The coolest hippie choker ever lies against my neck, yellow and green wooden beads strung on a piece of knotted leather, separated by washers and bolts, warmed by my skin, a gift from one of my father’s artist friends. Sighing deeply, I untie the knot and stuff it into my gym bag. Sweat, slamming lockers, the embarrassed turning of bodies to corners, avoiding stares at flat chests or big busts, nobody happy with their middle school body – my world. And, fear – fear of big, different, scary, not-my-friend, Delores Parker.
Flash forward one class period. Surviving Delores, relieved to hear the bell, I reach for my choker. Gone! Frustration sears behind my eyelids. I scrabble in the bottom of my bag, desperate to find it, certain my prized possession has been stolen.
Flash forward – a day later. Delores Parker, the hallway and my green and yellow hippie gear gleaming in the folds of her puffy neck. I walk past her and stare, but she doesn’t meet my eyes. She knows that she is flaunting her ill-gotten gains in my face. I am too weak to confront her but I am no snitch. She sails down the hall, not a care in the world, confident that her theft will go unpunished.
Flash forward – a year later – a new school, a new town and news from home…Delores Parker: dead from some dread disease; her life cut short, her future done and I feel…vindicated? That is too strong a word – confused? I ponder, in my secret, silent heart. Did she deserve this karma? Immediately guilty, I rewind and revise my thinking.
Flash forward – the yearbook dedication and her photo. I summon tears. I had no part in her demise. Vengeance is always the Lord’s.
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