Home > A Different Blue(11)

A Different Blue(11)
Author: Amy Harmon

Something slid down my cheek and splattered on my arm, and I shook myself, looking down in surprise where my arms framed the page Wilson had positioned in front of me. I ducked my head and grabbed my purse, surreptitiously blotting the moisture from my face. I grabbed my compact, checking my eye makeup for tell-tale streaks. What in the hell had gotten into me?! Crying in history class? I threw my purse down and gripped my pencil, determined to be done with the assignment.

“Once upon a time there was a little blackbird, pushed from the nest, unwanted. Discarded. Then a Hawk found her and swooped her up and carried her away, giving her a home in his nest, teaching her to fly. But one day the Hawk didn't come home, and the little bird was alone again, unwanted. She wanted to fly away.”

I stopped writing, remembering. I waited until Cheryl left for work and then I went into the bathroom and filled the tub. I stripped off my clothes and sunk beneath the surface refusing to think about Cheryl finding me, seeing me naked. My body had started to change and show signs of maturity, and the thought of anyone seeing my privates was almost enough to make me change my mind about what I was determined to do. I forced my mind up and beyond the dumpy bathroom with the peeling paint and the dirty linoleum. I willed myself to fly away like the hawk I had seen the day Jimmy disappeared. It had come into the camp and sat on a branch of the scrubby pine just above my head. I had held my breath, watching him as he watched me. I hadn't dared move. Jimmy had told me hawks were special messengers. I had wondered what message he was bringing me. Now I knew. He was telling me Jimmy was gone. My lungs screamed, demanding that I lift my face from the bath water, but I ignored the pain. I was going to float away like the star maiden in my favorite story. I was going to drift up into the sky world and dance with the other star maidens. Maybe I would see Jimmy again.

Suddenly, I was being pulled from the water by my hair and flopped on the bathroom floor. My back was being slapped repeatedly. I coughed and sputtered, plummeting back to the earth.

“What the hell, kid!? You scared the shit outta me!! What are you tryin' to do? Did you fall asleep in there? Holy hell! I thought you were dead!” Cheryl's boyfriend Donnie was crouched beside me. Suddenly his eyes were everywhere, and he ceased his babbling. I drew my legs up, covering myself as I scooted to the narrow space between the toilet and the cheap vanity. He watched me go.

“You okay?” he eased closer.

“Get out, Donnie,” I ordered, but the coughing that wracked me weakened my demand.

“Just tryin' to help you, kid.” Donnie was peering at the length of my wet legs, which was all he could see at the moment. But he had seen it all when he pulled me from the bath water. I made myself as small as possible, my long black hair sticking to me in stringy clumps, providing little cover.

“Come on, little girl,” Donnie cajoled. “You think I'm interested in your skinny legs? Sheee-it! You look like a little drowned bird.” He stood up and grabbed a towel and handed it to me, walking out of the bathroom with a heavy sigh, an indication of how ridiculous he thought I was. I wrapped myself in the towel but stayed pressed into the corner. I was suddenly too tired to move. I was too tired to even be afraid of Donnie.

I thought I heard him talking to someone. Maybe he had called Cheryl. She wouldn't be pleased. They would have had to call her off the casino floor. I was forbidden to call her at work. I leaned my head against the cabinet and closed my eyes. I would just sleep here. I would wait for Donnie to leave, and then I would get back in the tub where it was warm and I could float away once more.

The bell rang. I threw my pencil down gratefully and grabbed my purse, abandoning the assignment as if it were burning me.

“Just leave your papers on your desks. I'll collect them!” Wilson called, avoiding having thirty pages shoved at him simultaneously.

He picked up the remaining papers quietly and halted when he came to the desk where I was sitting. I watched him read the line I added. He looked up at me, a question in his face.

“You haven't written very much.”

“There isn't much to tell.”

“Somehow I doubt that.” Wilson looked back down at the paper and studied what I'd written. “What you've written sounds almost like a….a legend or something. It makes me think of your name when I read it. Did you do that intentionally?”

“Echohawk was the name of the man who raised me. I'm not sure what my name is.”

I thought the bold statement would make him back off. Make him uncomfortable. I stared him down and waited for him to respond or dismiss me.

“My first name is Darcy.”

Laughter sputtered from my chest at the randomness of his response, and he smiled with me, the ice broken between us.

“I hate it. So everyone just calls me Wilson . . . except for my mother and my sisters. Sometimes I think not knowing what my name is would be a blessing.”

I relaxed a little, leaning back in my desk. “So why did she name you Darcy? Sounds pretty Malibu Barbie to me.” It was Wilson's turn to snort.

“My mother loves classic literature. She's extremely old-fashioned. Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy is her favorite.”

I knew very little about classic literature, so I just waited.

“Look, Miss Echohawk –”

“Ugh! Stop that!” I groaned. “My name is Blue. You sound like an old man with a little bow-tie when you talk like that! I am nineteen, maybe twenty. You aren't that much older than me so . . . just . . . stop!”

“What do you mean, maybe twenty?” Wilson raised a questioning eye brow.

“Well . . . I don't exactly know when I was born – so I suppose I could be twenty already.” Jimmy and I had celebrated my birthday every year on the anniversary of the day my mother abandoned me. He was pretty certain I was around two years old at the time. But he had no way of knowing how old I actually was. When I'd finally been enrolled in school they had put me in the grade below my estimated age because I had so much catching up to do.

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