C+J Forever

Author: Claudia Terry

A little story about growing up and the catalysts that take you there.

Jeanie wore her heart on her sleeve and her conscience on her T-shirt. �O Pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth, that I am meek and gentle with these butchers.� her white T raged Shakespeare in Roman script atop a background of clear- cut logging.
Freddie was more blas�, �Barbie is a whore� and �I (heart) clubbing�-with a club and seal in silhouette, were more his style.
They said that they were in love, but nobody really wanted to know about it. They would cuddle at the school gates, their embrace timeless as young lovers, mascared eyes challenging intrusion as they looked darkly over each others shoulder.
In late November their devotion was challenged. �Light my fire�, his Amnesty International candle blazing white on black, arrived. Freddie quickly tagged the newcomer �Torch� and this, like all of Freddie�s nick names was quickly adopted by the rest of the students.
Torch turned up in Jeanie�s Science class. She was immediately curious about him in a way that she wouldn�t have been had she not sensed in him something different, something that she knew made him more like her then any of their classmates.
Jeanie began to look forward to Science class where she would study Torch, who was always on time and seemingly interested in what the teacher had to say. He was tall and gawky with ok skin and a flamboyant bob of curly blond hair. � prep � skater, he defied classification, and she didn�t know what to make of him. Where did he fit into his previous school setup? Had he been popular? Had he been a �weirdo� like Fred and Jeanie? Was it possible that he�d had a Jeanie himself?
One day the Science teacher asked the students to split off into twos for a specimen gathering excursion into the woods behind the school. Everyone quickly paired off leaving Torch and Jeanie with no choice but to go together. He introduced himself, �I�m Chris.�
�I�m Jeanie.� She said following his lead. She secretly hoped that this was all a formality and that he�d already known her name.
They walked quietly side by side following their classmates into the woods. At the edge of the forest Torch reached out to her, �Follow me,� he said, placing a large hand gently on her arm, �there�s something that I want to show you.� Jeanie followed as he led her away from the path and into the deep woods.
�It�s around here� he said stopping in the centre of a small clearing. Jeanie watched as he bisected, then slowly walked the circumference of the clearing, finally stopping before a towering fir. �Here it is.�
She walked over to the tree, wandering what it was that was so special about this fir amongst dozens. And how did he come to this place? She had lived in the area for years and had no associations with anything in the wood. He must do a lot of wondering she thought. Was Torch a nature lover?
�Look here,� he said, pointing to a spot about five feet up, just below the trees bottom branch.
Her eyes followed his and she saw that the tree had been carved with two initials a sentiment date: �C+J Forever, 1939�
Jeanie didn�t know what to say, �Cool, that�s really old.�
Torch looked at her, his eyes showed concern, �Do you think he was killed in the war?�
Jeanie was surprised by the question, �What war?� she said stupidly, more a reaction then a question.
�My great granddad fought in the First War.� He said graciously ignoring her lapse into stupidity. �They called it �The Great War for Civilisation�, strange that.�
Jeanie wanted to know more. It felt good spending time with Torch; he was interesting, unpredictable, an odd sort of sensible guy. He was a bit like an old person, thoughtful and respectful. �Tell me about your Granddad.�
�I will someday.� he said, then he once again put his hand to her arm and they walked out of the woods, collecting specimens on their way.