The world changed the year I turned seventeen, but no one noticed except me.

I’d learned some highly important lessons that year, things about life and myself that I knew I’d carry with me forever. I’d met a chap I sincerely loved, one who loved me in return. Whether that love would final was anyone’s guess, but I cherished every moment I had with Dylan while I had ’em.

Dylan had won his scholarship to State, but I hadn’t been accepted there. I was going back to my initial plans of taking classes at the Community College. I did score a miniature scholarship, and together with federal grants, it would be enough get me throughout the two-year program. After that, with an Associates degree in my pocket, I could reapply to State to finish my Bachelor’s.

Dylan and I made plans to meet on weekends as often as possible one time school started. he had his car, and I had high hopes of buying one in a short time. I took a job working at the diner with my mom, bussing tables, and saved each spare penny toward that goal. In either case, neither of us was starting school until the fall semester, and we had a long, glorious summer stretching out ahead of us.

I’d learned that wonderful people sometimes make bad choices, and that u can’t blame yourself for what other people do. All a worthy friend can do is to try to change their minds, and then be there to assist pick up the pieces when they fall.

Billy’s folks took him back in, and they began family counseling. He’s on medication and his symptoms have been arrested for the moment. There’s always the possibility that the virus will mutate or progress into full-blown AIDS somewhere down the road, and the medication often makes him very ill. His life isn’t going to be an facile one, and I cry a little inside every time we meet cuz it was all so unnecessary.

He’ll not ever be the same, but I’ll always be his friend and there for him, and that guy knows it.

I’d learned that this world is full of people both good and bad, and that sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference until it’s likewise late. My mommy and I had learned that lesson from Doug, and Billy had learned it from Robbie.

Robbie moved out of town, and didn’t leave a forwarding address. I sure wasn’t sorry to hear that he’d gone, but Billy cried. I guess Billy was still holding on to some fragile, misplaced hope that Robbie would have changed his mind about their relationship. Love is blind, as they say, and in Billy’s case it was blind, deaf, and mute. I don’t think this guy still understands that Robbie had used him. Sometimes I doubt that that guy ever will.

My mamma is set on divorcing Doug, although he’s still in town and we see him from time to time. this guy tried to come back to her once, and I was thrilled and proud when she’d slammed the door in his face and dialed 911. he spent a couple of days in jail for breaking the restraining order, and hasn’t been back since.

mom locks the doors, even during the day when we’re the one and the other at home. She’s afraid Doug will get drunk and come gunning for us. I don’t think so, though. He’s had a taste of jail and I don’t think this chab liked it very much. Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry, I guess.

I realize now that I’d misunderstood all along – the world hadn’t actually changed the year after I turned seventeen.

It was me who’d changed.


Categories: Novelette

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