There is something to be said about a brightly colored daisy. It is not something that everyone is a fan of, but my best friend loved daisies. She would adore the flowers and her boyfriend would give her some every year on her birthday, Valentine’s Day, and all other celebratory days.
She knew how to get someone to fall head over heels for her. She was so talented at it that no one bothered to question the fact that she had more than one boyfriend at once. It was something that people just accepted as fact. I didn’t think it was right, but it was her life, not mine, and so who was I to judge?
Either way, she always wore bright colors and patterns that didn’t match. She and I seemed to always be stuck in the same history class as each other. Those poor teachers didn’t know what was coming their way when both our names were there on the class roster. She got me through history, which makes it worth saying that she was a lot better at academics in general than I was.
Then again, I never liked history. There was an element of it that was somewhat interesting, but the rest of it ended up being boring. There was a need to get through centuries of history in a short time, and so the details were always glazed over, which meant the factual information meant nothing to me. I needed something more than just a simple fact. I wanted a story to go along with everything.
Of course, my history teacher never liked the idea of putting in a story to complement history. Doing so was apparently informal and detracted from the real event. Mind you, I never liked writing an essay, and so having to write one about a topic that I may or may not know a lot about terrified me.
I liked knowing what was coming. I liked being able to choose most of what I was going to say to be graded on. There was something rude about expecting me to remember everything just so that, should it ever happen to be the essay topic, I can write the topic according to their rules.
I never liked that there were so many rules to the essay structure. Wasn’t it enough to write a decent essay? That was pushing my skills already. But now there was a format that I should follow. My teacher called it an inverted triangle. I will never know why, considering it looked right-side up to me, but the point is that there was a set way to make art. To me, writing is art. I wanted to tell the story of history.
I wanted it in the present tense, so that it seemed interesting. I wanted to add in dialogue and anecdotes. I wanted there to be something within the work that made people want to read it and not dread having to read it. Although I never did throw in dialogue, which would have likely sounded wonderful but fared poorly for me, I did write several essays in the present tense. History was supposed to be alive.
Since it was supposed to be alive, and people called Griots were storytellers who spread around history in certain ancient cultures, I wanted my work to be able to be told in such a manner. And so, I wrote mine in a poem one time. My teacher did not appreciate the poetry enough, but I was proud of it.
At the year’s end, my teacher told me that I was a great writer, but a terrible historian. I don’t know what he expected me to say, but saying that I knew was likely not what he had expected.
When I was talking with Ricky about his life, he always shied away from telling me the full stories that he had begun. Mason did the same thing, but he was more likely to get stuck on a tangent so irrelevant to the story that there was no way to recover. But Ricky, he would go ahead and avoid the topic completely.
It was because of this that I would go around and try to figure out everything that there was to know about Ricky and other people. There was only so far that I could get every time and I was not willing to let everything die off within the first few tries. It was always a long shot, but I was always willing to try.
Ricky and I were sitting there, looking up at the fluffy clouds, taking a break from our conversation in which I was about to find out more about Mason. Someone had to know the full story that he neglected to tell me, and Ricky was just as good as anyone else would be. He had to know the tale of woe.
He and I were gazing up ahead and he begins to ask me about the house. “So, even though you refuse to tell me about what you were doing in his house, you may as well tell me about what you ended up destroying. He was an incredibly organized guy, you know.” I had figured as much.
“So you mean to tell me that the labeled boxes weren’t just a front?”
He was not amused at my joke. “Well, he just liked to know where everything was.”
“He didn’t label the boxes very well if that was his ultimate goal.”
“No one ever said that he knew how to be organized, just that he liked to be.”
“If you like to be something, then you would know exactly how to do it.”
“That’s not always how it works, despite what you want to believe.”
“No, that is always how it works. That is not what I believe, it’s what I know.”
“So what did you find in his house?”
“Considering I only went into his room, I can’t speak to what’s in the rest of the house.”
“Fine.” He was annoyed. “What did you find in his room?”
“I found boxes of artwork, and then a lot of sketchbooks.”
“Was there anything in the boxes that you found compelling?”
“Well, the sketchbooks were something interesting.”
“So you simply adore the beginning stages of his artistic genius.”
“Am I not supposed to appreciate the artwork before it is truly something stunning?”
“Well, you should look at the work when it’s complete before you decide.”
“That wasn’t exactly the option when I was there.”
“Still, you should look for the completed piece first.”
“Why don’t you point me in the direction of where the completed pieces are first?”
“That’s not always as simple as you would like it to be.”
“So then why do you think that I would be able to find them?”
“You’re the one who was gutsy enough to go into a house and then empty boxes.”
“You’re the one who knows the guy rather well.” I was becoming more and more frustrated with him. “You would know where his artwork is. What is there that you’re refusing to tell me?”
“Why can’t you accept the fact that you didn’t look hard enough?”
“Maybe it’s because I did look hard enough and that was all I could do.”
“Why didn’t you look harder? You never seem to stop. So why did you then?”
“There wasn’t something that I could do. I had done everything else.”
“There was something that you could do, but you refused to do it. You go ahead and enter into people’s houses and care not one bit about what you do to tear the place apart, but you can’t even be bothered to try to find the crowned jewel within the pieces. There was something else. You didn’t try.”
“Why don’t you go into a stranger’s house and tell me how easy it is to go through someone’s items and find the best works that there are? It’s not that simple. Trust me on this. You know I’m right.”
“There is something that you’re refusing to tell me. There’s a reason you stopped.”
“There’s a reason that you stop your stories short, but you haven’t told me that, have you?”
“Are we really going there? I can’t believe how childish you are.”
“I can’t believe how childish you are, insisting that there is a lot I overlooked.”
“Tell me that there honestly was nothing more that you could have done.”
“Tell me that you wouldn’t have sat there with papers strewn around you and been so overwhelmed at what you just did that you cannot do anything more. If you can honestly tell me that, then fine, I’ll at least consider that there may have been something more that I could have done.”
“I can’t say that I would have been able to get there and then do even more.”
“So then why do you expect me to have done more?”
“You were never friends with the guy, and so there is no reason to expect you to have become attached to what you found. There is no reason that you should have gotten so emotional over it. You never even met him. There is nothing that would stop you from continuing on with what you were doing.”
“You think that I’m able to make logical decisions. But I don’t do that.”
“What happened before then that made you stop trying to look further?”
“You wouldn’t understand if I told you.”
“What makes you think that?”
“It’s a completely stupid reason. There’s no reason you would get it.”
“So, rumor has it that you weren’t alone in Steven’s house.”
“Rumor would be correct. I was not alone, although I somewhat wish that I was alone. It would have made things a lot better. It would have made everything much simpler. But I don’t get that choice.”
“So who was the lucky person who was able to be there with you the entire time?”
“Mason Gray. The guy who told you about what had happened.”
“He was the one there with you? Why wouldn’t he tell me your name?”
“Did you ask him for it or did you expect him to just give it to you?”
“I really don’t see what the difference between the two is.”
“You don’t see the difference or you don’t want to see the difference?”
“You dropped your subject. Let me drop mine.”
“As you wish. So, what do you know about Mason?”
“I know a lot more than I care to know. How much time do you have?”
“I have as much time as you need.”
“That’s good. Because this story will take a while.”
He stood up and I did so, too. I was wondering to where we were going, but I didn’t do anything except for follow him. It was going to be somewhere that we could just hang around and not worry about being interrupted by anyone or anything. He was able to choose somewhere that we could go, somewhere that we would both like and that neither of us would have too many complaints about.
It was his town, after all. He would know the perfect place to go to chat at.