I still remember it like it was yesterday. Things like this you relive over and over and over. And then when you start to forget, something happens. Then you relive it all over again.
We were in the third grade. My best friend and I, along with a few other kids in the neighborhood, were playing Hide-and-go-seek. Well, sort of. Us girls were hiding from the boys. The boys were chasing us. My best friend D. and I were crawling, hiding behind the bushes of the Rosa Vista projects office in McFarland. We were just being silly girls and having fun.
Then we heard them. The boys were fast approaching, so we walked faster. She wasn’t going fast enough for me, so I pushed her. I don’t know why? It seemed like a good idea at the time. If I push her, she’ll walk faster, right? Wrong. She fell. Right into the water meter. She got up, still laughing and we started running out into the street.
I looked over at her and her eyelid was folded over her eye. For a split second it was just white. I could have sworn the white was her skull. And since I couldn’t see her eye, because her eyelid was folded over it, I thought for sure she’d lost it somewhere behind the bushes. Then it happened. Blood started gooshing out. A lot of it. Fast. I panicked, and yelled, “D, your eye is split open. OMG OMG OMG…”
Then she started crying and screaming. And I started crying and screaming. I pushed her into the water meter and I popped her eye out. OHMYGOD! I was going to jail for sure.
We ran towards her house. I opened the door and yelled for her mom, “Mrs. D, Mrs. D… your daughter’s eye is popped out. She fell behind the bushes and her eye popped out.” Yeah, notice how I conveniently forgot to mention the reason she fell was because I PUSHED HER. I wasn’t gonna take the blame at this point. I didn’t want to go to jail.
In true Mexican mom fashion, she yelled at her. Instead of consoling her. She yelled at her. “AY muchacha, how many times have I told you…… “ I don’t know how she finished that sentence. I ran home and hid in my room. I didn’t want to go to jail.
I didn’t see her for the rest of the summer. I thought I’d killed her. I thought since I’d popped her eye out, maybe she was blind? Maybe she’d lost so much blood she was too weak to get out of bed? I thought so many things. But I never went to check for sure. I thought if they ever saw me again, they would arrest me for sure. Yes, I was selfish. Sure I was worried about her. I mourned her. I thought I’d lost my best friend. And it was my fault. But mostly, I thought, I don’t want to go to jail.
School started and I was so happy to see my friend. With a tiny scar above her eyebrow. Three stitches. Turns out she wasn’t dead. She was just grounded. I was relieved. I missed my best friend. We picked up right where we’d left off. Like nothing ever happened. And she never once blamed me. As far as she was concerned, she fell. And I once again conveniently forgot to mention to her that she didn’t fall. I PUSHED HER.
I’m lucky to report we’re still best friends. And yes, I have confessed to her what really happened. And we laugh about it. I think I’ve become a better friend since then. I no longer push my friends to go faster than they can go. And if they are ever sitting at home somewhere with their eye popped out, I’m almost certain that I would go by and visit. And maybe read to them. Or take them chicken soup. At least, I hope I will. But I also hope I never have to find out.
*originally posted on Kick Off Your Shoes And Stay A While on Wednesday, October 11, 2006