Fourth in a Series of Reimagined Versions of a Scene from Reunion: A Story
Hey, you. Thanks for reading this. It’s Friday, April 14, 2023, and you know what that means. It’s #FlashbackFriday. Let’s go back to the last day of school, when we were young and stupid and brave. When we thought we could do anything and be anyone. When we made choices that changed our lives forever.
I didn’t plan to write Reunion as a book. I started it in 1987 – yeah, that long ago – as homework for my creative writing class at Miami-Dade Community College – South Campus. The assignment was simple: “Write a dream sequence or a flashback.” And I had one week to do it.
So don’t ask me what I was trying to say with Reunion, what themes or messages I had in mind. I didn’t have any grand vision or purpose. I just wanted to write something cool and finish it on time. I came up with a story that mixed a flashback and a dream sequence, beginning with the scene where Jim Garraty, my narrator and main character, wakes up in his room on his last day of school at South Miami High School – the same school I went to.
If you pick up the latest (2023) edition of Reunion, you’ll see bits and pieces of that old college assignment in the chapter called Journey’s End. Some of it, like Jim’s encounter with the hot cheerleader, is exactly the same as I wrote it in 1987. (The dream sequence, though, is totally different; in the 1987 version, Jim doesn’t dream about dancing with Marty, his crush; he dreams about having sex with a hot new English teacher. I got a B+ for that, but when I rewrote Reunion 25 years ago, I scrapped the sex scene and put in the more romantic one you can read now.)
Here’s OpenAI/Bing Chatbot’s reimagined version of Jim’s brief encounter with Ann Saroyan, captain of the South Miami cheerleading team, as written in the style of Anais Nin.
The Final Embrace
By OpenAI (Bing AI Chatbot), in the style of Anais Nin
I gave the yearbook to Ann Saroyan, the cheerleader (no longer a cheerleader) who had implored me to sign it. I had written something vague: To Ann Saroyan: You were a delightful classmate in English this year. You made it memorable! Affectionately, Jim. I closed the yearbook and gave it to her with a polite smile.
Ann Saroyan – she looked unfamiliar in casual clothes; I only knew her in her cheerleader attire – smiled tenderly. Her hazel eyes radiated with joy. “Thanks, Jim,” she said. She handed me my yearbook. She had written: Remember me always. Love, Ann Saroyan, Class of ’83.
“Thank you,” I said after reading her note and closing my yearbook. “Really.”
Ann smiled again. She looked stunning. I lingered for a while, still thinking how strange it was to see the muse of the cheerleaders in jeans and a plaid blouse. She was very alluring. She came closer and kissed me ardently on the cheek. “Goodbye, Jim,” she said softly. She looked at the clock on the wall, took her things and walked out of the classroom, perhaps to find more yearbook lovers.
I watched her leave, and after surveying the almost empty classroom – Mrs. DeVargas, my English 4 instructor, had gone earlier to get some tea so she could finish grading many final exams in the seclusion of the English Department office – I took my backpack, put my yearbook inside, and walked out into the corridor.
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