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TODAY

Monday, April 22

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Airbags

Morton West Class of 1975 30th Reunion Saturday, November 26, 2005 6:30 p.m. at Skylight West Banquets in Berwyn. For info call Terry 630-XXX-XXXX.

Terry slimmed down considerably for the reunion. He already knew what he would wear. He’d found the wool trousers last fall, and the cranberry silk shirt this spring. With the weight loss and the stylish clothes, Terry wouldn’t at all resemble the kid he was at Morton. Which was just what he wanted. Although he’d volunteered to plan the reunion, each one of those people could just go fuck themselves.

Nobody had paid attention to him except Mrs. Simmons the drama teacher, who thought Terry was one of the most thoughtful students she’d had yet. Sometimes Terry would talk with her over lunch. They talked about current events, books they’d read, whatever. At the end of the year, she mentioned to him that she wanted to give him some books. Would he come by her apartment later? When he did, she opened the door dressed in a chartreuse kimono. Terry noticed that the shades were closed, but the TV was on. The contrast of the blue and green on her face sickened him almost as much as the loose v-neck of her robe intrigued him.

She was not pretty or young. Mrs. Simmons – Tara – offered Terry a beer while he loaded three boxes of dusty Penguin classics into his hatchback. Then they sat on the couch and talked and drank. Each time Tara came back from the bathroom, she sat a little closer to him. The last time, she was so close he could smell the sweet wine she’d been drinking on her breath. He was fairly drunk, so when she opened her robe casually, he thought it might have just been the beer.

The next day at school, Terry could tell that there was something very wrong. It was as though the air had a different taste. He went through class after class feeling terribly off-kilter but completely wrapped up in the memories of last night. At lunchtime, Terry ditched the groups he hung on to and went to the grocery store across the street. He bought Tara a mixed bouquet and some Fannie Mae. He knocked on her classroom’s door just before the end of lunch. When she answered it, they both blushed, but tried to act like nothing illegal had happened.

Terry thought about what he was going to say, how excited and happy she’d made him. How he was glad that it had been her, because he trusted and respected her so much. But Terry just couldn’t tell her these things to her face, which had looked so above-average in the candlelight hours before. He just sat while she arranged the bouquet in a mug and set in on her desk. When the bell rang, Terry took his regular seat.

That’s when it all went wrong. Patrick, who Terry hated for his handsome cruelty, threw open the doors, with his girlfriend Shana and cohort Steve. They scanned the room and found the flowers and burst out laughing. The three ran back outside, while Terry and Tara listened to high-pitched bursts of teenage laughter. Tara began studying her lesson plan as if nothing else were in the room. Terry thought he might vomit. Better yet, he thought he might kill Patrick. When the rest of the class filed in, they all stifled laughter, but shot Terry and the flowers amused glances.

It actually went better than Terry thought. Maybe Patrick didn’t really care that much or hadn’t guessed what the flowers were for. But by the end of the day, Patrick had begun openly taunting Terry for “boning that fugly teacher.” Terry just couldn’t take it any more. He threw a punch at Patrick, putting all of the rage, hurt and isolation he’d felt all these years behind it. And he missed. Patrick, however, didn’t.

He didn’t go back to school the rest of that week, and then the year was over. Shortly after Terry was brought into the office bloody and crying, Tara decided that she might like to try teaching in a Catholic school for a while. The next day it was settled. The principal had heard what probably caused the fight, too, but just let it go. Tara was leaving, Terry graduated, and why not let those two have some fun, he thought. But that little shit Patrick, he wouldn’t let it drop. He turned Terry and Tara into a legend that persisted for years. In Patrick’s story, Terry became uglier and uglier and Tara was transformed into a zaftig sex goddess.

So, here it was, thirty years later. Terry was slim and planning his revenge on Patrick. It involved a punch that he knew would not miss. And Tara, who found Terry later and had not let him go, was planning to witness it.

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About the Author(s)

Shylo Bisnett loves ironing, baking and gardening. She will soon be a naughty housewife. Let her know what you think about Public Notice at .

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