A collaboration …
Words by me. Oh, and my photographs can be found at One Possible Reflection if you’re interested.
When I was twelve, Dad’s work took me from our small town home in Nevada, to the city of Detroit. We rented a rundown house just off 8 Mile Road, neglected and dirty, but Dad said it was cheap. The backyard was huge with a big oak tree in one corner, off of which hung a double-width swing suspended on thick ropes. I sat on that swing, alone, most days.
When I was thirteen, as a gawky boy from the dust of Mojave, I found it impossible to make friends. Kids used to either beat on me or ignore me. Then Macie moved in next door with her Mom and Dad. She was even more weird than me. Our parents got on well, so she and I spent the summer together in shared silence. We soon became girlfriend and boyfriend, but I never told her that we were. We sat on that swing together, most days.
It was around my fourteenth birthday when Macie disappeared. Her parents were still at the house, but Macie was no longer around. My Mom and Dad would speak about her in hushed tones. When I asked after her all I got told was that she had gone away for a while. Macie came back three months later with hair shaved and metal in her head.
As we sat on the swing, I stared at the side of her head. Then I asked her what happened:
She told me, “I got myself a summer job in the zipper factory. I fell into the biggest machine in the place, and when I came out I looked like a jacket.”
I laugh-snorted. She looked at me, sad.
“You are teasing me. Tell me the truth,” I begged.
“OK. You got me. I am an Alien in a human skin-suit, and this zip is how I get in and out.”
This time she smiled. I could tell it hurt her to smile, and not a physical pain.
“That’s silly,” I exclaimed. “Tell me the truth.”
She stopped the swing and climbed off.
“I don’t remember. They told me I stepped out in front of a bus.”
I stared at the side of Macie’s head. The ladder of staples glinted in the sun, a shallow arc from just behind her temple to the top of her ear.
“Stepped out? By accident or did you do it on purpose?”
She turned to face me.
“I don’t remember.”