile of miscellaneous papers. Suzannah sat down on her teddy bear collection in the corner of her room, and Catherine sat on a pile of Nancy Drew books. Arnold was about to sit on the chair by the desk, but Suzannah screamed out "No! Not there!" and he looked down and under a jacket, found an electric typewriter. Sheepishly, he seated himself on the floor (actually, it was a bath towel and an old school bag) against her dresser.

When the tedious problem of finding a place to sit was over, a bit of light-hearted teasing went on. It was a lot of fun and we laughed a lot. I told stories from my old school and Suzannah and Catherine told me about the many fights they had with Scott. The comebacks that the girls used were hilarious.

Catherine then asked Suzannah if she had used her witch-powers lately. Suzannah got annoyed and said, "They're not witch-powers, and how many times do I have to tell you I'm not a witch!"

Arnold raised his eyebrows. He was very religious and hated Satan and his followers. Suzannah gave Catherine a dirty look, and Catherine began to explain.

"One night, Suzannah and I were playing monopoly. I had agreed that if I landed on Pennsylvania Ave. before she did, I'd buy it. Then she'd trade me Park Place and $100 for it. At the last minute, I refused to trade. Suzannah was fuming. She said that every time I was on that side of the board, I'd land on Park Place. Well, the first two times I landed on it, I didn't think much about it. But after four times, I got really freaked out!"

Arnold's mouth dropped open. He was in total shock. I was amazed. At my old school, we talked about things like curses, but never was really serious about it. Yet there in Suzannah's room, Arnold was captivated by the idea. Catherine was scared of it, and Suzannah frowned.

"I'm not a witch!" she exclaimed. "Witches practice magic and make deals with the devil. I don't really force my curses, they just come. Witches ask for them and make them. Besides, Jewish people don't believe in the devil."

She then made an attempt to change the subject. It worked and within minutes, the fun, light-hearted, spirit was back. We played board games. (Not Monopoly, even though Catherine wanted to. Arnold would not go near the game with Suzannah around.) We also played things like Truth-or-Dare. The afternoon was a success,

I know though, that as long as I live, I will never forget that afternoon. The afternoon I learned maybe, just maybe, that parapsychology was really possible.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chapter 8

Suzannah was my biggest comfort through the break-up. I was very emotional during the first few days and when I was at her house, I'd often find myelf crying. I'd often cry on Suzannah's shoulder. I don't know what I'd have done without her. Whenever I needed her, she was there.

Late November came around, and Suzannah was still mean to Scott. I found it hard to believe that one person could be so different. To me, Suzannah represented hope, friendship, and kindness. To Scott, she must seem like a cold-hearted witch. I must say, however, that Scott deserved what he got. One time he went around spreading a rumor about something really stupid, and it took the combined forces of me, her friend Janette, and herself two days to undue the damage. That why I agreed to go along with her next scheme.

On December 1, we were to have an assembly honoring the academically achieving students, soccer players, and basketball players. School was an A.A., better known as Academic Achiever, so was Suzannah. The plan was that I'd get everyone to cheer real loud for every A.A. except Scott. For him, there would be dead silence.

The day arrived and all was ready and rearing to go. The first 6 students were called and the whole eighth grade went wild for each one. It took the principal five minutes to calm us down so he could read the next name. He called Scott's name. Scott came down, beaming with pleasure. He took the award the principal handed him. He turned to face the audience, expecting wild cheers of congratulations. Nothing came, not one sound. You could have heard a pin drop. The room was silent. Scott's face turned purple and someone made a few rude grunts from the back.

I glanced at the principal and could not believe what I saw! He was trying, with all his might, to hold back a laugh. I signaled Arnold, who was up there with the others, to glance over at the principal, who by now was clearing his throat.

The principal got semi-control again and called Suzannah's name. With as much pride and dignity as she could muster, she walked up to the front of the room. Cheers, wilder than ever, surrounded her. She took her place next to Scott. Suzannah later told me that during the rest of the time they stood up there, Scott hissed threats to her.

After that incident, Scott and I became real enemies. He'd always try to get back at me, but since everyone hated him, he only made a total fool out of himself. The day after the assembly, he tried to hurt me by talking about how I was dumped by Rachel. Notice I said tried. Each time he opened his mouth, a girl would defend me with whines of "Oh my God! You're soooo rude!"

Scott tried to feed lies about me to my best friend, Arnold. Unfortunately for Scott, Arnold, who happens to be very strong, punched the living daylights out of him.

A week of this went by, and I decided to teach the putz a lesson. I went to Suzannah for help, and found her to be more than happy to help me. I discovered that she was a mastermind at plans. "God, she'd make a great politician!" I thought.

We decided to wait until there was spaghetti for lunch. Happily, that would be the next day. Suzannah outlined the plan, and we laughed until our stomachs hurt.

It seemed to take forever until lunch rolled around. Appearantly, Arnold know some sense into Scotty with that punch, because as I knew of, Scott hadn't said anything about me all day. Finally, the bell announcing lunch clanged. I grabbed my lunch and hurried down to the cafeteria. Quickly, I bought my milk and began to wait.

The lunchroom began filling and was soon jammed with chattering students. Scott emerged from the lunch room, carrying a huge tray of spaghetti with lots of tomato sauce. Just like Suzannah had taught me, I swung around in my chair, and in getting up, I "accidentally" stuck my foot out. Scott, being the dumb ass that he is, tripped and soared through the air. He landed, as Suzannah had known he would, with his face in the spaghetti. The lunch room attendant hurried over to him, and I profusely "apologized for the terrible accident" several times. The lunch room attendant nodded and said that it was not my fault.

If he thought he had been humiliated at the assembly, this was the ultimate embarrassment. When Scott lifted his head out of the tray, his glasses were covered with thick, red tomato paste. Noodles and sauce clung to his face and hair. Several kids laughed so hard they fell off their chairs.

Everyone, including Scott, knew that this was no accident, but when he tried to tell that to the attendant, she just shook her head and wouldn't listen to a word he said.

I had won the war with Scott, and each and every kid in the school knew it.

Chapter 7

I went to Homecoming with Rachel that year. (It was hers.) We had a great time. Homecoming has been October 28 and when November came, I noticed Rachel stopped calling and when I'd call there, she'd make excuses not to talk.

Suzannah and I, though, began to be very close friends. She'd tell me how much she wanted to grow up to be a politician, how she wanted to go to Northwestern or the University of Chicago and major in Political Science and minor in business. She'd tell me how she wanted to get married but not have any kids and how she'd refuse to wash dishes or cook. Suzannah would tell me about the type of car she wanted. It was a Mercedes. Not a sporty style, but a business, dignified one. She wanted a Mercedes 300E. Suzannah would talk dreamily about the type of house she'd like. It was an old one. She loved old houses.

Suzannah would patiently listen to me as I described my hopes to her. More anything in the world, I wanted to be a doctor. I wasn't sure what kind, I just knew the medical profession was for me. No one but her really knew how badly I wanted to go to Harvard Medical School and graduate with honors. I spoke with a passion of how I'd save lives and become the top in my field. And as Suzannah listened, she do something no one else had ever done: she'd encourage me to be what I wanted to be.

I began to really see the inside of Suzannah, something no one else could see. She had a drive to succeed, an honest face, and a want to help the people of the United States. If Suzannah ran for office, she'd probably win.

The closer I got to Suzannah, the rockier my relationship with Rachel got. Not because of Suzannah, but because we realized that our needs were different from each other. I was not surprised when one Sunday in late November when Rachel called and said she was sorry, but she'd have to break it off between us. There was this guy she met at school, and, well she began to care for him as more than I friend...

"I'm sorry," she whispered one last time and hung up.

Soon, all there was left to remind me of our conversation was the steady dial tone that poured through the phone like many people mourning a great loss.

Numbly, I replaced the phone and did something I hadn't done since I was seven-years-old. I flung myself down on my bed and began to cry until there was nothing left and I was empty inside, as if all my feelings has been carried out and washed away by salty tears.

Chapter 6

The movie was good. It was only as we were leaving that I noticed how pretty Rachel looked. She had on a short jeanskirt and a pale pink sweater. She was wearing a pair of leather boots. I sighed. Happily, neither of our parents were here and we realized that the movie ended a half hour earlier than expected. We sat down on a bench and were silent, just enjoying being near each other. Rachel leaned against me and put her head on my shoulder. Happiness seemed to burst forth from me. The sunshine beat down on my back. I shut my eyes. I felt as if I would be content to sit like this forever. I wrapped my arm around her shoulders.

God knows how long we'd been sitting like that when I felt a tap on my arm. I opened one eye and there was Jeff.

"Hey loverboy, I hate to break it up, but really!" Jeff shouted.

Rachel's parents were pulling up in their car and I whispered good-bye in her ears. She smiled and got up. She walked over to her car and as she was about to get in, yelled, "I'll call you!" I waved to her and walked with Jeff to our car.

It was mom who was driving this time.

"Did you have a good time?" she asked. Then, without waiting for a reply, went on "Suzannah called. She asked if you could come over as soon as you get back."

"Oh, okay. It really doesn't matter because I was going to go over there anyway," I said.

The drive back seemed to take forever. I had a thousand questions to ask Suzannah.

The second the car pulled into the driveway, I jumped out and ran over to Suzannah's. When I got there, her mom told me she was up in her room. I raced up the stairs and down the hall. Hearing the racket I was making, Suzannah looked up. Her eyes sparkled and her face lit up when she saw me.

"So, how was it?!?" she demanded.

"It was great!" I exclaimed and settled down to tell Suzannah every detail. I told her about how great the movie was, how Rachel and I sat on the bench, and about some of the stories Rachel told me about Jenny and Jerry. Suzannah laughed at the memories. Then I began to ask her about Rachel, and if I should try to kiss her or not.

Suzannah frowned. She wasn't sure but said she would ask for me. I spent the rest of the day at Suzannah's house. We played Monopoly and later let her younger sister, Diana, play Clue with us.

It was a great Saturday.

Chapter 5

Saturday, was a bright sunny day, with a sky so blue it reminded me of Sarah's sparkling eyes. But I erased all thoughts of her and concentrated on making myself look decent. The phone rang and I answered it. It was Cassandra, a popular girl who had a huge crush on me. I couldn't stand her. Anyway, she said she just wanted to talk and I told her I couldn;t because I was about to go out with my girlfriend, whom I liked a lot. Cassandra sounded hurt as she said good-bye. I suppose I should have felt bad about being so mean, except that Cass (as she was called) was a snob who really mean to Suzannah.

I broke away from my thoughts and glanced at the clock. It was time to leave. I went downstairs and told dad that it was time for him to take me to the movie theatre. Of course, Jeff decided to come along. It was a short drive to the theater, but Jeff teased me every bit of the way. Finally, dad pulled into the parking lot of the New Orchard Theater. I opened the car door to get out, when dad told me to have a good time.

"Remember son," he said, "don't do anything I wouldn't do!" He began to laugh hysterically at his own joke.

"Good-BYE dad!" I said, quite annoyed. He drove away.

Rachel was waiting in front of the theatre. She had bought a ticket for herself already. I figured she would, she and Suzannah (especially Suzannah) were heavily into Women's lib. I bought my ticket, took her soft hand, and we went into the theatre together.

There were ten minutes before the movie started, we bought a large popcorn to split, and settled ourselves down. We began to talk about Suzannah.

"I'm so glad you became friends with Suzannah," Rachel began, "otherwise we may have never met."

"How did you meet her?" I asked. It was something I had been wondering about lately, but never remember to ask about.

Rachel smiled. "When I was in seventh grade, two years ago, I switched hebrew schools. I felt as if someone was watching me, so I turned around, and sure enough, there was Suzannah. She smiled at me. Later, I was asking the teacher for help, when suddenly Suzannah sprang up from her seat and offered to help me instead. The teacher told us to work together. At first we worked, but then we began copying each other more than working, and finally we just gave up and talked. We've been friends ever since."

"Wow!" I said. For some strange reason, I was impressed by the story.

Rachel went on. "Together, we made quite a few enemies and friends. This girl Amanda was one of the enemies we made. Along with her pudgy friend Mara, and her shrimp pal Leslie, they were determined to make out lives miserable. It worked for a few weeks until we began laughing at them and making them look stupid. There was Sandy, who made a total fool of herself by trying to argue with Suzannah. Suzannah is the best arguer in the world, and even if she's wrong, she always comes out looking right. Anyway, we made friends, too. There was Jerry, who I briefly went out with, and Jenny, who wasn't really a friend in the end. Man, could I tell you stories about Jenny!"

I was about to reply, but the lights dimmed and the movie began. I put my arm around Rachel and concentrated on the movie.

Chapter 4*

The days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. Suzannah was right. I soon found myself caught in the fast-paced movement of the popular crowd. Suzannah and her friends were the enemies of practically every popular girl. It seemed to be that while all the other girls tried to butter up with the popular ones, Suzannah and her group weren't afriad to criticize them. Amazingly, enough, I remained friends with Suzannah. The popular guys thought that Suzannah herself was OK.

A few times at first, Scott tried to get me to be friends with him. But Suzannah was always there, ready to scream, "Oink, oink!" at him if he even got near me. I was greatful to get away from him. As the month led into October, however, he began to leave me along and I began to help Suzannah torture him. We sat together on the bus and every morning Suzannah found new ways to stick out her foot so he would trip every time.

On a frosty weekend in mid-October, I met Rachel for the first time. It was a Saturday and Mom sent me over to the Rawlings to borrow an egg for the cake she was baking. When I rang the doorbell, Suzannah answered. Behind her stoof a tall girl with dark brown curly hair.

"John!" Suzannah exclaimed with delight. "This is Rachel. Rachel, this is John. He's the one I've been telling you about. You know, the one who moved into Catherine's house?"

Rachel nodded and said hi. Me? I was thunderstruck by her. I smiled and said hi and got to the point of why I was there.

Suzannah gave me an egg and told me to come back after I delivered the egg to Mom. I had every intention of coming back, but I just coolly nodded and said "Sure."

Rachel, it turned out, was just as great as Suzannah had said she was. They were a lot a like. Suzannah and Rachel both had the same "demented" sense of humor, as Suzannah called it. I spent the whole afternoon at the Rawlings' house. Rachel was sleeping over and Suzannah teasingly asked me if I wanted to, too. It would up that I stayed for dinner and my mom forced me to come home at 8:00. But I didn't leave empty handed, I had Rachel's phone number.

That Monday was the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur and we went to temple with the Rawlings, and Rachel's family. I never enjoyed services before, but Suzannah and Rachel made it tolerable, even fun. That night, as the day's fast ended, we celebrated life at the Rawlings. It was the best Yom Kippur ever. I began to even look forward to the holiday's that we went to temple on.

School went on, and I was sure Suzannah had fallen for Arnold. I hoped not, because I didn't think Arnold liked her as more than a friend. I decided to ask her about it, but when I did, Suzannah laughed it off and changed the subject.

"John, you know that Rachel likes you a lot?"

That caught my attention. Suzannah smiled slyly and went on.

"Well, why don't you ask her out?"

The idea has gone through my head several times, but I had dismissed it. Rachel was a few months older than Suzannah and therefore was a freshman in high school.

"Are you sure she'd say yes?" I asked.

Suzannah sighed. "If I wasn't 100% positive, I wouldn't have brought the subject up." She sounded vaguely annoyed.

We had that discussion at the bus stop that morning and all day I thought about it. Later, on the way home from school, I told Suzannah I'd go for it.

She slapper me on the back in an over exagerated congratulation and said, "all right!"

That night I was really nervous. I could barely eat dinner and several times mom asked if I was feeling all right. At 7:30 I went into my bedroom and locked the door. I sat down on my bed, and slowly I picked up the phone and dialed Rachel's number. Her mom answered.

"Hello, is Rachel there?" I asked.

"Just a minute," she replied and in the background I could hear her call Rachel and tell her that someone was on the phone for her.

In a few seconds, Rachel was on the line.

"Rachel, this is John." I said. I felt my face turn red.

"Oh! Hi!" she seemed glad to hear from me.

For a few minutes we talked and then I dropped the bomb.

"Uh, Rachel, tomorrow's Saturday, right?" I didn't wait for an answer. I swallowed hard. "Do you wanna got out?" There! I'd done it.

There was a squeal of delight from the other side of the phone. "That's be great! Do you want to see a movie?"

We agreed on a comedy playing at the local theatre. After coming to agreement, we talked for a half hour until my mom yelled at me to get off the phone. I knew the very next thing Rachel would do was call Suzannah. Later, I found out I guessed right.

*Author/transcriber's note: The original text includes two chapter fours, so I will here as well.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chapter 4

The day was a good one and when I got home, Mom was thrilled to hear about all the friends I made. (I had made a lot.) I told mom about Dan and Arnold, and I told her about all the warnings I got about Scott, and most importantly, I told her about Suzannah. I had found out quite a bit about her from the guys. I found out that she was a die-hard Cub fan, that she was exceptionally smart, that she was loud, and that she loved a good arguement.

Later that evening, the doorbell rang. Mom went to answer it and when she did, she saw a girl and her mother. The girl smiled and introduced herself as Suzannah Rawlings and the woman as Gail Rawlings. Mrs. Rawlings carried a potted plant and presented it to Mom as a welcoming gift. I casually sauntered over to the door. Suzannah spotted me right away and said hi. Mom invited them in and asked Mrs. Rawlings if she'd like some tea or coffee. For the next hour and a half mom and Mrs. Rawlings chatted and Suzannah told me, in great detail, about each of the kids in eighth grade.

After awhile, Jeff barged into my room, took one look at Suzannah and began screaming "John's got a girlfriend! John's got a girlfriend!"

This annoyed Suzannah to no end. She looked as if she might kill him. Jeff saw her expression and instantly shut up. Then Suzannah's mother called down the hall, saying that it was time to leave.

After they left, I sat in my room for a long time and thought about what Suzannah had told me. She said that a lot of girls thought I was cute and the guys seemed to like me. She told me that before the month was out, I'd be very popular, but she hoped that we could be friends.

She told me about her friends. She didn't seem to have to many from out school, but had quite a few from the neighboring suburb of Skokie. Her best friend had moved to Florida when she was in third grade, but they still remained best friends. Her other best friend lived in Skokie. Her name was Rachel. According to Suzannah, Rachel had curly hair and was very pretty. It wasn't until quite a few weeks later that I got to meet her.

It seemed though, that Suzannah had had two ex-boyfriends. One she hated, the other she was still very good friends with. I thought about my old girlfriend Sarah and how I sometimes missed her after we broke up. I'd never spoken to anyone about Sarah, but Suzannah made me open up. It was like we had instant rapport. She had listened sympathetically to my as I told her all about Sarah.

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like I had known Suzannah for years and years. That night, I went to sleep with a warm feeling, knowing that I had at least one friend to fall back on.

Chapter 3

I followed Suzannah through several sets of double doors, down the hall, and up a flight of stairs. She turned to the first door on her right and went in. I could see her deep, thoughtful eyes soak up every detail in the room. The boys, it seemed were sitting on one side of the room, the girls on the other. In a quick glance at me, Suzannah told me that she thought it would be best if I sat with the boys. I recognized a reddish-blondish haired kid from the bus and sat down next to him. The kid turned to me and said his name was Dan. He pointed out several other kids, then proceded to ignore me by starting a conversation with an oriental boy named Arnold. It was about the Cubs. I happened to be a die-hard Cubs fan, so I joined in. We talked for awhile when Dan said that if I really wanted to talk to a die-hard Cub fan, I should talk to Suzannah. She was practically a Cub historian. In a way, I wasn't surprised. Suzannah did seem to be different from most girls. I peeked over at the other side of the room. Suzannah was listening to our conversation. She seemed to be watching Arnold. I made a mental note to myself to ask her about it.

Just then the bell rang. School has officially started. We had to fill out various sheets and people were comparing schedules and in the general confusion, I forgot my question.

It turned out that Suzannah and I were in a lot of the same classes. I was really glad because over anyone else at that school, Suzannah fascinated me the most.

Chapter 2

August went by quickly, and with September, came school. I had not been looking forward to the first day, and when it arrived, Mom has to reassure me several times. All too soon it was time to leave for the bus. I was not worried about getting lost in the new school, because I had gone there before to register and fill out forms about which electives I wanted to take, etcetera, etcetera.

Anyway, as I neared the corner in which I was instructed to wait for the bus, I'd noticed a girl there already. I could see that she was short, about five feet at the most. She had dark brown hair, so dark that it was almost black, and she was wearing mirrored sunglasses. She had on a blue jeanskirt and was wearing a white tanktop. She seemed to be studying me as I studied her. When I was fully at the corner, she smiled and said hi.

I said hi back to her and then she introduced herself.

"I'm Suzannah Rawlings. I live down the block about six houses away from you. Really, I should be mad at you since you moved into my best friend's house."

I did not know what to make of this, but Suzannah seemed like an interesting person. She certainly had displayed a strong personality in that last sentence.

After I didn't reply, Suzannah lifted her sunglasses up, and placed them on top of her head. I noticed that her eyes were a deep brown and big, like the kind a deer has. She cocked her head to one side and impatiently waited for me to introduce myself.

I thrust out my hand. "I'm John Stein. Nice to meet you."

Suzannah grasped my hand firmly and shook it. "A pleasure, I'm sure." She flipped the sunglasses back down over her huge fawn brown eyes.

"I don't mean to give a bad impression of it, but I hate this school. It's the pits. No one's ever heard of it." She sighed.

The big yellow bus rolled to a halt at the moment, and we boarded. Suzannah plopped down in an empty seat and motioned for me to sit next to her. Quickly, I did so and the bus gave an uneven lurch forward.

As the bus lumbered on down the street, Suzannah began to talk again. First, she asked to switch places, so she'd be on the aisle. After doing so, I started to ask why, but she had already begun to talk. I got the feeling that when Suzannah Rawlings spoke, people usually listened.

"As you know, my friend and loyal ally Catherine has moved and we always sat together," here she paused as if reflecting on the past, "and we made a great team."

The bus made a jerky stop and a awkward-looking kid got on the bus. I now found out why Suzannah wanted the end seat. At the last minute, she stuck out her foot and the kid tripped and almost fell flat on his face. She then preceded to say, oink, oink, little Scotty," until his face turned tomato red. Personally, I was disgusted. My impressions of Suzannah changed and I did not want to sit with her any longer. Suzannah took one look at me and knew what I was thinking.

"Let me finish explaining!" Suzannah exclaimed. "That was Scott Oaks, the biggest nerd in our school. Last year, he caused a lot of trouble for Catherine and me and we vowed to get him back. If you want to know what he did, I can tell you later, OK?"

I decided I liked Suzannah again. So I asked her whose homeroom she was in. (Murphy School is very small and has only three 8th grade homerooms.)

She snapped out of her thoughts. "I have Goodson, what about you?"

"Same!" I replied. Her face brightened.

"Basically, it's a real good class this year. I went through hell to find out who was in whose class, but it was worth it. Stick with me, I'll show you where we go."

With those words, the bus sharply pulled up to the front of the school and slowly opened its squeaky doors.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chapter 1

It was the late summer when we moved into the rich suburb Wilmette. From what mom had told me about it, I figured we'd have a huge house with a large backyard. I was sorely disappointed. Our house was a brick bi-level with a cinnamon brown roof. The kitchen was small, but we had a separate dining room. The living room was medium sized and there was a white foyer floor by the front door. The walls were a white-and-blue smear, and our rust colored sofa clashed terribly with it.

There were three bedrooms upstairs and a peach colored bathroom. The countertop was stained pink in places where nailpolish had been spilled. There was mold forming on the ceiling over the shower,and the tile had a few mildew stains on it.

Personally, I did not see what was so great about the house. It was just an ordinary one to me. As I pondered this point, I wandered downstairs. Mom was stacking up dishes in the cupboard. For awhile, I watched her, and then, just to annoy her, I asked her why we moved here.

"John! How many times do I have to tell you!" she began irritably. "We moved because your father got a promotion, because the neighborhood is nice, and because the educational facilities are among the best in the country!"

I didn't see what was so great about the neighborhood, and I told mom this. Besides, if dad got such a great promotion, why couldn't we have a bigger house?

Mom sighed. "Look, I know this is hard for you. You're going into eighth grade without friends, but give it time. I'm sure you'll make plenty of friends, OK?" Mom hugged me.

Bored, I headed back to my room to begin to unpack. I hadn't been up there before, and that was a good thing, because I couldn't believe what I saw. I'm the oldest child in the family, so I got the 2nd biggest room. (My parents got the biggest.) Apparently, the oldest child of the previous owners had been a girl. The walls were covered with white wallpaper with various colored hearts printed on it. I vaguely remembered dad telling me we'd have to repaint my room. He'd said it was girlish, but I didn't think it would be this bad! Unhappily, I pushed my bookshelf against one of the walls and began to take out my books, soccer trophies, and the other miscellaneous things that I kept on the shelves. It was slow work and I was about to put Encyclopedia K on the bottom shelf, when mom called us for dinner.

We ate off paper plates and dad had gone to a place called Irv's Red Hots to get hot dogs and fries. The neighbor highly recommended Irv's to us, saying they were the best Chicago hot dogs. She was right, they were great.

Half way through his third fry, my younger brother Jeff looked at dad and declared that he could not use the room dad had given him.

"Why not?" Dad asked.

Jeff blinked. He looked annoyed. "Because the walls are light purple and the rug is pink!" Jeff stated as he made a barfing motion.

"Don't worry honey," Mom softly reassured him, "Soon we'll go out and get new paint and carpet."

We ate the rest of the meal in silence.

After dinner, we watched television and I went to sleep around 11:30. My first day had ended as peacefully as it had begun.