A Different Blue Page 42

“So what now?”

“That's why I'm here, Wilson. I don't know what now.”

“And I can't advise you since you won't tell me what the problem is,” Wilson plied gently.

When I didn't respond he sighed, and we sat, looking out over the street at nothing, our thoughts filled with things we could say, but saying nothing at all.

“Sometimes there is no rescue,” I concluded, facing what was before me. I still didn't know what I was going to do. But I would manage. Somehow.

Wilson propped his chin in his hands and eyed me thoughtfully. “When my dad died, I was lost. There was so much that I regretted about our relationship, and it was too late to fix it. I joined the Peace Corp – mostly because my dad told me I wouldn't last a day – and spent two years in Africa working my arse off, living in pretty primitive conditions. Many days I wanted to be rescued from Africa. I wanted to go home and live at my mum's and be taken care of. But in the end, Africa saved me. I learned a lot about myself. I grew up – found out what I wanted to do with my life. Sometimes the things we want to be rescued from can save us.”


“Are you going to be all right, Blue?”

I looked at him and tried to smile. He was so serious. I wondered if he had been less so when his dad was alive. Somehow I doubted it. He was what Beverly called a mensch. An old soul.

“Thank you for talking to me. Cheryl's not great with heavy conversation.”

“Did you try Mason or Colby? They seem well-suited to solving the world's problems.”

I giggled, the laughter easing the tightness in my chest.

“I've made her laugh! Brilliant! I am good.”

“Yeah, Wilson, you're good. A little too good for the likes of Blue Echohawk. But we both knew that.”

Wilson agreed, acting as if my comment was in jest. Then he stood, pulling me to my feet after him. He walked me to my truck, tucked me inside, and pinched my cheek like I was five and he was one hundred and five.

“Six weeks, Echohawk, and the world is yours.”

I just shrugged and waved, the weight of that world heavy on my shoulders and farther from my grasp than ever before.

Graduation was held on a late May morning out on the football field. It meant plenty of seats on the hard bleachers for family and friends and relatively bearable temperatures. I say relative because it was 90 degrees at ten am. I was extremely nauseous and the heat didn't help. I considered ditching, but wanted my moment. I wanted to wear my cap and gown, receive my diploma, and silently give the bird to all the haters that rolled their eyes when I walked by or thought I would drop out before the end of sophomore year. But I had made it. Just barely, but I had. Unfortunately, I ended up racing for the bathroom minutes before we were supposed to line up to make our entrance. I threw up what little was in my stomach and tried to breathe through the aftershocks, my stomach heaving and rolling like an angry sea.

I gathered myself together, rinsed my mouth, and dug in my purse for the crackers I had started to carry everywhere I went. I was almost four months along. Wasn't the morning sickness supposed to ease up by now? I ate a cracker, gulped a little water from the faucet – trying not to wonder how much chlorine it contained – and fixed my makeup where my eyeliner had smeared and left black smudges under my eyes. Then I slicked on some lip gloss, re-attached my sneer, and walked back to the cafeteria where all the graduates were gathered, only to find that they had left to make their entrance without me. I sank down at a lunch table and began to ponder why my life sucked so much. There was a lump in my throat that pounded with the ache in my heart. I couldn't go out there now. I had missed it.


I jumped, taken completely by surprise, and lifted my head from where I had cradled it in my hands.

Mr. Wilson stood about ten feet away, his hand poised on the light switch by the door closest to where I sat. He wore his customary pin-striped shirt and slacks but had left the tie at home. Most of the teachers played a role at graduation, whether it was collecting caps and gowns, mingling with parents and students, or checking for stragglers. It seemed Wilson was in charge of the latter. I straightened and glared at him, upset that he had found me vulnerable once again.

“Are you . . . all right? You missed the entrance. Everybody is on the field.”

“Yeah. I kinda got that.” The lump in my throat doubled in size, and I looked away from Wilson dismissively. I stood and pulled off my cap and tossed it on the table. I started to yank my robe off over my head, revealing the pink shorts and white t-shirt I wore underneath. We were supposed to wear dresses beneath our robes, but who was going to see?

“Wait!” Wilson called out, and he started moving toward me, his hand out-stretched. “It isn't too late. You can still make it.”

I had stood up too quickly, and the room swam around me. Ohh, please, no! I bore down on the nausea and willed it away, only to realize I wasn't going to make it to the bathroom this time. Throwing my robe aside, I raced toward the door, flying past Wilson, barely making it to the trash can before I threw up the crackers and water I'd just consumed. I felt hands in my hair, pulling it back from my face and wanted to push Wilson away . . . oh, please, no . . . but I was too busy shuddering and heaving to follow through. I eventually gained dominion over my stomach and wished desperately for something to wipe my mouth on. Almost immediately, a neatly folded square of cloth appeared in my line of sight. I took it from Wilson's hand gratefully. It was the second time I'd used one of his handkerchiefs. I hadn't given the last one back. I had washed it and pressed it, but I knew it smelled like cigarette smoke and I was too embarrassed to return it. I straightened, and Wilson's hand released my hair as he stepped back from me.

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