AS TIME WENT BY, THERE WAS A NATURAL SEPARATION that came with the changes in our lives. Sara was made to repeat a grade, due to a decline in her performance. The faculty knew of the difficulties she faced, but also knew what she could achieve; so they opted to give her a chance instead of graduating her and forcing her into vocational college. This separation in grades drove a greater wedge between us, but it never stopped us from seeing each other from time to time.
One of the incidents that marked a noted change in her happened a few months after a new teacher started working at our school. Mr. Mathews was the new Integrated Science teacher, who was a young college graduate performing his first teaching assignment. He was easy-on-the-eyes and a welcome faculty member under the age of thirty. When he showed up, there was talk spreading about Sara’s crush on him. What marked this evident was the fact that during one of his classes, she decided to profess her love for him verbally. I assumed that another student dared her to do it.
It was only when I had a moment to question her about it, she told me that she had to tell him. Once again I didn’t believe her, but I did notice that she was becoming increasingly erratic engaging in risky behavior. Not only was she talking about her love for this teacher. She also spoke openly about a budding relationship between her and a guy name Conner.
Days after that conversation, I was told by another student that Sara walked into the faculty break room and proceeded to do the same thing. This time only Mr. Matthews and a few other staff members were present. She was witnessed walking towards him with open arms begging him to hug her. The student described it in great comical detail and noted how the teacher tried running away, but was backed onto a desk which he fell over. After that, Mr. Mathews and Sara became the joke of the school. It was a funny incident, but I couldn’t understand why she did it. I always saw her as an attention seeker, but her behavior seemed bazaar.
The weekend after that incident, we got together, and I had to ask her what happened. Everyone started calling her crazy and indicated that her mother was a mad woman who passed on her mental disorder to her daughter. Sara never told me why she did these things and gave me little to no answers. The only thing she could tell me was her longing to grow up, and be swept away like the women in romance novels. She then professed the strangest thing I had ever heard from anyone in our age group. She told me that she wanted to be a wife and have a family, but most important was her need to find a man to love her. I didn’t think that anyone really thought of love or wanted to get married in my age group. I saw it as a waste of time and energy trying to encourage such a trivial pursuit of affection. I thought marriage was a thing you had to do when you wasted your life and had nothing else to give to yourself. Perhaps it was a carefully orchestrated way for women to seek out men to care for them after they found they have nothing to give to the world. She even asked me if I would ever get married and have children, and I told her with the greatest amount of disgust that death would be preferable. To soften my blows to her ideas about marriage, I told her that I didn’t totally oppose marriage, I only opposed the idea of her giving up on her dreams just for a man and screaming brats. It irritated me to know that my friend who once hoped for so much, now wanted to be a housewife.
I was mad at her for behaving in this manner, but a part of me felt like it was a faint cry for help. I didn’t know how to interpret it back then, so I left it there and started separating myself from her even more. It was easy to separate than try to find a solution. Her problems seem too large for me to fix as a child. I tried my best by helping her with her laundry, giving logical advice, but when it came to truly impacting her life, I felt that only adults could do that.
I often reflect on Sara at this stage and tried to figure out why adults didn’t take any interest in her. The reality was the fact that both adults and children teased and passed around rumors about her. They care enough to brand the family with an invisible scarlet letter, but not enough to investigate her strange behavior.
……To Be Continued…