Beneath the Wind
Danielle R. Morrow
Fall promotes change and whether we are inclined to welcome it- change occurs. It occurs within each season, within each year. We, in our own right, are a small part of history, a fragment of what makes this universe as a whole turn.
Truthfully, my childhood was normal, family and tons of friends. At the time my best friend and I were making unrealistic plans to marry John Taylor of Duran Duran and nothing else mattered.
The wind shifted, and I began to walk along an old road; the road that paved the way to High School. How many times did I tread through the rain, sleet, and snow and never really look at the beauty that nature holds.
I saw a leaf flutter from a tree branch, the colors tawny and fire red. Part way to the ground, the wind picked it up and mixed it together with others, swirling them around each other, occasionally skimming the ground. Before the leaf could rest, another gust of wind came from the east, and carried it up the street.
At that very moment, I understood. I was that leaf, descending then swirling in the wind. That wind was Michael. It seems that sometimes in falling, one can rise above.
In that year, everything that could go wrong did.
I picked up the phone, "Hello."
“Are you busy?" Charline asked. She lived across town. My first year in high school, we were placed in the same class and automatically became kindred spirits.
“I know who he is."
“Who are you talking about?"
“The next door neighbor," she said.
“My new neighbor."
“Charline, you moved three blocks," I reminded her. "It’s not like you moved to another planet."
I could hear her struggling to catch her breath between laughs. "Will you listen to me?"
"He was really hungry because he got locked out of his house," she continued, "He has the most beautiful eyes. He is so tall, taller than what I thought. He’s over six foot." The tone of her voice announced that she had already developed a crush on him.
However, my experience with Charline reminded me of her taste in guys, it ranged from Revenge of the Nerds to descendants of Bigfoot.
"Did you happen to get his name this time?"
I whispered his name and continued to talk to Charline until my mother returned.
"How is your homework coming along?" My mom asked.
I growled. As I stared at the empty piece of paper, tomorrow seemed more promising. What my mother did not know would not hurt her. "All finished" I lied.
"See, I told you once you get your mind set…” My mother uttered perfunctorily.
Mind set indeed. I neglected to confide in my mother that I was failing and that I hated algebra. I got more thrill in writing stories to my friends than I did anything else.
It was destiny that weighed on my shoulders. High expectations forced me to pursue a career in business or the medical field. It bothered me that I could not find my way. Debbie, my cousin, graduated first in her class from Mount Aloysius College and climbed the corporate ladder. Doug, in his last year of nursing school, has already landed a job working with a physician. And Jimmy was majoring in electrical engineering.
I tried hard to follow in my cousin’s footsteps but I longed for something magical to happen, something that would make me view the world in a different light, beyond figures and illness. Surely, I would be the one to fall flat on my face. I often wondered how much success was needed to move to England and become a beach bum.
After staying up most of the night reading, morning came abruptly and I staggered through most of the morning. Now I was in the most dreaded class of the day- algebra. It never took long for my mind to drift to a faraway place. I paid no attention to the teacher attempting to gain my attention. All I wanted was to find the ocean and sink my feet into warm sand.
He finally got so frustrated with me, that his voice pierced though the walls of my daydream. I looked up at him. "Yes?" "Can you help us out? What answer did you get?"
I am sure even to this day that he knew I did not have the answer but took great pleasure in watching me squirm. Just as I was about to answer, the bell rang for lunch. I gathered my notebook and headed out the door, and entered the hallway polluted with students. Heading in my direction was a young man who was so tall that he rose above the throng. As he approached me, like a whisper from an angel, I knew who he was.
Before I could stop myself, I yelled out to him, "Michael."
He turned around and I swear I heard an imaginary door opening. Michael, not knowing who I was, flashed me a strange look and moved on. The impulse that had struck me was so powerful. Embarrassed and not quite understanding what had overcome me, I tried to shrug it off, believing that I would never set eyes on him again so it did not matter.
I was wrong.
It was then that I realized that someone up above took humor in my situation, so much so to alter my direction in life.
Unable to withstand the pressure any longer, I told my mom I could not handle this Algebra class, so down to the guidance office I trudged, asking to be moved to a different math class in the same hour.
With my head hung low, I entered my new class slowly, interrupting the lesson. The teacher took my pink transfer paper and made a casual gesture.
The teacher took out his chart, "There is only one seat left. You are clear in the back behind that young man."
Looking in the direction he pointed, I had to blink several times to make sure I was not hallucinating. I tried to decipher how this happened, how I ended up with the young man in front of whom I had completely humiliated myself. But most of all, how in the world did I end up sitting behind him.
I do remember, even to this day, that I wanted to find the nearest desert and bury my head in it.
Slowly I moved back, the entire time wondering if he associated me with the other day. When you assume, you can make an ass out of you… floated in my head.
I looked at him, discovering the intensity of his blue eyes. Contrary to my first image of what he looked like- he did not resemble Revenge of the Nerds or any descendants of Bigfoot.
"Aren’t you …"
All I could do was nod.
I longed for my yet unseen refuge, the ocean. What I did not know is that through him, my ocean would come alive. People search for their soul mate, dream about the power, the impact the meeting will have. I was never prepared.
In the years to come, Michael would show me a different world- a beautiful world.
Just like the wind that picked up that leaf, and carried it to and fro, such was the way love between Michael and I went. Yet no matter where I go, I take a part of him with me - always.