>Photo from Washington Post Magazine story contest.
“Hello?” she answered.
“Hi, you probably don’t remember me, but”… replied in a raspy yet innocent tone. “We were in the fourth and fifth grade together.”
“What time is it?” She answered. “Oh, I’m sorry, it’s nine-o’clock there I think. It’s four in the morning here in Hawaii.” “Hawaii?” She answered. “Yes. Actually I’m in Wahuhu at the Hawaii Falls. I’m sitting here looking at the waterfalls right now. It’s unbelievable. I’m sitting here with my campfire in the foreground and the waterfall in the background. So, it looks like the waterfall is cascading into the fire. Well, you need a little imagination also. And I know you have a terrific imagination.” “Who is this again?” She answered. “Oh, I’m sorry this is…no, let’s see if you remember me. I remember you. I think about you all the time. I remember we used to fantasize about all kinds of stuff.” She rolls over, her long blond hair gently rolling over the silk sheets.
“I remember we made up our own cartoons. Remember? We made clay figures. They had little bodies with big round heads. We would use our two thumbs to form the face making the eyes and nose all at once; and get this, they were from Pluto! “What are you on?” She answered. “I’m on Maui, didn’t I say? I love it here. I’m thinking of moving here permanently.” He leans back in his hammock watching as the full moon gently floats over the waterfall. There are only two clouds and they seem to be escorting the moon on its cosmic journey. Oh my God, she’s right, I do sound pretty goofy (talking to him-self). “You don’t remember? We also fantasized about owning our own island. We made charts of it including quicksand and pineapple groves and waterfalls. I guess that is why I’m calling.” He takes a sip out of his hollowed out pineapple drink. No umbrella though. This is the real deal. Carve out the pineapple, pour in the rum, add back some of the crushed pineapple and viola, tropical concoction. No ice, no frills.
“Looking back, those things might have seemed a little masculine. Boyish, you know, I mean for you. But, we also had our own line of clothes that we designed, puffy sleeves and all. And believe me, with four older brothers, woo. You talk about peer pressure. I still hear about that at every Thanksgiving and Christmas. My brothers were good for me. They toughened me up. But, they also laid the groundwork for being able to get away with anything. They set a good example on what not to do. Most people say, ‘learn from your mistakes’. But, I had the advantage of learning from their mistakes.”
“I remember you wore this blue sweater that was sort of ‘close-fitting’. It was covered with white stars. I fantasized, privately, about that sweater with the stars being cut out of it; shame on me. I don’t think I liked girls back then. Well I guess I did.” She sits up. Looks at the clock and rolls her eyes back. She pulls the slinky sheets over her breasts. “What are you talking about?” she answered.
“I guess you don’t remember me. Boy, do I remember you. When I was in the Navy I wrote a story about us, sort of. May I read it to you?” “Do you have it with you?” she answered. “Oh, yeah. I wrote it a long time ago. Then it was lost. So when I found it some years later folded up in my “Walden” book, I said to myself that I would keep it with me always just in case. Since then I’ve been carrying it around, I’ve gone through four wallets and with each new one I print out a new copy. So, be patient and I’ll read it to you, it will only take a minute.”
“This morning was a beautiful awakening. You scrambled the eggs with cheddar cheese and I brewed some fresh ground Columbian coffee. I also sliced up some fresh fruit. We had breakfast on the back patio. The babblings of the Saint Francis fountain stereo’s with the finches on the feeder. Our old chocolate lab just lays there content knowing that playtime was coming soon. I read the Sports and you the Style section. I gathered and rinsed the dishes. You put away the leftovers. We settled back in to our lazy Sunday morning state. I look across the table through a bushy little gardenia. You glance back and wink. We silently agree a nap is in order. We snuggle and spoon until we doze off. The dreams we dream are coming true every day. Then, startled by the massive presence and the persistent licking of the face, we woke up.”
“That’s you and I?” she answered. “I guess and maybe a chocolate lab. I was thinking of you when I wrote it. As I go through life I meet various people. Never have I met a more beautiful, smart and friendly person as you. I know we all change a little with time. And maybe you have changed a little to the negative nature, but how am I to know until we meet again.” “Do you want to meet?” she answered. “Hawaii is great all year round. But, I’m here now. Could you get away for a couple weeks? I’ll pick you up at the airport.”
“Who are you again?” she answered. “Oh, that’s right, I didn’t say. I’m Billy Robinson. I sat next to you in the fourth grade and coincidentally in the fifth grade also.” “My goodness. How did you find my number?” she answered. As she awakens she remembers a little more and more. A smile comes to her face as she reaches to remove the sleep from her eyes. “I ‘googled’ you. All I had to do was type in your name and city and viola, your phone number came up.” “Are you the same Billy ‘the Bully’ Robinson that knocked me down and stole my panties?” …Click!
“Hello… hello?”… He answered.