Finding My Voice: Catherine

I think the one thing we all learn growing up is that a good friend is hard to find. Sometimes we find that friend and we take them for granted. Other times we find them and reject their friendship. I have a friend like that, I took her for granted and she was always nice to me. Her name is Catherine, but her friends call her Cathy for short. Now Cathy and I go all the way back to middle school. I first met her in the sixth grade and we never looked back. She always smiled with her brown eyes looking innocent, but she also had a mean right hook when I pissed her off. She helped me coped with my grandfather passing. And she was there to cheer me up when the other kids picked on me. Even threaten a girl that wouldn’t stop hitting me at one point. I loved Cathy, I still do actually. But for me to know how much of a real friend she was I needed to learn an important lesson. This is our story.

It was around the second half of our eighth-grade year and I saw Cathy sitting in the back of the school as she always did.  I noticed she wasn’t paying attention wandering off in her own little world like always, so I slowly approached her taking my time with each step. Landing each foot as softly as I could on the ground. I slowly raised my right arm and reached out towards her shoulder and continued my approach. Cathy was still in wonderland, so, I knew that my plan was going to work.

“I swear if you try to scare me I will hurt you, again,” said Cathy.

I dropped my arm and got out of my sneaking stance feeling defeated. “How did you know I was behind you?” I asked.

Cathy turned her lip up and pointed to the ground. I looked down to see my shadow sticking out like a sore thumb. “Betrayed by my own damn shadow,” I said.

Cathy smiled and ran to me giving me a tight hug. It has been two weeks since Cathy has last seen me. Because I took ill a week before spring break, so I was gone for quite some time. But she wasn’t alone. She had other friends beside me, but the only I could really remember at the time of me writing this was Jamie.

“I missed you, I’m glad to see you’re feeling better,” said Cathy.

“Good to be back and plus I get to see my favorite girl,” I said.

“Really, you’ve been gone two weeks and that’s what you open up with,” said Cathy.

“What?” I asked.

Cathy knew that when I said the phrase “favorite girl” she knew I wanted something from her. And truth be told, I used that word a lot with her.

“You’re not copying off my math homework,” said Cathy.

“Come on Cat, just one more time, please. I promise I’ll do the next one on my own,” I said.

“You say that every time and you break that promise the next day. You know breaking a promise to a girl is not very attractive,” stated Cathy.

“Well when I talk to a girl I’ll be sure to keep that in mind,” I said.

“I’m sorry, the fuck you just say?” questioned Cathy.

“Nothing, I said nothing at all,” I answered.

She gave me a fierce look and walked away from me. The last time she was this mad at me she knocked the wind out of me. Yeah, don’t let that sweet picture of her fool you. That girl can throw a punch when she really wants to.

 But Cat went to her backpack and pulled out a piece of notebook paper with a hardcover blue textbook. She shoved the paper along with the textbook right into my chest, causing me to catch it once she released them. She pointed to the wall that was accompanied by a small garden and a few chairs. Cathy saw them one day in the cafeteria and took them out and put them behind the school for us to sit on. I was surprised that no one noticed them.

“Sit down and wait here,” she commanded.

I sat down as instructed and looked at the blank piece paper. Cathy came back holding a notebook already opened to the homework assignment that was due that day. My mouth grew from ear to ear as I reached for the notebook.

“See, you are my favorite girl,” I said to her.

“Whatever just hurry up and copy it,” said Cathy.

I started to write down the steps and the answers to each problem given while getting some wrong on purpose along the way. The key to cheating on anything is not getting everything right, especially if your teacher knows you well. Cathy dragged the second chair close to me and sat down.

“Andre, you can’t keep doing this, you know?” said Cathy

I kept writing the answer ignoring what she just said.

“You can ignore me all you want, but I’m going to get my point across. Whether you like it or not,” stated Cathy.

I continued writing down the answer as I was more than halfway done. Cathy would always give me her little lectures about how I need to work on the subject to get better at it because cheating isn’t going to help me in the long run. I mean she was right, but my younger self-wasn’t trying to hear it.

“Really, Andre, you’re going to ignore me after what I just did for you, again,” said Cathy.

I slammed the pencil down on the textbook and looked dead in her eyes. “What, Cathy? What the hell are you going to tell me this time? That I can do this, that if I try hard enough I’ll get this stuff down? Or your personal favorite, don’t be like the rest of the boys in this school? Well, I got news for you. I’m just like every other black kid in this school. No one wants to see me, and our own people do well. You’re lucky that you’re only half black, you have a better chance than I’ll ever have in life,” I explained.

Cathy stood there while I finished up the last question. I returned her stuff, so I can get ready to get to class. A quick but strong force ripped her things out of my hand that I had to look to see who did it. I watched as Cathy threw her stuff in her backpack and walked away.

“Where are you going, Cat?” I asked.

“Away from you, asshole,” she replied.

 

I knew that day I really pissed her off.  Like I said before Cathy was one of the few I could really call a friend in middle school and to watch her walk away like that was painful enough. I went home to reflect on what I said to her and I knew I needed to make amends with her. Even if it meant ending our friendship for good.

The next day came around and I went to the back of the school as always. Thankfully, Cathy was there as if she was expecting me. Only this time I didn’t get a wave or a smile. Just a long frowned. I approached her slowly and sat next to her, there was an awkward silence between us for about five minutes.

“Hey, Cathy, I’m sorry- “

“I care,” whispered Cathy.

“What?”

“I care,” she whispered again, but just enough for me to hear it.

“I know you do, but I should still apologize for what I said to you,” I said back.

Cathy rose up from the chair and looked at me. “You’re right, that was little messed up coming from you. No, that was really messed up coming from you. You think because I’m half white I have it easy. Those same people that you claim want to see you fail, want the same for me. But I never let that get to me. And you shouldn’t either. The only thing that stopping you from becoming you is yourself.”

“Becoming me?” I questioned.

“Yes, you! Andre, you’re this charming, funny boy that I love seeing every day coming to school. You may get on my nerves at times, but it’s a price to pay when you make me smile and laugh every day. You know me for who I am and not what I look like. You know how many guys ask me out because they think I look cute?” she asked.

“I really don’t want to know that number,” I replied.

“Well, it’s a lot. But you never did that not once. You treated me like a person, so when you said that to me. You made me feel less than that yesterday,” explained Cathy.

“Look, I’m sorry, I don’t know what gotten into me yesterday. You of all people know that I wouldn’t do or say anything that would hurt you,” I said.

“But you did. There you go again breaking promises. At least you’re good at something in life,” said Cathy.

I won’t lie those words cut me deep, but again she was right. I always promised her that I would do my math homework, but I never did. But who would’ve thought that a simple math homework would cause this much problem in a friendship? Well, it didn’t, it was the fact that I kept taking advantage of her. I was ungrateful for the good friend that I had at the time.

“But you can be better, I know you can,” said Cathy.

“How?” I asked.

“I don’t know exactly, but one day you’ll find a great girl that would be lucky to have you. You’re going to marry her and make her laugh and smile every day just like me. You might even one day change the world with your kindness. You may lead a new generation of people to see that color isn’t everything,” she explained.

“Really, a whole generation,” I said with a straight look.

“Okay, maybe a few,” she said.

We both laughed at the thought for a few seconds until she sat back down and gave me her smile once again. “What I’m saying is, you’re nothing if you claim you’re nothing. So, claim yourself to be something. Then you’ll get it. I believe you can do great things, you just have to believe.”

I sat there and took every word she said to heart. I never got that much wisdom from someone at the same age as me. I knew Cathy was special, but I didn’t think she was that special. But I was glad she told me that. Because today I really don’t let the color of my skin dictate with what I do with my life. I do whatever I can when I can and the only thing stopping me was going to be me and no one else.

“Thanks, Cathy, I really needed to hear that,” I said to her.

“I’m glad I could help. But one question am I really your favorite girl sometimes?” she asked.

“Oh God, no,” I replied.

“Oh, I see, that’s okay,” she said smiling.

“You’re my favorite girl all the time,” I said smiling.

She punched me in my right arm laughing while I laughed back at her. She lunged over and hugged me tightly for about a few minutes. “You can let me go now, Cat,” I said.

“Just a few more minutes, I want to make this one count,” said Cathy.

“Make this one count? What are you talking about?” I asked.

Cathy lets me go and sat up straight in the chair fixing her hair. “I’m moving to a new school in the next few weeks and wanted to tell you yesterday.”

I sat there as the words slowly processed through my brain. There was no possible way that she was going to transfer to a different school, leave all her friends. And Most importantly leave me behind. I never did well when my friends moved away because I knew I would never see them again. I didn’t want her to go away forever. We still had so many more adventures to go on.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“How long before you leave?” I asked in return.

“A month maybe two if I’m lucky. I really don’t want to leave here, all my friends are here,” she stated.

“I don’t want you to leave either. Who am I going to hang out with before school starts? Who am I going to make laugh and smile every day?” I asked.

“I don’t know, but until then. You can continue doing the same for me until I leave, “she said smiling.

The bell rung for us to go to class and we got our stuff together. “Until you leave me for good, let’s make each day count. No more fighting, okay?” I stated.

“Deal, and as long as you do your homework we’ll be fine,” she said.

“Yeah, about that,” I said.

“Andre!” she shouted.

“I need your math homework, again,” I said.

Cathy’s face turned red and her eyes were close to popping out of her head. She grabbed her backpack and swung it so fast that it connected to my left arm. I moved a little to the right and used my right hand and to rub the pain away.

“I’m so sick and tired of your crap, sometimes, you know that!” she yelled.

“Ouch! That hurts,” I said.

“It’s supposed to hurt,” she said.

Cathy continued to hit me with her backpack all the way to class until a teacher told her to stop. Thankfully, she did, but she resorted to pinching me for the rest of the day. Which is worse than her hitting me with the backpack. Even though we agreed not to fight again, we would spend the next few weeks tormenting each other. It was our way to show how much we cared for each other.

But it only lasted two months, because she left. Even though the school year was almost over. I felt alone and depressed that she was gone. It wasn’t the fact that I had no one to copy from. It was the fact that someone that I took for granted was taken from me and I hated it. For those that have been following this series will know of the things I went through in high school. I sometimes can’t help myself think that maybe if she stayed, that maybe if she never moved. She would’ve had my back every step of the way. She would’ve told me to stop talking to that girl that gave me the run around for almost ten years. Never called me a snitch for looking out for my friends. And most importantly…she would’ve let me copy off her math homework lol. But being serious I think things would’ve been a little different if she never left. But you know that’s life until life decided that you suffered enough and decides to give her back to you.

A few years after I graduated from high school I was on a Social Media website. Can’t remember which one exactly. But Cathy came up in one of my random moments. I looked her up and there she was, all grown up, and still with that same smile. I added her and waited anxiously for her to accept. A few days will go by and I got a notification telling me we were now friends. I messaged her immediately asking if she remembers me.

“Of course, I do, am I still your favorite girl?” she asked.

“Naw, you’ve been gone for too long. I had to give that to someone else,” I responded.

“Yeah, okay whatever you say. How are you?” asked Cathy.

“Well, I have a story to tell you.”

 

That concludes this story I hope you really enjoyed this one as much as I enjoyed writing it. However, if by some chance that Cathy is reading this. I want to first say Happy Birthday and I hope your birthday is just as amazing as you are. Second, I also want to tell you that before we saw each other again in 2010. I never not once stopped thinking about you and I’m glad you came back to my life.

Now to my readers. Like I said earlier if you enjoyed this story. I encourage you to check out my site and look at my other work. I’m still a work in progress but I continue to practice every day to hone my craft. But please like, share, comment, and if I impressed you enough subscribe for regular and quality content on my blog. Again, thank you for reading and until next time my friends.

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