People used to say that Ginny Gallagher was the best climber in Scoeville. The way she could shimmy up a tree put squirrels to shame. I saw her climb up a rope in the gym, once. Lickety-split.
They say that Ginny was part chimpanzee, but even with people talking like that, she graduated valedictorian. To be fair, I’ve never met a chimp, but I can’t imagine they’re very smart. And Ginny was whip-crack smart. We were in chemistry together, and she figured out how all those formulas and equations and little shapes fit together like she was a bird taking to the wing.
We have a good college in town. Scoville Community College gets students from two counties over, and one girl came from Kentucky, even. No one was too surprised, though, when Ginny accepted a scholarship and senatorial nomination to West Point academy. I was sad she was leaving, but I was proud down to my toes.
I like to listen, and I’d hear people talk about Ginny in high school all the time. They talked about how good she was at chemistry. And they talked about how she used to climb, and how she could make a free-throw nine times out of ten. They almost never talked about how she looked though. I looked better than her, and my teeth were all sorts of messed up. My parents could afford braces, I just didn’t want them.
That first time Ginny came home from West Point, she’d bloomed. I don’t know how else to say it. She was hiding something before, that’s for sure, but it wasn’t hidden anymore. She told me she just wanted to wear pretty clothes because she was so sick of uniforms.
A lot of the time, when someone starts wearing fancy clothes those clothes wear them instead, and they end up looking real out of sorts, but the military had already kicked in, and that girl could command. She stood tall, and those clothes listened, and they treated her in the best light every time.
She let me try on some of her clothes. She looked confident and regal in those clothes. I looked like a bumpkin. That’s alright. I like big sweaters. They’re good to me.
Folks started saying that Ginny Gallagher was head over heels for some boy. That made me sad. Not because she had a beau. I was just sad because she didn’t tell me first. Those feelings went away right quick when she called me a month later crying. That’s when I started to figure out how a boy can mess with your head so you forget about everything else, even your best friends. She talked to me when it counted, though. I still hope that boy gets blown up.