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The Class of 1976
By Crystal-Rain Love
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
This was written in the beginning of my senior year of high school. My teacher made me read it in front of the class, and at Seniors Night at The Rudyard Kipling downtown.
I think it turned out pretty good considering I had to have a short story turned in for class the next day, had no idea what to do, and so I just opened up my yearbook and started to get imaginative......... edited & reposted 12/12/03. If you notice any grammatical errors or have any constructive criticisms feel free to share. I'll be entering this in a contest at the end of the month.
I climbed the steps until I reached the attic door. Upon opening, I was greeted by a cool gush of air. I pulled my sweater around me tighter as I switched on the light. Once the light was on, I saw what I had come for.
I walked over to the large wooden trunk and unlatched it as I kneeled by its side. My entire high school life was in that trunk. Old papers and souvenirs filled the trunk, along with pictures and letters. I had saved everything.
I rummaged through the cluttered assortment until I found a black and gold yearbook from 1976. It was worn down but still good. As I opened it to the senior class section, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of nostalgia. All the memories I had collected at Central High flooded into my conscience as I looked at all the young familiar faces.
Richard Humphries had just died. I received the call from my friend, Patty, just an hour before entering the attic. Rick Humphries, the biggest flirt at Central High. I stared at his picture through blurry eyes and studied his arrogant grin, a grin that I knew all too well. It was the same grin he wore while breaking my heart. It was also the same grin that he wore while bragging to his friends about the two, three, sometimes even four girls that he was juggling at a time. I wonder if he wore that grin when the doctor told him he had AIDS.
Two rows beneath his picture was the smiling, awkward face of Jack Hunter. A smile forced itself onto my lips as I remembered the way he pestered me all through high school. So annoying, but yet, sweet, he was always there to nag me. None of my boyfriends were good enough to Jack. He found fault in every single one, all except Wayne Morris.
Wayne was perfect. All of my friends loved him. When I met Wayne, he was living in a group home and didn’t have a single friend. His manic-depressive father had kicked him out after a stupid fight, leaving him homeless, depressed and lonely, but soon everything changed. Wayne got back on his feet and moved into an apartment, studied nursing, and became very successful in life. We were together three years before the accident.
It happened on Thanksgiving 1979. We were invited to his parent’s house for dinner but I declined. I talked Wayne into going without me, thinking that he and his father could finally bridge the gap between them. Later that night, his father got into a drunken rage and shot Wayne twice in the heart.
For months I cried, thinking it was all my fault and that I should have been there instead of going to my own family’s home. Maybe I could have done something to change that fatal night.
It was Jack Hunter that got me in to see a therapist. He heard about Wayne over the news and left his studies at the University of Kentucky to comfort me in my time of need.
It took about a year to get out of the depression that Wayne’s death had hurled me into. Although a year had passed, the newspaper reporters were still trying to get a story out of me. It was Patty who talked to them for me. She even wrote an editorial about Wayne and I, which for some reason, was picked up by every major newspaper in the south. It was one of those media crazed stories like Lorena Bobbitt and Amy Fischer. Everyone wanted to know about Wayne... so Patty wrote a book about his life. Patty made a lot of money off that book and moved to New York, where she launched her own magazine.
I flipped a page in the yearbook and saw Thomas Milligan's large, round face staring back at me. I laughed softly to myself as I remembered how he used to waddle down the halls. “Hey, look! It’s ten- ton Tommy”, someone would yell. Usually, it was Rick Humphries. Thomas would walk on by without uttering a word. I felt sorry for him as he passed me with his head hanging down in shame.
By 1986, Tommy Milligan was the slimmest, most well toned member of the Chippendales and in 1988 he started his first of five seasons, playing the hunky guy next door on a popular sitcom.
I continued to turn the pages, finding myself drawn back to my senior year.
Brent Jeffries, the spacey hippie who liked to get together with a group of friends and pass the bong, looked so innocent in his picture, smiling from ear to ear. I remembered warning him to stop his drug use but he wouldn’t listen. “I only smoke pot,” he would say, “It’s good for you. Nobody dies from pot.’ Apparently, he moved onto harder stuff because in 1989, he died from a heroin overdose.
Lisa Sinclair, all-American cheerleader and blonde bombshell, had one of the prettiest pictures in the yearbook. She came to Central during the last half of our sophomore year and immediately stole the heart of every guy that crossed her path. I hated her at first sight. She had the guys wrapped around her little finger and everywhere her skinny, perfect little body would go, their eyes would follow.
She stole Rick Humphries and countless others away from myself and every other female member of the student body. We were all so blinded by our jealousy that we never noticed how our glares hurt her. She had more suitors than she could handle, but not a single friend. Maybe that was why she committed suicide shortly after graduation.
Not a single classmate showed up for the funeral, not even the guys that did anything in high school just to have the chance to say that they were with her. I wondered what it must have been like for her, to be hated for the way you look, and to be admired by so many guys, only to have them forget about you once you were no longer needed to boost their egos.
Rather than think about the way I had hated Lisa for selfish reasons, I looked beneath her picture at Tammy Smith. I was a friend to her for two years. Born a preacher’s daughter, she was the most naive and wholesome person I knew... or so I had thought. She never cursed or misbehaved. In a way, she never grew up. Although she was two years older than me, she acted five years younger. I was glad when she started going out with Stuart Wicker. She finally quit tagging along with me everywhere I went. Of course, Stuart was the beginning of her downfall.
A few months after they started going out, rumors began to circulate about what exactly they were doing when they were together. Tammy wasn’t so naive anymore.
After high school, she had an abortion and joined the army, but sweet little Tammy couldn’t handle military life. She went crazy during basic training and was sent away to an institution, where to my knowledge, she remains.
Peter Starr’s picture was right next to hers. I remembered him always whistling and staring, irritating the hell out of me. “Hey sexy!” He would call out to every unfortunate girl that crossed his path. “When are you gonna come over so we can have some fun?” He had a million pathetic lines, which he used freely. He sat beside me in first period and except for his raging hormone problem, and his wondering hands, he was a decent guy. He just needed to be smacked a few times.
I wasn’t surprised at all when his first porno movie came out in 1979, or when he debuted his all- nude calendar, which featured a picture of Lisa Sinclair taken our senior year. I’m not sure if it’s true but I was told that Miss October was Tammy Smith.
In the right corner of the following yearbook page was Chastity Thomas. She always walked around the school building with her nose pointed to the sky, preaching her religious philosophies to all who wanted to hear, and to those that didn’t. She went on and on about God’s word and how she was the perfect follower of the lord, never doing anything wrong in her entire life. She looked down on anyone who didn’t agree with her thoughts and practically damned them to hell.
I never did like her. She was too religious; it was abnormal and scary. She never married because there wasn’t a man on Earth good enough for her, and she didn’t keep any friends from school because she eventually found fault with every one of them and told them that they were destined for hell.
In January of 1984 she finally lost her mind and formed a cult of lunatics that called themselves disciples. They went throughout the East Coast killing all the rich, gluttonous, greedy people they discovered, until they were caught in June of that year. Chastity entered hell by way of electric chair.
Beneath her picture was the smiling, somewhat cocky face of Gerald Thorne. He was a decent person. I got along with him fine although he did get on my nerves sometimes. He was constantly talking about the army and anything and everything having to do with the military. He joined the army immediately following graduation. College wasn’t even in his thoughts. He was born and bred to fight in battle if it were to come. Unfortunately, he never got the chance to prove himself the way he had intended. A clumsy recruit blew off his right arm during basic training.
He’s married now and has three children. I saw him six years ago at a Christmas party. He didn’t talk about the military at all.
Three rows beneath his picture beamed the smiling, flawless face of Jill Tucker. She was graced with a ravishing beauty and a body that demanded attention. She walked tall and proud through the halls of school, the only girl that didn’t have to worry about Lisa Sinclair stealing a man away.
She became a model after high school and had it all. Fancy clothes, cars, mansions, more than she could handle. When she turned twenty-five, her equally rich fiance took her, her friends, and her family on a two week cruise for her birthday. Three days into the cruise she had a little too much champagne and went tiptoeing on the edge of the ship. Everyone was asleep except for her jealous cousin, Renee, who later admitted that she stood and watched Jill struggling in the water after she slipped and fell.
Renee’s picture was right next to Jill’s. They had always seemed like such good friends. Who would have known that Renee harbored a jealousy that would lead to the fatal end of their friendship? I’m sure Renee thought about that a lot while she wasted away her young years in prison.
The last page of the senior section contained the picture of my best friend throughout high school, Angie Williams. We hung out together every single day and hardly ever argued. Her father was serving a life sentence in the penitentiary for raping and attempting to strangle her to death when she was six years old. Her mother was always out at a bar, and her brother wasted away his life getting high with Brent Jeffries.
Angie was a very good listener when I needed advice but she never seemed to take mine. My parents insisted on letting her live with us but she declined, explaining that she didn’t want to leave her four-year-old sister with her drunken mother.
Images of prom night came back to haunt me as I stared into her eyes. She and her new boyfriend, Rob, went with Rick and I. Her mother didn’t want her to go. She though Rob was too good for her. She didn’t want Angie to have a nice guy or enjoy any part of her childhood, because she blamed her for the loss of her husband.
I told Angie not to leave any notes from Rob or any evidence of their relationship lying around in her room. Her mother had forbidden her to see him, and thought that Angie was spending the night at my house on the night of the prom.
Unfortunately, after I picked Angie up, her mother decided to ransack her room, acting on a suspicious impulse. She found a shoebox pushed far under Angie’s bed that held several love letters from Rob and a receipt from Floe's Prom Boutique.
Angie and Rob were supposed to leave the prom with Rick and I but we got into a huge argument as usual, and they decided to head outside and enjoy the night air as Rick and I sorted things out.
We were still in the gym when we heard the gunshots from outside. Everything went quiet, then chaos erupted as people began running and screaming. Rick and I ran outside to see what had happened and found Angie and Rob lying in their own pool of blood on the sidewalk.
Jack, who was about to leave when it happened, saw the whole thing. He made his way through the crowd and stood by my side. “I’m so sorry”, he said as he fought back tears. “It was her mother.”
The day after graduation, Rick moved away to Texas with some older woman he had met the week before. He had abandoned me to be with a virtual stranger.
I slammed the yearbook shut and hurled it across the room. “Something bothering you?” Jack asked. I turned around to find him standing at the door.
“You scared me” I said. “How long have you been standing there?”
“Long enough to witness your yearbook sprout wings and fly,” he answered as he crossed the room. “I found this on the kitchen table. Is this why you’re up here, digging in this stuff?” The yellow and gold invitation was in his hand.
“I’m not going” I said before he even asked.
“But, it’s our twenty-year reunion,” he advised. “Don’t you want to see everybody?
“Rick Humphries died yesterday,” I started, “Angie died on prom night, Jill’s dead, Lisa’s dead, everybody is dead or screwed up!” I started crying convulsively as all the tragedy that had occurred since that year sunk in. I looked up at Jack as he kneeled down and put his arm around me. “Why do you want to go back there, Jack?”
“To brag,” he answered. I’m a successful pediatrician and I have three beautiful children with the girl I chased all through school... and longer.” He winked at me. “You have things to brag about too. Your book is coming out next year and just think, nobody thought you would amount to anything because you were always so busy chasing after that Rick Humphries.”
I playfully punched him in the chest. “Shut up, jerk” I teased.
“So, Mrs. Hunter,” he asked, “don’t you want to know what happened to the rest of the class of 1976?”
“I guess I can handle a few bad memories” I answered as I began to wonder... What did happen to the rest of the class of 1976?
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|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|enjoyed the read|
|Reviewed by Regis Auffray
|Hey Rain! I like this. Super short story. Love and peace to you, Regis.|
|Reviewed by Kate Clifford
|Wow this is jammed packed full of emotions and interesting possibilities of outcomes. Great write. I can see why you were asked to read it.|