In this small town where my freckles have returned, where the headline on the paper reads Destroying Mailboxes Not Funny (really), I have seen my second movie in two days, a rarity in the even smaller town where I live, where movies are forty minutes away, as are bookstores, where I feel like a settler. Last night I saw The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants with my mother. It was good, not as good as I hoped it would be, but good to sit there in the dark with her.
I am thinking of a girl I knew, my friend in 3rd grade. Not my best friend, but magic. I knew it even then, her name so magic, so perfect and lovely, I cannot speak it here. She had short hair like a boy's. She could outrun the boys. She had a shirt that looked like a tuxedo, printed with a white bow-tie. She wore dresses over jeans--the first girl I knew to do this. Soon I would be a girl to do this, but not then. She was killed with her sister, murdered, drowned by someone close to them, who thought she was saving them.
It was the exact moment I stopped believing in god, when my mother turned down The Muppet Show, but left it on, cloth monsters dancing silent in the background, and brought out all the newspaper clippings she had saved, how they had looked for them for days. You must understand, it had rained and rained. The river was flooded, and everyone looked, all but us children who were not told, who knew them and did not know. The minor league baseball team looked, and it is this I remember: the newspaper photograph of a big catcher, a broad-shouldered, mustached, grown man, up to his chest in the brown water, spreading his arms.
In the movie, a sick child in the hospital says to another girl, the one who has visited, one who is making a film: Finish your movie.
Why? the girl asks.
Because you can.
I don't need a movie to tell me this. Or maybe I do.
Finish the book. Write another. Fall in love with him. Love him. Because you can.