You probably knew this girl in high school, or junior high, or middle school. There is always a handful or them, or a gaggle, but there is at least one. Vee was tall - one might say far too tall for a girl - lanky, pale except for a wash of freckles splotching her face, thin fine hair that she, or her divorced mother, cut short. Thin as a pole, with no hips or breasts to speak of. Sexless, lacking the alien beauty of the androgynous. When she spoke, which was not often, it was in a rush, and her voice sounded something like a cough. She went up and down for miles.
Picked on mercilessly - there is no end of the cruelty of children, and she drew the ire of our peers. I do not recall the specifics of her torment, though I imagine she could, but there was an aura of social suicide around her. Even the other awkward, picked on kids ignored her, clinging to the social strata of not exactly being on the bottom, such that it was. Some people actually choose to study isolation and loneliness, but they need not really go to some far end of the world place to do so - they could have asked her what it is like.
This is my strongest memory of her: the useless Sex Ed class, which was considered comprehensive, which was little more than This is What Will Happen To Your Body Once You Have Sex, which meant we learned about STD's. For our final project, we had to demonstrate the before and after affects of a healthy body versus one that was diseased. I made a grey clay mold of a healthy brain and then one that was ridden with syphilis. One perfectly shaped brain, and one that I took a knife to and scratched the shit out of. I got an A and an unhealthy fear of coitus.
She would read during that class. Thin novels, escapist fantasy. The teachers, not exactly blind to her predicament, didn't say anything. But this one girl, some young blond thing who felt the weight of unfairness, asked (she even raised her hand to do it, she was all about rules) why Vee was allowed to read.
Our teacher: "She's paying attention. I know she can do two things at once."
And Vee smiled, grateful I think, and went back to reading.
Blond said, "Prove it."
Vee was asked to repeat what was going on. She looked at the board, tried to decipher whatever the fuck was the lesson plan that day. Her face crumbled, she shrugged.
The teacher asked her to put the book away, but she sounded sorry about the whole thing. Fair is fair, though, and if Blond had to pay attention, then I suppose we all did.
Our ten year reunion is coming up. I am probably not going, but I looked through the list of people who were invited. She wasn't in the facebook group. I tried searching for her under any variation of her name I could think of. I asked friends from high school if they remembered her (they did) and whether they knew what she was up to (they did not).
"I think," my friend emailed me this morning "that her mother got remarried. She might have a different last name?"
I googled her late last night while drinking the rest of some cheap red wine. Not a thing. I googled her in connection with our high school, but there is some other girl with her name now, and she plays basketball. Hundreds of pictures of her, but not Vee.
Whatever happened to you, Vee? Where did you go? I wonder if she disappeared because that's about what we all deserved, to know her no more since none of us ever took the time to do so when we had all the chances in the world, or if we collectively wished her away, and somehow she managed to make that happen.