We all ran to the window and peered out. Young boys, most of us. We watched the red fire trucks and police cars race down the road—sirens blaring, lights flashing.
“Oh, cool,” someone said, as we pressed our small hands against the window sill.
The sirens were so loud our teacher had stopped class. The boys were too distracted. That’s why we were allowed to stand there as long as we did.
J. Murray Jeffress Elementary.
He was there, too, and like most all boys our age, amazed by the emergency vehicles that had sprung into action. What we didn’t know, he didn’t know, was that just around the corner from J. Murray Jeffress Elementary, his mom had been in a deadly car accident.
It’s one of those days forever etched in my memory that returns whenever I see emergency vehicles racing to help.
“Oh, cool,” my five year old son said recently as we sat at an intersection on 29 in Charlottesville waiting for the light to turn green as the fire trucks, police cars, and rescue squads zipped through.
I remember her, too. Not well. Her face has been clouded by time. Her voice, I remember it was gentle and kind. She used to give me jellybeans when I went into the bank in Phenix with my mom. She worked there. Her hair was shoulder length if I recall, some blonde to it. Her cheeks a little rosy. She always made sure I didn’t get the black licorice jellybeans.
Occasionally, when I was younger, I’d go to his house. I went there once after his mom died, and for some reason, I had forgotten. I kept expecting to see her there when I arrived or when we went down for a snack. But she never appeared. And every visit to the bank thereafter, she was never there. I remember picking out the black licorice jellybeans from the others, thinking of her.
Written by Jeffrey Pillow, author of the coming-of-age memoir in progress When the Lights Go Out at 10:16, which you can read on this blog as it’s being written. When the Lights Go Out at 10:16 is a story of growing up in small town America in the 1980’s in a teeny tiny town known as Phenix, in Charlotte County, Virginia. It is a story of life and friendship in the face of terminal cancer. Want to read more blog posts? Visit the blog archive. You can also subscribe to this blog to receive updates of new posts by email. Or, follow me on Twitter (I just re-joined).