Not Far

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  Not Far   The boy thought he knew the answer. He raised his hand. The teacher called him. “That’s close,” the teacher said. The boy preferred sums.   Later that day on the way home he encountered a really o...

 

Not Far

 

The boy thought he knew the answer. He raised his hand. The teacher called him. “That’s close,” the teacher said. The boy preferred sums.

  Later that day on the way home he encountered a really old friend from his first grade. He was at the same school but he hadn’t seen him for a while. They were a bit bashful at seeing each other.

 “I’ve got Lockhart for reading and writing,” the other boy said.

  “I’ve got Beaver.”

  “I thought Beaver was math.”

  “No way,” he said.

  He remembered the little Kenny Star.

  “Kenny moved.”

  “Yeah I know,” the boy said. “Not far from here.”

  “Not really,” the other boy said.

  They gave each other five and went their exclusive ways. Not far. Kevin Webb had drowned with his parents in the bay when their sailboat capsized. He always pictures Kevin under the boat drowning. Walking through the school halls. Talking to him. The sense of tragedy before he had ever used the word was a pervasiveness in his mind. Chris Walsh had died of an incurable disease. Everyone knew it was a matter of time. Chris was of weak and fragile constitution but he was very clever so found many ways to be better at basketball and tag football on the cement playground than all the other boys – he would slyly pass the basketball around his back from one arm to the other arm and his hands worked it like patient magicians, then the he would softly slip the ball off the board into the hoop, his arm up like a flower reaching towards the sky, a combination of arm and wrist and stretched body making it look easy as pie. Chris Walsh was a magician because he had to be. He spoke softly and in his own adult way to you ever without malice or anger or frustration. He was popular among all the boys; it never needed to be stated that he was the most admired and respected, it just was. His father was principal of the school. When Chris was dying he had his father invite his closest friends at school to come and see him at home. The boy wasn’t among them but knew the boys who were. One of them was his best friend Geoff Buck. He felt sadly hurt at a level that only that age understands the feeling as though it was not present but oddly there and keen. In the immediate days when Chris had died he wondered how his father was able to deal with it coming to school every day. Looking back he wondered what Chris would think of things now thirty three years later. He thought Chris was not meant to see it. He saw that Chris was not made for it, he was too strong. It was all very far away now and nothing to show for it. Except that it really was.

 

  He grew older and learned to forget Christopher Walsh and Kevin Webb. He like the others traded in their past for their presents in High School. That was when the new American era started. Nothing would ever be the same. But memories of Chris Walsh and Kevin Webb lingered in him with stubborn and bitter persistence. The world relearned itself into bad things and he felt bitter that it was not right to relearn this way that it was to dishonor the memories of Chris Walsh and Kevin Webb. But then Christopher Walsh and Kevin Webb were too strong to live to see it. The world had long forgotten them. They were that strong. It just was that way and always would be. It all really did happen. He had relearned with the world but he knew it and its consequences and he knew the magic had happened thirty three years ago.

 

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