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Throwing April
Silver, Copper and Led

By Wendy Wing


CHAPTER ONE (excerpt)

I closed my eyes while the rays of sunshine pouring through the clouds played staccato across my eyelids. The up-tempo beat from my headphones worked hard to lift my dull spirits. If I closed my eyes tight enough and ignored the bumping and swaying of the airplane, I could imagine I was at a concert with my friends or somewhere more familiar than where I was.

The flight from Louisville to Denver and then down to Mexico City went rather well. It was sort of like my life–nothing noteworthy. I suppose my life was like a lot of people my age. My parents had been married and seemed happy with their daily exchange of verbal warfare.

“Kids,” my father would ask at the dinner table, “don’t you think it’s amazing how you can hear your mother chewing her food even though her mouth is closed?” He would smugly look in her direction, “Frankly, I think it’s a miracle of science. Call the papers!” My mom used to give him a dirty look and leave the table to clean the kitchen. She thought they shouldn’t fight in front of the kids, because we had no idea the screaming behind their closed bedroom door was anything more than some sort of adult game children weren’t old enough to play.

Yep, my parents were happy–right up until the day they divorced when I was eight. My father went AWOL when I was in high school, and the last anybody heard he was sailing a boat off the Caribbean islands with a pet cockatoo to keep from being lonely.

Sometimes alone is good. I had my music to keep me from being lonesome. The Discman my mother had bought me for Christmas sat on my lap. I patted it like a beloved friend.

“You’re not going to take that down to Mexico are you?” my mother had asked me in disgust.

“Of course I am,” I replied, packing my carry-on bag.

“Well then,” she said in the snippy little voice she used when she didn’t get her way, “keep it close to you or some Mexican will steal it.”

“As opposed to the perfectly angelic WASP who stole my other Discman?” I replied. Her dislike of foreigners wasn’t easy for her to hide, even when she was in another country and was actually the “foreigner” herself. Staying in Kentucky suited her; that way she hardly ever met people who looked or acted any differently than she. Granted, there is comfort in familiarity, but my mom made it into an art form. I knew when she disapproved of something or somebody when she put the word “that” in front of it. Like, “are you still going out with that boyfriend of yours?” I thought myself to be much more liberal, but you don’t have to stretch your acceptance of others much when you stay in Kentucky. People had the right to do whatever they wanted, I just reserved my right to make fun of them.

When the plane finally landed at the Mexico City airport we congregated around a short rotund man holding a San Miguel Hacienda sign. I glanced at the other college students and wondered what their stories were.

My story was average–not completely usual but far from interesting. I was a senior in a small college in Kentucky, where I’d been born and raised. When one of my friends from high school moved to California, she laughed at me and said, “April, you’ll be the last person to leave Kentucky, so don’t forget to turn off the lights.” It’s not like I never left the state. I traveled here and there. I even went to Europe with my French class in high school. I didn’t speak much French, but who does in Kentucky? I wondered how my hillbilly twang resonated in the French ears. Did it make them shudder? “Par-lay voo Anglaze?”

The college I attended had three semesters a year–two standard lengths and a January term. You could spend the winter month on campus taking one bogus class like “The Dissection of Bob Dylan Lyrics” and party your ass off, or you could build houses in some impoverished, buggy Central American country and work your ass off. Or you could go somewhere cool–or in my case, warm.

Kentucky is consistent if nothing else. Every winter I could depend on it to be cold, gray, and long. So a trip to San Miguel, Mexico, for a month sounded like a cakewalk to me. All I had to do to pass my winter term was take two courses at San Miguel’s art university.

I never cared about art, although I took an art history class my sophomore year. I think Van Gogh cut his eye out, not his ear off. I never understood any of it. I liked some of the Monet stuff, but the splatter paintings? Pollack must have laughed as he counted stacks of money and drained bottles of caramel-colored alcohol. Nowadays someone could poop on a canvas and everyone would ooh and ah and call it “contemporary” and “provocative.”

So I definitely wasn’t into the art thing. I even enjoyed making fun of the art students at our school. They sat outside of the small art building smoking clove cigarettes, wearing black clothes, and adjusting their jewelry. Their dyed hair and tattoos and body piercings made them look like a very “contemporary” and “provocative” work of art.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for art and artists, going to San Miguel was a chance to put on shorts, get away from my non-existent life on campus, and escape the daily gray. It seemed like a paid vacation with credit hours. Cake. Pure cake.

I didn’t know any of my fellow students on the trip. Only one person was from my college and I didn’t like her. After taking a look at me, she decided her interests would best be served elsewhere. Not that I minded. Being in her company would be more torture than being alone.

I noticed a cute boy in our group introduce himself to others as Craig. He was standing with the guys talking, while we all waited for the bus. Craig didn’t notice them walk away and I took it as an opportunity to approach. I hoped he would finally notice me so I could introduce myself, but he couldn’t keep his eyes off the girls in our group.

“Whew,” he said under his breath. “Hey guys, check out that booteliscious booty. Spice-say! Nice rack too.” Craig continued to smile at his comment and looked down to find me instead of his pals. I didn’t know what to say. I looked at the girl he spoke of; she was the girl from my college. She was hard to miss, even if she hadn’t been surrounded by a gaggle of other girls. Blond hair. Perfect body. Perfect everything.

“Yep, nice rack. But I don’t think she has sage or rosemary in her rack. I’m thinking mostly silicon.” I smiled, pretty proud of my quick wit. “Or maybe saline.” Craig gave me a smirk and quizzical look. Then he picked up his things and quickly made for the approaching bus to escape from me. As I labored up the steps of the little bus with my suitcase I decided I shouldn’t open my mouth for the rest of the trip.

Craig was the type of guy I always went for: Outgoing, popular, good looking, and athletic. The major problem with falling for guys like Craig was they never fell for me. Sure, one might date me long enough for me to completely lose my heart. But eventually they left “cute” me for someone more spectacular and well within their reach.

I was decent looking. Brown hair, average length, no real style to speak of. Every once in awhile I’d wear my hair in two braids and envision someone calling me “Half-Pint.” After all, I could never see Michael Landon abandoning his family. “Caroline, Mary, Half-Pint, Grace, I’m sick of the prairie. I need some personal space. I’m off to sail the world. Say goodbye to the Olsens for me.” Nope. It’d never happen. Half-Pint’s Pa was the perfect, loving father, so I always wanted to be Laura Ingalls, except for the buckteeth and outhouse.

Still, everything about me was average. Average height, average weight, average grades, average, average, average. I’ve never stood out in a crowd. I never had anyone like Craig ever say I had a “booteliscious” anything. Attractive, I was. But I fell far short from hot, closer to tepid, and thankfully distant from frigid.

Copyright Wendy Wing 2002

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