It’s Always Midnight Way Down in Hell

In her memory it was only this moment that ever existed. She didn’t know when it began or if it ever really did but she was finally here, the one place she desired to be for as long as she could remember. That being relative as Sandy was only 17 years old. She must have driven by her grade school sweetheart’s house a million times after getting her license, and only twice was she brave enough to ring the bell. She ached to be be near him and after their first meeting she immediately began building a song list that related to this, her first love. Now she was finally sitting with him alone in her car, after all these years. Sandy always loved Tom from the day she first saw his shaved head and big brown eyes in first grade. She was hooked the first time he looked back at her and grinned while pledging allegiance. Her heart did flips and flutters whenever he was near and she found she couldn’t breathe right if he got too close. Until that moment she had no idea people were capable of such things. Inducing all of this physical trauma just by their presence. But in reality, they seldom spoke to one another for years at a time. She was very shy and she would realize later like a teenage boy who couldn’t hide his affections physically, her eyes were incapable of veiling her crush when he entered her vision. The class knew of their emotions for one another, something they all acknowledged openly and she could feel in the air but had no actual proof. They often tried to pair them together to tease but love was slow to grow in a Catholic school room of the 1970s.

Religion and nuns weren’t the only blocker though. Sandy was a slightly odd girl who had trouble showing appropriate emotions. One day they were playing some type of game in school and Tom turned around and gave Sandy her first kiss smack on the lips. So she slapped him… hard, on the face. She saw that in a movie and in fact it felt invasive. They were in class, people would see her blush. It felt too bold. She wasn’t proud to find she was slightly prudish in real life, even though she had a very active imagination and fantasy life. That little head was full of dramatic scenes of women acting out all these emotions she had inside waiting to burst out but never did. She drew upon movies as life in her own household was something she tried hard to forget. But it was a conflicting reaction for sure, even for her. She was ecstatic but had no idea how to show it. He just laughed which shamed and confused her. Unsurprisingly there was minimal movement for a couple of years after that.

Around 4th grade there was a sign that came in a small box tucked inside Sandy’s desk at school. She was made aware by the chubby kid, Ronny who sat in front of her in class and for whom she was plagued with misplaced sexual dreams about that she could not explain. Perhaps a malfunction of her newfound hormones or seedlings of her unconventional sexual tendencies to come. Right now though, he served as messenger and when she opened the box she found a large shiny ring. She was told by Ronny that it was from Tom! She looked for him across the room but he would not meet her glance. Not understanding how to react, she immediately called in support in the form of her best friend Ann, who always knew just what to do. They needed to call him after school and ask if the diamond was real, she was told. Sandy wasn’t sure this felt right but calling him on the phone felt so dangerous and exciting, that she went along with it. The conversation was awkward and constantly interrupted by Ann’s insistence on finding out details about the ring, like cost and authenticity. The combination of the phone debacle and the fact that she didn’t have sense enough to actually wear the ring to school, allowed this momentum to also fizzle out. Ann had convinced Sandy that the ring was a fake and no one in their right mind would put it on their finger.

Their interludes were few and far between in pre-teenage years. Her memory became choppy on all the scattered details that lead them further into their teens. She knew he had once sneaked into her house after a night of partying together and her mother walked in on them in her bedroom. Her mom gave him a good talking to all the way down the stairs and out the front door as he struggled to zip his pants and belt. She followed him telling him how disappointed she was, how much more she had thought of him in her quietest judging voice. Her mom had a way of making you feel really horrible if you let her down. Sandy loved this as this made him more real knowing her mother had promising thoughts about him.

Sandy also knew she had attended a party sometime in high school back in her old neighborhood. She wore a blue muslin hippie dress and heels on one of those perfect summer nights where you feel so refreshed after a shower. She sprayed perfume in her hair and recalled feeling like a ripe peach. They saw each other on the front wooden porch, also painted blue. He commented on her shoes and he noticed she was becoming a woman. They barely walked in and had a beer before he suggested they go to his house and he whisked her up like a dream. She was overwhelmed by how dynamic he seemed, which was unusual for him but most likely brought on by cocaine in hindsight, she thought. She didn’t object when that zeal quickly turned into an abrupt roll in a bunk bed before she was dropped back off to the party without much fanfare. He told her she looked pretty, she did remember that. Later she would hear a rumor that he described her as a dead lay. A term that would forever make her cringe when she heard it. All those pure feelings she had for him since grade school tucked away like a dowry, were fading to black. Their lack of real interaction had taken a toll on Sandy and even though she still held so much affection for him, she felt embarrassed that she could hold on this long to a false reciprocation.

A few months later she found herself pregnant with complications, the most dreaded of all diagnoses for a teenage girl. Tom could have been the father. She called him on the telephone for the second time in her life to tell him of the abortion. He told her he would have married her. Words that would stick in her mind like a broken record for years. Before his mother who apparently had been listening on the other line, told him to get off the phone ‘immediately’, he also told her she could have been a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader, the highest compliment he would ever give. She wouldn’t hear from him again until this night, after the release of Pink Floyd’s The Wall and another year or so had passed. It was very cold and dreary out. He asked her to park her car in his yard facing the back. The view was bleak. She tried to gather her intentions. The trees had no leaves and the wind was strong. She kept the heater on while she played the new tape, sharing the joint she had brought not to celebrate but almost as a necessity to stop time. They were older, she was different. They sat silently for awhile just listening, agreeing they were both a little stoned. She wanted to share this music with him. It was more in line with how she felt these days. And somehow as if all logic left her, she went on to tell him the story of how she recently tried to commit suicide. She further explained it was a real tribute to how effective songs can be as this new album, one song in particular pushed her over the edge. He shook his head and said he had never contemplated anything so dire. He looked at her like he didn’t recognize her, and as he probably never did but she refused to see it. This wasn’t going well. Why she told him that story at this moment was beyond her. If the goal was to begin something, this was not the path. Instead she seemed possessed to end their bond. She accepted their new convergence in her foggy clarity. That even though they shared an existence in this east end neighborhood, and his mother was about to run off with a black biker gang and his father would go on to marry young girls they went to school with, to him, his life was not complicated. He was not struggling with complex thoughts like she was. That sweet look in his eyes that she locked onto in first grade was always going to exist because he didn’t recognize all the pain and weaknesses in people through the years like she did. All this time they had grown up together she assumed he shared these conflicts. She envied him and held attachment for him but no longer felt her obsessive draw. This ended what could have been the start to another life. Although it would take several more years for her love to completely fade away, she would unintentionally vaginally block herself that night by being what she was and always would be, a slightly odd girl.

One of the songs on Sandy’s mental love soundtrack

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