Have you ever tried to think about how something began? You travel backwards through the memories, reliving every single one, but once you get to a certain point the memories become hazy and its hard to remember accurate details.
That's how my relationship with Chase was. We met in high school, I know that much for sure; but anything beyond that is beyond me. I can remember my life before Chase, and then my life after. And life after was anything but ordinary.
There was this group of people that I knew back when I was in high school. I wouldn’t say I was part of the group, I was more a part of the fringe, the pretty decoration just outside of the loop; the one person everyone saw but no one really paid attention to; but I was okay with that as pathetic as it sounds.
Chase was part of that group and somehow we hit it off. He was like a pesky big brother; always teasing me or pulling my hair or making fun of the skirt I'd worn that day. I know it sounds cruel, but it didn't bother me. I just saw it as his way of being nice.
Back in those days he never did anything to hurt me; well not intentionally at least. That was one of the things I loved the most about him. Chase would rather die than hurt me.
Eventually all good things must come to an end and my friendship with Chase was one of those things that eventually came to an end.
Actually that's an understatement. Our friendship came to a screeching halt one sultry summer afternoon.
My mom was at work and I was babysitting my younger brother and sister when the phone rang. I answered it with a harried "Hello?" then began screaming at my brother T.J. He'd taken a box of animal crackers from my sister Lynn and she was screaming and hitting him.
"Faith?" a male voice questioned.
"Yeah, who's this?" I asked, snatching to box of animal crackers from T.J.'s grasp.
"It’s Chase. Are you having a good summer?"
"Chase, is there something you wanted? I'm kinda in the middle of trying to keep my brother and sister from killing each other over a box of stupid ass animal crackers."
"Well, I wanted to ask you something, but I can call you back later if you want."
"No Chase, it’s okay. What's up?"
"Are you doing anything this weekend?"
"Yeah, babysitting my stupid kid brother and sister. And I'm still grounded for sneaking out last week. Why?"
"Oh, well never mind then. I can't believe your mom freaked out like that. What's her problem?"
Lynn started screaming at T.J. yelling at him to give her back her Barbie. "Chase, listen, I'm sorry, but I have to go. Can I call you later?"
"Yeah sure Faith. Don't kill your brother and sister okay?"
"Yeah, okay. Bye."
Later that night, after my mom had come home, exhausted and grouchy from her crappy job, I snuck off to my room with the phone and called my then best friend, Janelle.
She answered the phone with a prim hello. Janelle and I were as different as two people could be. I was the product of a weak mother and an alcoholic father, who’d left us right after Lynn was born.
Janelle on the other hand was born with a nice, bright Else Peretti Padova silver spoon in her mouth.
Well not necessarily, but her home life was a helluva lot better than mine. Her father was an officer in the Marine Corp, her mother was something akin to Susie Homemaker; she wore these crazy floral dresses, had the 50’s curls going on. She even wore a strand of freshwater pearls.
“Chase called me today,” I told her.
“I know he did,” she said snobbily. “I’m the one who gave him your number.”
“Oh, well thanks I guess.”
“Did he call you?” she asked.
“Yeah, right in the middle or World War three. He never really got to the point.”
“He said he wanted to ask you out,” Janelle informed me.
“Oh.” Damn, damn, damn. I should have known that. “He just asked me what I was doing Friday. I told him I had to babysit the mutants. That and I’m still grounded.”
“Your mom is still being a bitch about the beach?”
“Yeah. What the hell else is new? She acts like the world is going to end if I act like a fourteen year old. I swear to god Janelle, the second I turn eighteen I am so gone. My mom, this town, all of it can kiss my ass.”
Janelle snorted. “heard it all before Faith. We still have four years until we turn eighteen so just relax. Now, back to Chase; call him and see if you guys can go out another time. What’s the big deal?”
“I can’t see you shrugging Faith,” Janelle said sarcastically. “Listen hang up and call the boy back. I swear if you don’t you will live to regret this everyday for the rest of your life.”
Oh how those words haunted me. I didn’t call Chase back. I started to, six times. But each time I chickened out and hung up. Then my mother came barging in wanting to know why T.J. and Lynn were all bruised up.
I shrugged and then explained the animal cracker fiasco. Of course I was blamed for not watching them better, and of course she added three more days to my punishment. It wasn’t fair, and we both knew it.
“I hate you!” I screamed at her and kicked the wall after my mother had stormed out of the room. “I hope you die!”
Of course I didn’t really mean that, and I didn’t really hope she’d die. But hate her? You bet your sweet ass I did. I got blamed for everything; from the red sock getting thrown into the load of white laundry to my father leaving.
But this isn’t about my mom, or her lack of general parenting skills. So back to the point.
It took me three days to get a hold of Chase. It was summer vacation and he, as well as everyone else from the group, was busy spending their days on the beach while I was trapped at home with a ten year old brother and eight year old sister. And by the time I finally got a hold of him, he’d already set his sights on someone else.
I didn’t realize how much it would hurt until I came face to face with it. Hell, I didn’t even realize I liked him until it smacked me in the face. I tried, futilely, over the summer to get him to go out with me all to no avail.
I became angry. Angry at Chase, angry at Lena Henley, the new girl he was dating, angry at the group, angry at my mom and siblings and I lashed out.
Any time I saw Chase I was always nasty to him; I’d make nasty comments and just be rude. It didn’t help that I had to see him every day during lunch, all hugging and kissing on Lena Henley. I wanted to snatch that bitch by the hair and punch her face in.
Sophomore year passed in a flurry of bad Backstreet Boys songs and eventually my anger at Chase faded and he went back to being my buddy.
That summer the care of my brother and sister was left to my mother’s new boyfriend, Adam. Adam was a lazy douche bag alcoholic asshole, but my mother thought he possessed some loving characteristic so she kept him around.
I was free to be a teenager; at least for the time being. And once again all was right with the world.
Copyright 2009 by Elizabeth James as Common Law Literary Property.