Teen Angst

Contributor: April Winters

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The day she walked into the high school cafeteria, Michael fell in love for the first time. Tall, naturally blonde, and blue-eyed, the girl was a knock-out in Michael’s eyes. I wonder what grade she’s in, he thought.

He found out soon enough when she strode into his tenth grade Geography class well after the bell rang. She handed Mr. Jacobs a piece of paper. He glanced at it then placed it on his desk. “Boys and girls,” he said, “this is our new student, Tammy Remington. Her family’s been stationed here for a while; her father’s a military man.” Then he told Tammy to take the seat behind Joe Raver. Michael cursed the fact that his last name was Connors, wishing it was something with an ‘R’ that would have let her sit in front of him.

Michael, quiet and shy, developed into the class clown. He’d do silly stuff to get Tammy’s attention, like pretending to trip then bumping into a nearby student. Or throwing his hand in the air and asking ridiculous questions when Mr. Jacobs called on him. Most of the girls clicked their tongues, but Tammy giggled. Michael loved her even more.

Tammy was in town almost a month when the kids buzzed about the dance, coming up the following Friday. Heart pounding, Michael mustered the nerve to ask her to go with him. She said yes. It took days before the silly grin disappeared from his face.

At the dance, they laughed and talked a lot. After the dance, he asked her to go steady with him and, again, she said yes. The grin reappeared.

The more time they spent together, the more Michael realized Tammy was not only beautiful, but she was what his mother would call ‘cultured’. Tammy had spent part of her life in Japan, Italy, and Germany, thanks to her father’s career choice. Michael was fascinated and wanted to know what each of those countries were like. Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, he’d never left the state. Tammy didn’t see the glamour in foreign life like Michael did. She explained how difficult it was to live in countries where she didn’t speak or understand the language and where she was so different from the other kids. She said she didn’t care for being an outcast.

When Michael and Tammy weren’t together at school, they were on the phone for hours each night. Everything was roses and rainbows for over a year, during which time Michael told Tammy he loved her and planned to marry her. “Gee, I don’t know, Michael,” she said. “I mean, I don’t want to hurt your feelings or anything, but we’ve never dated anybody except each other. I’m not sure we should tie ourselves down; I mean, we’re both still so young and all. Besides, my father would have a hissy fit if I told him we were engaged. I’m not even seventeen yet!”

“Well, yeah, but you’ll be seventeen soon; same as me. I don’t see what’s wrong with planning our future. Besides, I don’t mean we’ll get married tomorrow.”

“You’re right, Michael; I suppose there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just that my mother has told me as long as I can remember not to get married until I’m well into my twenties. She says marrying too young can cause lots of problems, and she doesn’t want me to ruin my life like she ruined hers.”

Within a week, Tammy broke the news that her father had been transferred to Arizona. She’d be gone very soon. Michael didn’t know how on earth he’d be able to say goodbye.

He wrote Tammy letters every day, but she stopped answering after the first six weeks or so. Heartbroken, Michael moped for months. Then his luck changed. His father’s health demanded a drier climate which made Michael happy because they were moving to a town in Arizona that was just twenty miles from where Tammy lived.

His mom and dad drove Michael to Tammy’s house a few days after the Connor’s settled into their new home. Michael thought Tammy would be thrilled to see him. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

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April Winters hopes to help people forget their troubles through her stories, even if only for a little while. Her other works can be read at The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Short-Story.Me, The Short Humour Site, and here at Linguistic Erosion.
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