I would like to ask your indulgence as you trudge through my poor narrative because I have little talent for language in general and less for telling stories. This project is being attempted under the encouragement of many who are close to me and whose judgments I have found heartily reliable in recent months. The tale is rather a good one, but I fear my weakness as an author may cloud its better qualities. You’ll find my pacing is sketchy, my timing awkward, my metaphors forced, and my moments of poetic alliteration somewhat cumbersome. I certainly do. But the story is intriguing and I am the only one truly qualified to tell it since I witnessed or experienced all the events first hand.
The difficulty in telling this story is that it is a love story and Junior High science teachers receive little training in writing about such emotions. We do learn to write, though. It is mostly scientific reports and not very creative, but it is exact and correct. And that is very important when telling a true story like mine. Therefore, you may be assured that my record is faithful. And since typing with prosthetic hooks in place of hands requires a lot of time and great care, any errors of print are solely the responsibility of the publishers.
I have heard that one or two other people, apparently more literate than myself, may attempt better, more polished versions of the events I have to relate. This prospect excites me in that it attests to the quality of the story itself. A more talented hand could probably better express, and possibly explain, the mental and emotional workings of a disturbed adolescent in love for the first time whereas I found that part of the narrative very difficult. I’d never been the object of a young girl’s crush before these incidents took place and it has been a very long time since my first boyhood infatuation. And of course I didn’t understand it even then. In the world of Junior High students such things are highly important; I’ve observed them repeatedly in my career, but I never dreamed they could be taken so far.
In thinking of possible improvements, I feel a gifted writer could probably do terrific things in the telling of that horrible argument in the middle of the quad. It was a memorable incident, but a real talent could probably bring it to life much better than I have. The image of Jennifer and Gregory screaming shrilly at each other, and at me, as classroom windows filled with curious onlookers, made for quite a spectacle. I am sure that being part of such a scene probably skewed my own perceptions of the event. A more objective and artful mind could improve its description.
I must also apologize for opening my story with that horrible cliché. Of course I will “never forget the day I first noticed Jennifer staring at me with that shy, innocent expression.” A man never forgets a pair of electric green eyes gazing at him in that manner, even from the face of a thirteen year old. Opening my story with that blunt, overly familiar phrase is testament to my shortcomings as a writer because I simply cannot think of another way to express the moment. Yes, if you are wondering, all the other students were watching me. I could hardly teach them if they did not. But, the look Jennifer gave me was special.
There are several such moments throughout my narrative but Dr. Harrison and the staff, as well as that attorney guy Mr. Meyers, insist I not worry too much about them because it is the accuracy of the account and my emotions which are most important. They have all been very supportive and encouraging throughout this project. And I do assure you that the account is accurate. Every detail is true. I’ve noticed Mr. Meyers punctuates his reading of my story with strange faces and heavy sighs, but you must believe me, it is all true.
After all, why would I lie about these things? If my intention in telling the story was to exonerate myself, I would never have admitted to stealing Jennifer’s class picture from her pack. I am certain I had a good reason at the time. I also would not have admitted to making my angel believe she was about to fail the course so she would seek my assistance. It is amazing what a person will do when the affection the one who adores him is suddenly cast in another direction.
Besides myself, the person I understand least in this affair is Gregory. I must admit to some negative feelings for the young man, but I have tried to portray his role in these events objectively. I can certainly understand his infatuation with our young jewel, but I simply cannot fathom why he should hate me so much and make me a victim of his anger. He caught me stroking Jennifer’s hair with my finger only that one time, and I stopped before she noticed. How could he have been offended by that? And I would never have failed her no matter how much I threatened; I am simply not that type of guy.
I have tried to contact Jennifer several times to see if she has any idea about what drove Gregory to pull that stunt, but she never answers. I am sure she misses me. Last time I asked about it, Dr. Harrison looked a little sheepish and mumbled something about her mother, but I did not quite catch what he said through his fingers. It is truly unfair the way they force this separation on us. I am sure that given the freedom, she would not hesitate to answer me. She would be happy to see how well I can type now and to know that some of the hearing in my left ear has returned. The nurses here would be thrilled to meet her.
Whatever feelings I may have towards Gregory, I have to admit he is probably the smartest boy I have known. I may not have understood what motivated him, but he understood me. He knew I could not pass that smoking garbage can without looking in. Whether he knew I would pick up the backpack inside is still a matter of litigation. If Jennifer had not screamed her warning, I would have finished opening the pack just as it exploded rather than dropping it, and I would be missing my head instead of just my hands. Yes, my angel saved my life.
Dr. Harrison informs me that Jennifer is doing well in her new home and adjusting to the change admirable. I knew she would. She is a very strong girl.
P.S. Gregory’s father did pay for the garbage can.