Dear Alice, I Must Explain…— Elaine Bonow
Dear Alice, I Must Explain…
I always hated being the odd man out. They were all such normal kids. They had two parents and at least two brothers or sisters close to them in age making them best friends as well as siblings.
After school the mother person would patiently wait for them with the windows of the car rolled down. Sometimes a friendly tongue-wagging dog would stick its head out of the window and bark when the child burst out of the school doors.
This was everyday life at Madam Curie Middle School until that one day which changed my life and is why I chose the path I’m on today. I decided to write to you because it is easier to explain why I am the way I am in writing that expose myself in person.
Oh yes, odd man out, that’s how I felt so many years ago. I was all of twelve years old. You never noticed me because I was in Mr. Farmer’s class and you had Miss Rose. If you had noticed me at all you too would have shunned me like everyone else. But I secretly watched you, the way you flipped your hair and snickered with your girlfriends. You were very popular. You had lots of friends; happy friends and your mother picked you up everyday in that yellow station wagon.
I remember you so well because I had a crush on you and would follow you around just to be near you, to keep an eye on you and dream that you might one day say hello. Stupid me. I don’t think you have any idea of what happened that day when Beau Cunningham’s dog escaped from the car window.
It was a dark brown, almost black Doberman Pincer who didn’t know it’s own power because it was still a pup albeit a very large and powerful puppy. You ran out of the front doors of school laughing loudly and happily saying goodbye to a couple of your friends.
I saw those enormous feet bounding towards you, its pointed ears pinned back and wrapped in white tape. He looked kind of crazy with flecks of foam flying from his muzzle.
If there is one thing I knew well it was dogs. My good for nothing parents ran a puppy mill out on the edge of town. Everyone knew about them, they were notorious and that’s one of the reasons no one wanted to be my friend.
I could smell the danger coming from the dog. Time slowed down, an uncanny sense of time that portended of doom. I threw my backpack aside and ran like hell after him scaring him around the corner away from you.
I managed to tackle him and bring him down. Out of the corner of my eye I saw you jump into the yellow station wagon and speed off to your ballet class. The surprised dog twisted his face around and sank his teeth into my cheek. His horrified owner screamed at me to leave her dog alone. I let go. She whistled the dog back to the car. “Here Sheba, come,” and sped away probably paranoid I might report her.
I shielded my bloody face with my arm. Everyone had vanished by the time I recovered enough from the attack and my adrenaled heart slowed down. I knew I would need stitches so I made my painful way home. My body was hurt but my heart was elated that it was not you lying there bloody, your beautiful face disfigured for life.
Well, that’s why I’m writing to you so you’d know just why I can’t go out with you again. I was overjoyed when you decided to have coffee with me and was probably the best hour of my life. Because of my shyness, I couldn’t bring myself to tell you all of this in person. The memory of my youthful crush was too painful, especially when you said, “I don’t remember your face Charlie, junior high was a long time ago. I might if I could see your face without the beard.”
So, you see, this scar disfigured me instead of you. My parents got busted and we moved to my Aunt’s house in Idaho after that fateful day. I was only able to feel comfortable around people after I grew the beard. I hope you understand. Yours faithfully, Charlie Silvers
P.S. The next time your dog needs a vet though, I will be very happy to take care of her, no charge.