Cindy-Part 6 (Conclusion) (Image: Dancing Girl 6)

Standing there like a ghost on the beach, my eyes filled with tears as I watched Cindy sitting in her tree gazing out across the lake. My heart ached and my stomach twisted as I remembered how shattered I was when I got the news of her death all those years ago.

I could hear someone approaching from behind—I turned to see Susan coming down the path from the girl’s cabins. I knew what was coming next and started backing away. Once again I was flooded with shame and didn’t want to hear the exchange.

From a distance I could see Cindy’s stunned expression change into tears. For several minutes she sobbed as Susan held her and rubbed her back. Finally they began walking back toward the cabins—to get Cindy’s things before she left.

I walked to the parking lot and quickly found Cindy’s car. I looked underneath and could see the dark, wet spot on the gravel where the brake fluid had slowly leaked out. There was no way to replace the fluid and broken line so I focused on the battery—completely draining the power from it. As the battery died I started feeling like I was trying to remember something. As the minutes ticked by more and more memories came into my mind as the new time line replaced the original. In about 10 minutes a whole new history filled my memory.

About ten minutes after I got there, Cindy came through the pines carrying her rolled-up sleeping bag and duffel. She walked right past me, threw her stuff in the back seat, got in and turned the key. Nothing—as I expected. At that moment my 17 year old self burst into the parking lot, breathless, having run from the boy’s cabins—Don tagging along behind.

My earlier self slowed then walked quickly over to the dormant car which Cindy kept futilely trying to start. Not being able to start it and seeing me coming, she rolled up the windows and locked the doors.

Again from a distance, I watched myself standing by the driver’s window pleading with her. Cindy was covering her ears with her hands and shaking her head. Don walked up and stood a moment observing then began speaking in an agitated manner—pointing at Cindy in the car and yelling at me.

Watching all this I knew pretty clearly what was happening and would happen. Don was telling me to leave Cindy alone—I was telling him to kiss off. He would take a swing but this time I was expecting it and ducked. I would tackle him and we’d roll around in the dirt and gravel like a couple of idiots. Cindy would get out of the car and as we rolled over she would kick me in the side and run off to cry on Susan’s shoulder for another hour.

After ten minutes or so of rolling around Don and I would give it up. I figured (correctly) the whole sorry mess would be all over the camp so I quickly packed up my stuff, walked out to the highway and hitch-hiked home.

Cindy would eventually hear the correct story and never speak to me or Susan again. She sold the car a few days later and got a different one (almost new—her folks felt sorry for her) and I lost my job at the garage.

The rest of the school year (my junior year) was kind of a strange brew. The rumor mill distorted and exaggerated things as it always does. I had been seen victimizing Cindy behind the bleachers a week before so some versions of the mess had me as a sleaze ball womanizer not just bagging poor Cindy and Susan but a half dozen of their unsuspecting friends. Other versions drew me as a sort of high school Casanova and slick operator who just acted dorky to fool people. Some girls treated me like garbage—other girls—girls who wouldn’t have glanced at me in the past—started flirting with me and sticking notes with phone numbers into my locker. Early on, the new attention made me feel ashamed of myself—but pretty quickly I learned to use it to distract myself from the guilt.

Eventually I was able to say, “What the hell—it’s about time I had a little fun,” and made some changes. I re-worked my wardrobe, finally got my acne cleared up and—especially since I could dance now—had pretty much all the dates I wanted. A couple of jocks I had previously known only superficially, ramped up the friendships and invited me to scrimmages and extra-curricular games. I turned out to be a pretty good volleyball player.

Susan left home—and town—that next summer. She didn’t return for her senior year—or any year. The story I heard was she was a biker-chick and massage girl on the west coast for a few years then became a quite successful soap-opera actress. I’ll not share her stage name but if you watch, “the soaps,” you’ve seen her.

Cindy started going with Don—they got married after high school. Both completed associate degree programs at a local community college in the medical field and moved to Detroit  for a number of years. They eventually returned to this area bringing with them boy and girl twin babies.

Following high school I did a hitch in the Army. After discharge and graduation from a couple of out of state colleges I came back here with my wife and Evan—who was born within weeks of Don and Cindy’s twins. Evan and Don’s boy have been best friends since they were in diapers.

Climbing down from the bleachers I decide there’s been enough pitching practice for today—it’s time for all of us to get home for supper. I call to the boys…

“Evan, let’s go—your mom’s waiting for us. Blake—c’mon, hustle-up dude. I don’t want your old man taking a swing at me again.”

End part six. End story

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