So it would seem, that the decision was not mine to make. But in the end, I too would
have to pay, for it cost me plenty.
For me, classes were always a pain in the ass. I wanted to get out and see
things. I hated being stuck in some room, gazing out the windows and thinking
of all I could be doing, and seeing. Mr. Bork was once again going on and on
about WWII and the horrors that came with it. He talked about the politics
behind it and the men who gave their lives for it. The experiments done, horrible
ones to the Jews. A creepy feeling that came over me as I sat there, letting
him drag me backwards in time to a place that I never been and would never want to be a part of.
After 45 minutes or so, the bell rang and I collected my book and pencils. Classmates
did the same and we all sort of raced out of the class. It's amazing how teachers touch
some students, while others leave what they've learned, tucked underneath the desk. I
remember that early afternoon very clearly, for it was the first time Cynthia Edward said
hello to me. She was reaching for her books that were under her desk, and had just looked up
in time to see me looking at her. She had a beautiful smile, and a pair of eyes that reflected
that of an angel. She never seemed to date or go out with anyone, always alone and to herself. She
walked along the hallways, saying hello to any and everyone she met. Many of the school's jocks and
upper classmates, wanted to take her out. But she managed to avoid them all, but never hurt or insulted
She was the kind of woman who carried a lure of mystery around her, like a glow that formed a
light mist should you see her in the dark. She also avoided the girls of the school. Many of
the girls would form gangs or clicks, pairing up and maybe causing trouble with others. but
for reason unknown to me still, none of them ever messed with Cynthia. It wasn't as if she
was a big and threatening, young lady, quite the opposite really. Small framed and very dark
long hair that always seemed in place. But it was those eyes, my god those eyes. They say
that eyes are the windows, to the soul. And if this is true, she must be perfection. I was
too shy at the time and for that reason alone, I blame myself. But, had I been a better man
of the time, I would have asked. I would had begged her to sit and talk with me, if only to
see those eyes and the beauty that came from and reflected, in them.
Life is what it is and I guess, that it has a way of releasing what it is to
those willing to await it's outcome. One early afternoon, she spoke to me. I
remember being so honored and joy felt. I tried to smile and listened to the
words breaking through those soft lips. Pleasure, the likes I've never known,
came to me, rushing at me and covering me. I focused every ounce of my attention
to her and tried to will myself inside her, though those eyes. What was it about them?
I still can not say. I was driven mad in a wonderful way by the vision they showed me
and the meaning of it all. The colors and hues that seemed to almost change with the
tides and moods, of this beautiful creature. I admit there came emotions of selflessness
and anger, to anyone interfering with my moments, with her.
I remember asking for some time with her. I didn't mean to imply anything but
what it was, time. Of course a minute with her, could last a life time and did.
But what I really wanted, was time with her. She was every bit a sexy and
desirable as any girl in the school. Her slender features, and stunning smile haunted
me for years to come. But on that special one afternoon, I wanted to sit and talk to her,
forever gazing in her eyes.
School was letting out for the Summer in 1962, I had spent most of my
high school years, trying like most, to find myself and decided where to go
from here. Many of my friends had settled on college. They were sharp students
with a flair for adventure, they seemed ready and willing for the next step in
education. I however, was not. I had tried and as far as I knew, done my best at
learning, but somehow failed. I walked along with others of my peers. Caps were tossed
and plenty of hugs and promises came and went quickly. The real world had come rushing
in and it took with it, everyone not fastened down. Within the first five years following
graduation, the fun loving class of '62 had lost seven of it's class grads. Two years later,
another four. Then came the real news that hit you broadside. Walking down the street, I had
come across Daren Ellis. He had played football and even sax for the band. He was the kind of
student, you knew had it together. I half expected him to appear on television, talking about
the rights of the people and how he, if elected would clean up this small town. Would
anyone vote for him now? He looked bad. His mind had snapped and he needed a bath.
I wanted to sit with him and ask him, what had happened. I don't know why this desire came
to me, it wasn't as if he and I were close friends, just classmates. But it made me so sad,
seeing him. His face had told tales that he would take to his grave. What had they done to
him? What had he done to himself? These question were never to be answered.
I later moved out West and met and married a young woman. She, was warm and kind and she
believed in a man, who was having trouble believing in himself. For my love, she gave me
two daughters and a son for which I named after my father. We bought a small house on the
coast and sent my children to local schools. We both worked, and after time saved and
bought a larger home, for our teenagers.
One afternoon, I had decided to nap in the backyard. I was resting when a thought came
to me. I hadn't been home in a long time, I mean home. That special place were you dream
and planned of your future, along with others. I suddenly had the urge to go home. What I had
here was warm and gentle. A life of good and not so good as the years had
showed. I was different, but never the less, the same. It's something about your home town
that lends itself to you but for a time. You grow and leave and find yourself
resting at some other place. Your life has changed and you've made new friends.
There are people you meet and love, for the adventures you have taken.
But there is something about home.
I kissed my wife and hugged my kids, my son had grown hair on his face, so we
shook hands. I told them I would be back Monday night and caught the first plane
leaving that Friday morning. My wife had dropped me off and kissed me goodbye, making
me promise to call the minute I got there, and I did.
So much of this place had changed. The buildings that once stood towering in the sky, looked
to be small. The corner store where Richard Maynard and I would go after school for candy
and snacks before making that long walk home, seemed so small. I walked inside half hoping
to see Mr. Fred. He was a nice old man at the time and little did he know, I never forgot
about him in the years that followed. Inside, was a young woman. I walked over and smiled
saying, "Hello". She put down the newspaper in her hand and smiled back, asking if she could
help me. I told her I grew up here and remembered an old man, running this store. I asked
if she knew him and she did. She was Mr. Fred's granddaughter. Her name was Sara and she
told me that he had died some 15 years ago. Heart attack, it was. I looked around the store
to see old pictures of him hanging and newspaper clippings, now framed. In my mind, he remained
as he was when I knew him, gentle and kind.
The streets had remained the same, but many of the houses had changed.
Some had been remodeled, while others extended with additions. The faces of
those walking and riding bikes, were foreign to me. These could very well be
the children of my old classmates, continuing the ever growing community of my
youth. I walked past my old school and was pleasantly surprised to see, it hadn't
changed. Brick faced and all, it stood. I walked up to it, it looked so small now.
Inside through the windows, the desk I had once sat in, were still there. Some had
been replaced and you could see new ones coming in. But for the most part, it remained
unchanged. On the walls were pictures of drawings, done by gifted students.
I walked around taking in everything. I wanted so much to be inside. I wanted to
break in through the glass window, and after unlocking the door walk in. I wanted
to sit down at the desk I bet was mine and think about all that came that year. I wanted
so much to remember those years and those people. I was thinking of everything that year,
and it included her. There is was again, memories of her.
I made my way out from the back of the school building and over to City Hall.
I wanted information. I walked into the building I had no use for as a young man. I
remember riding past this building many times on my bike, and later in my father's car.
For me it was a place were grown ups came to settle problems, I knew nothing of. But now at
49, I was ready. I walked in and rang a small bell on the counter. A middle aged woman with a
summer dress, walked up to me. I introduced myself and asked question about some classmates of mine
and if she knew or had information on them. I asked first about Ronald Howard. She told me that he
had moved out of state in 1981. She also told me that Greg Rollins still lived in town, but lost
the use of one leg.
I then asked about Cynthia Edward. There was a pause followed by silence. The woman
looked at me and told me that Cynthia had died in an automobile accident in 1984. She
was crushed by a truck, speeding on highway 233. I lowered my head. I wanted to walk away,
maybe even run. It wasn't fair, just wasn't fair. I got myself together long enough to ask if
she had married. The woman had asked me to wait one minute, that she would check. She came
back a few minutes later with a folder. She opened it up and began flipping through pages.
I could see different papers with seals attached. There were several of these and some were
copies of other papers. There was also an obituary that had been sealed in plastic. The woman
said that Cynthia had never married. She was very active in the Red Cross and spent most of
her time helping others. She told me that according to the papers, most of her organs were to
be donated to surrounding hospitals, to aid others. I cried then, I don't know why, but I did.
I didn't care what this woman before me thought, I just broke down and cried. She stood for a
minute, giving me the time she thought I needed, then spoke. "Is there anything else you'd like
to know sir?" she asked. I wasn't quite sure how to ask, but I needed to. I asked the woman if
Cynthia's eyes were listed on her donation card. She paused and for a minute, I felt ashamed.
She looked down and checked through the remaining papers. She stopped and after checking one
page, flipped to the back of it. "Yes" she said. A woman name Elsa Hillshire. She's in the
nursing home in Glendale. I thanked her and left.
I arrived some hour later in the Glendale Nursing home on Peacock Ave. I walked in and
signed my name. Another woman, this one heavy set, sat behind a glass window. I asked
if Elsa Hillshire was here. The woman smiled and said "Oh Elsa, yes she is. Down the
hall and to your left, room 147. If she's not there, go straight past the room to the
patio, she spends a lot of time there, you can't miss her, she's the one with the pretty
eyes." She smiled and I felt my heart crack and break. I thanked her and turned making
the slow walk. Why was I here? What was I doing? What could become of this, was among
the questions I asked.
The room was empty, the bed made. I continued walking past other rooms and
in them saw the faces of old. These aged people had once ran through life with
excitement, bursting with desires and dreams, only to find themselves here, evidence
that life often plays a cruel and nasty joke. I walked out onto a patio where the afternoon
sun had blanketed it's warmth. I looked around to see an old man sitting at a table, with a
glass of orange juice. Against the railing, I saw an old woman. She was in a wheel chair
and had a white blanket covering her lap. I walked over to her and asked if I could sit
with her. She smiled at me and I saw those eyes. I stopped in my tracks, and my mind
froze in time. There was some scar tissue along side her face, where an operation some
time ago, had taken place. I introduced myself to her and extended my hand. I watched
an old shaky hand come from under her blanket, and reach out. I took it and held on to
it as I spoke. I asked her question about herself and the kind of life she lived. She told
me that she had once lived in Europe and danced in New York in the late fifties. I asked
her questions about her failing heath and she smiled. She told me that she had lost her
sight some years ago, and that doctors said there was nothing they could do. She had all
but given up on hope, when news of a donor had came. She had prayed for the chance to
see again and promised to never take advantage of sight.
I sat that afternoon, talking with a woman I had never met, never seen before.
Time had failed to remove the beauty born into the eyes of Cynthia Edward. She
was no longer part of those of us still living, for her time had come and gone.
I was no longer angry at God for taking her away. I don't know why, but as I
sat there, next to Elsa I could feel Cynthia with me. She had changed from the
person I had once knew. But as we talked and laughed, I had the feeling that
several things had happened. Elsa had the chance to see again and laugh again.
But I had done even better. I had the chance to finally sit and talk with Cynthia
Edward. No, it wasn't her in body. But looking at Elsa, I could feel Cynthia's soul, and it's reflection.
I'm not sure why I find myself writing only certain times of the year. It
seems that I can't get anything going any other time. But come fall, it comes
pouring in and the feeling is bliss. I believe dreams lend to me thoughts, that
become the stories I write. I have no idea why, but it does. I find myself
thinking more about life in the fall. Could it be because its near my birthday?
Or perhaps when my time comes, it will take place in the fall. If this is true,
it really would be most fitting. The title "Innervision" came from a Stevie Wonder
album from 1973. It would be many years later that I would find and listen to this
masterpiece. It became my most favorite album of his, beating out "Songs in the key of life".
There is one song that when I first heard, I feel in love with. It's called "Golden Lady" and
to listen to it, is to cry. For it is a song sung by a blind man, hoping to see a
woman of beauty with his mind. I hope to have done the title justice. Thanks for listening.