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Election Day

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Last week:

The television is on but I am not paying attention to the panel of experts discussing the projections and the actual election results as they come in…. I decide to switch it off. I will know the final count before they do anyway….

…It’s strange, when I had turned around and seen a seventeen year old Christopher I had felt like the earth had fallen off its axis; yet every detail had been carefully catalogued in my mind….{{more}}

…I never got to crusade that night. He walked me back to the house. I had so many questions to ask: Why didn’t you keep in touch? What is Canada like? Are you still in school? Do you have a girlfriend?

…Unfortunately I was too shy to ask anything at all; but he seemed to have read my mind a little, I’d thought, as he’d apologised for never calling or writing.

“Canada was rough man…

“Kita, I had to come looking for you,” he had sighed deeply and gazed out into the darkness. “I am in big trouble and I need your help…”

People love comess. We take pleasure in the misfortune of others.

Before you knew it, Christopher’s name was all over the place.

“Me hear he tief an get send back,” I overheard Miss George telling Mommy. Her mouth was the fount of all gossip – constantly spewing forth ‘demsay’.

I was in my room listening. I shook my head slowly. They never seemed to get the story quite right. Christopher had given me his version the other night.

“The whole experience was just a nightmare. Especially after my aunt threw me out,” he’d explained.

“Your aunt threw you out?” I had questioned.

“Yeah, her daughter… well… it’s not important anymore….”

Of course as he’d said this my mind had immediately begun building various scenarios with a focus on one particular possibility – but I didn’t pry. I’d just dutifully continued listening.

“Anyway I didn’t know what to do… where to go; until one of my friends invited me to stay at his house. He lived with his older brother who was into all kinda,” he’d been looking for a word. “Nonsense!” he’d finally decided.

“Then things just really went downhill from there. I started smoking pot and I dropped out of school…. Then I got arrested for shoplifting….” he’d sighed and leaned heavily onto the plumrose tree beside us – as if he needed its sturdy support.

I didn’t know what to say. So many years had passed; he was a stranger to me and yet there was that undefined familiarity of past memories.

“I was fifteen at the time so I was handed over to social services. They put me in a home…” he’d moved his head from side to side as if trying to dispel the memory. “I hated it. I ended up being bullied and getting into fights…

A few weeks ago I met with my social worker. She was saying that she does not know what to do with me and I asked her… begged her, to send me home…. So here I am.”

An awkward silence had followed.

“Kita I know you are probably wondering why I am telling me you all this. I know I didn’t stay in touch; but I never stopped thinking about you… about what happened. The memories were like ghosts… haunting me and I just felt I needed to come back home to try and figure out everything. I need your help…”

I had looked at him, standing tall, yet suddenly looking frail in the dim throw of light from our porch lamp. I had nodded my head, affirming my support.

“Where are you staying?” I had asked.

“Where else? By my Dad and he is driving me nuts. I am trying to turn my life around and he’s just…” words ran out and his eyes wandered up to the sky.

“Listen, I have to go now; but I will see you tomorrow in school.”

“In school!?”

“Yeah…. I went to talk to the head teacher at Kingstown High and she kindly agreed to allow me to attend form five and sit my O’Levels.”

This bit of information had inspired mixed emotions in me. I knew that he was going to be an instant hit with the girls and I suddenly realised that in some strange sense I considered him to be mine and I didn’t want to share him.

However, in the weeks that followed, I was pleasantly surprised. Christopher didn’t seem to have time for anyone else. At break he found me; at lunch time he would be waiting outside my class. We would stroll through Kingstown chatting; bridging the gap of the years. We would study together after school. I discovered that he was a bit of a comedian. He made me laugh ….

Everybody had assumed that we were an item; but the truth is our relationship remained platonic for a long time… until the evening of my sixteenth birthday…

More next week…

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