“He’s tried to kill himself,” Kelly said. “Did you know that?” She was talking about R. who liked poetry and jokes about death and who she was dating. Until she started dating another R. who liked football and jokes about his classmates.
But I didn’t know this news about the first R. I also didn’t know if I could believe her. Not that she had a reputation for lying, but she told me many things I could never confirm and I couldn’t repeat.
“He’s very dark,” she said. “He’s really cool.” We were in the 9th grade. I didn’t think she should be telling this to me.
I ignored him most of the time because K. was my friend and he liked cool girls. I wanted him to like me, but I didn’t give much thought to whether or not I liked him. So I didn’t talk to him unless he spoke to me first.
The picture I’ve posted is so bad that I thought I could get away with putting him up for the world to see. A group of us were at the library and he had a stick in one hand and a rusty razor in the other. He’d found the razor in the dirt. He pretended to cut his wrist. I told him not to do that. It wasn’t funny. Laughing he challenged me to stop him. I said I would. He jabbed the stick at me. “No, you won’t.” “Yes, I will.” “No.” “Yes.” I grabbed his wrist and he jerked away. And away we went, but we were laughing.
Several times I tried to say hello to him in the halls at school, but he would nod and look the other way. Sometime after that Kelly and he broke up and she told that news about him. I never learned if what she said was true.
In real life I’m an expert at letting people not talk about things. If someone wants to be denial, ignore things, or lie, I let them. If they want to cry, rant, or tell the truth, I let them do that too. No boy, no guy, no man has ever heard me say anything along the lines of–“How do you feel about me?” or “Where is this relationship going?” or “Are you lying to me?” or “Why don’t we talk this over?” or, God forbid, “Will you call me?”
Maybe this is why I have trouble interviewing my characters. Though I’m intensely curious (please tell me!), it is hard to violate their privacy. Why should they tell me? I can tell it bothers you to talk about it, so lets talk about something else. This is not helping me finish my story. It isn’t easy to be nice and write at the same time. Perhaps I need exercises in being mean.