Mary Isabella Eldridge lived down the street from me. Everyone called her Missy and she was older than me by a full year. Me, Jimmy Stokes, sad to say, was the homeliest kid there ever was. I was well aware because everyone teased me about the way I looked. I was short, had spiky-red hair and my ears stuck straight out from my head. Missy teased me, but she did it in a nice way. The best part, she wasn't mean to me like the other kids tended to be. I felt she always liked me. And ... she didn't tease me about my intelligence when others did.
I was a smarter than she was and she knew it. I was a grade behind her in school, but that didn't make any difference to me. If she had a problem with a school lesson, she would bring it to me and I would read the lesson leading up to the problem posed. Usually I could figure out the answer. She said if she ever graduated from school it was because I taught her all she knew.
When I was eleven, she asked me to help with a math problem. At this time she had moved up to middle school so we didn't have daily contact anymore. She was learning a lot about life and boys, while I wasn't even interested in life ... or girls. That changed with a math problem she gave me to look at. When I solved it, she threw her arms around me and kissed me. Looking back now, it couldn't have been much of a kiss, but it went straight to my heart, and stayed there forever.
The next year when I reached middle school, I saw Missy almost every day. Many days she didn't see me though, for she was turning into a beauty. Why would she even want to be seen talking to me ... the funny looking little kid? On Fridays though, when she needed some homework done over the week end, she would hunt me up. It was standard that I reserved an hour Sunday night with her to review the lesson I had done for her. I knew I was being used while she was out with her friends, but this gave me one more chance to see and be close to Missy.
The only benefit to me was working two grade levels at the same time and my brain was exercising and adding to my ability. The downside was seeing the girl I loved slip farther and farther away from me. She was growing up way too fast and I knew I would never catch up.
You could call Missy a popular girl. All the kids wanted to be with her because she was so much fun. The boys were always speculating on how far she would let them go. At the beginning of her junior year she seemed to settle down with one boy. Jeff was a senior and a very popular guy. She still needed my help because Missy's folks were putting pressure on her to get better grades, so I did see quite a bit of her. That year I was a sophomore, things changed during the Christmas vacation. I didn't usually see Missy at all over the holidays because she was out to all the parties.
Missy came to my door two days after Christmas. I think she knew Mom and Pop wouldn't be home. "Can I come in, Jimmy? I have to talk to you."
"Sure, I was just banging away at my computer. I'm trying to write a program and it isn't going well. Don't tell me you have some homework?"
"No homework." She had tears in her eyes when she said, "I've come to say goodbye. I also want to tell you I'm sorry for using you all these years. I've been such a fool. You see I let Jeff take my cherry and I'm pregnant. Mom and Dad are moving out west somewhere to hide me from the world until the baby is born. I don't know what's going to happen then. I'm not even seventeen and I'm going to have a baby to take care of." Missy started crying.
I didn't know what to do. I had never held a girl in my arms, but I ached to hold Missy. Before this, I was always too scared to touch a girl, much less hold one in my arms. That isn't to say I didn't think about it often enough. Missy solved that problem when she came and hugged me. All I could think of was how she felt against me ... and she smelled so nice too.
"You'll be all right, Missy. You're beautiful and you'll make out just fine. I bet you'll love your baby a whole lot too. I know I would, especially if you were the mother."
"Oh, Jimmy, I've known you love me and I've just always ignored you and used you. That is why I came to tell you today that I'm sorry for how I've treated you. You have been the only one I really trusted and could count on. Even when I was with Jeff, I had my doubts about what I was doing with him. For all my partying, he was the only one I went too far with.
"When I told him about being pregnant, he just laughed said he was a minor and I couldn't force him to be responsible for a baby. Then he told me to look at myself and the reputation I had managed to attract. Now my parents want to get me out of town before anyone else knows about my condition."
"Am I going to know where you move to? Are you going to write me?"
"I don't think so. I think you'd better forget me. You've been the only true friend I ever had and this must be God's way of getting even for me treating you so badly. I just want someone to think about me sometimes."
"I don't think you can blame God for this. Life is just a matter of choices. You made some wrong ones. Look to the future and plan ahead. You can have a good life, but you have to be smart about what you do. I've been reading a book on karma. Read something like that. Who knows, maybe this is someone else's retribution."
"Okay, I will. I brought you my school picture that I was going to give Jeff for Christmas. Instead, I want you to have it to remember me by. At least I know you will cherish it. Jimmy Stokes, I think you are the one person in the world I am going to miss. You have always been here for me. You have been my rock and I love you." Missy hugged me and I hugged her as tightly as I could. Taking my face in her hands, she kissed me deeply and then crying, she broke away and was gone from my life.
I was pissed at Jeff and wanted very much to get even for messing up Missy's life by denying he was in any way responsible. On New Year's Eve, Jeff floored the gas pedal and squealed the tires on his car as he often did when showing off. The rear wheel came off and he swerved into a tree, smashing his car and his leg.
Jeff was half drunk and complained that someone had loosened the lug nuts on the wheel. Too bad he'll never be able to use the scholarship in college or play ball again. At least he only hurt himself. I smiled, thinking, "There, Jeff, that's karma for you." Missy had already left town, and she might never know.
I was lost without Missy around. It took Mom two weeks before she realized Missy wasn't coming over on Sunday evenings. Then she found out that the Eldridges had moved out of town. She questioned me, but I didn't want to talk about Missy. She was gone, that's all I could tell her. I was so lonely without her though. Mom commiserated and then forgot all about our neighbors. Both in my heart and my mind, Missy was always held as a fond memory.
I looked in the mirror. I had grown tall and I let my hair grow to cover my ears. I was still odd looking, but people excused my looks when they needed some information about something. A voracious reader I knew a lot about some things and a little about everything else ... or knew where to look for it.
Missy had done one thing for me that last day. The hug and the kiss had removed my fear of girls. I wanted to have women's breasts pressed up against me and I loved the feeling. Girls had other points of interest that I admired and if I planned it right, I had the chance to make an examination. Okay, I wasn't looking for either beauty or brains. Sure, I got my first knowledge from books and magazines, but it didn't take long before I had a reputation of my own to live up to. That in turn took away some of my longing for my one-time friend, but I never forgot her.
I graduated from high school second in my class. I was second because I had found a friend who the kids dubbed the ugliest girl in school just like I was the ugliest boy. She just happened to have more brains than I did. In a light-hearted conversation with her I suggested we marry and have the smartest kids in the world. She came back with, "And the ugliest, too. Our kids would hate us." She was both smart and sensible.
I was twenty-two with a degree in computer science and a smart-ass attitude when I landed my first full time job. It was for a company that had been established for awhile and the company had collected several employees that were as intelligent as I was. One, Bill, took to mentoring me to get me up to speed in the company, and I was grateful for this. Many of the other employees didn't seem to have much use for him and I never stopped to ask myself why. I should have.
After I had been with the company about a year, Bill started talking about splitting off and starting our own company. He asked the question, why should we be working for someone when we could be reaping all of the profits? Think of the savings without having to have to plug in a whole lot of overhead. This sounded good to me. Bill was the one going after accounts (I swear he could talk the panties off a minister's wife). Using our savings ... most of them mine ... and a solid business plan, we financed our little start-up venture.
.... There is more of this story ...