I never even talked about Cheryl much with “the girl who came after,” and – I don’t know why the fuck I did this – what little I did say was not true. I don’t remember what cockamamie story I told K the few times that she asked about the girl I had left behind, but I can tell you that I did not tell her about the pink sweater, or that I had cried myself to sleep three nights in a row before starting school at Tropical Elementary on Monday, November 13, 1972.
Auburn hair, loose, brushed Past fair shoulders gently spills Catches morning’s light
Winter’s coming nears Northern winds bring sad gray skies Tears fall like snowflakes
Autumn wind outside In class, young pupils study My gaze locks with yours
Blue skies and white clouds High above the packed schoolyard Below, sad goodbyes
Morning sunlight shines Casting shadows of the big trees, Two hands tightly clasped.
For Cheryl T…Wherever She May Be Winter’s chill comes now Pink wool sweater warms your skin Teardrops fall like leaves
As I stood there, Cheryl gave me a quick hug, then stepped back a few steps, her eyes fixed on me. Then, without a moment’s hesitation, Cheryl straightened up and unbuttoned her pink sweater. Even though it was cold and her blouse was made from the same material as my shirt, she doffed the sweater and held it out to me.
I must have shaken my head or made another gesture of protest because Cheryl looked at me sternly and handed me the sweater.
Knowing that I didn’t speak English fluently but intuiting that I understood body language, Cheryl mimicked someone putting on a sweater. She did this once, twice, and when she saw that I was reluctant to don the sweater – I didn’t want her to get cold, either – she did the Marcel Marceau bit one more time. “It’s cold, sweetie. Please, Alex, put it on,” Cheryl said.
I wanted nothing more in the world but to please her – and see her smile again – so I nodded in assent, took the sweater from her hands, and put it on, clumsily and with some effort because I was cold and nervous. It felt soft, warm, and smelled lightly like lilacs – not exactly a manly scent, to be sure – and it was the nicest thing that had happened to me at Coral Park since the beginning of the school year.
Last Time, on Remembering Cheryl T….. “You can love someone so much…But you can never love people as much as you can miss them.” ― John Green “There’s no love like the first.” ― Nicholas Sparks When I was nine years old and a third-grader at Coral Park Elementary School, I fell in love withContinue reading “Tempus Fugit: Remembering Cheryl T. – 50 Years Later, Part the Second”
Prologue: The Fragility of Memory One of the things that bother me about the nature of memories is how fragile, how unreliable, and woefully imperfect they are. Take, for example, my memories about an event that occurred when I was 20 years old – my last day as a high school student at South MiamiContinue reading “Tempus Fugit: Remembering Cheryl T. – 50 Years Later, Part the First”