Once Upon a Time

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Anthony Kingsley was an enigma. Hansom. Charming. Charismatic. Star of the football team. Life of the party. Voted Class Flirt in the Senior Superlatives. He embodied high school.

I, on the other hand…well, let’s just say, my primary objective in high school was to become invisible. All I wanted was to graduate and get the hell out of Dodge.

To say we came from two different worlds is a severe understatement. But as fate would have it, Anthony and I were thrown together much more often than our social circles willingly permitted. We were both enrolled in an environmental magnet program; essentially a school within a school. My graduating class of 700, was pared down to a meager 60 students participating in an intensive study of environmental sciences, cultivating an intimate learning environment for all involved.

I guess you could say there was always an underlying chemistry between Anthony and I, though at the time I would never have believed (admitted) it. As I saw it, I was the victim of unwanted attention. Our field trips generally consisted of Anthony tormenting me in one way or another: Throwing a fish down my shirt. Yes, a fish. To be fair it was probably more of a minnow, but traumatic all the same. Or running a stick up my leg, forcing me to imagine any number of creepy crawlies forging an attack. He had an arsenal of tricks up his sleeve capable of causing endless distress.

I have this memory, that may be a dream, that may be a memory. I told Anthony about it once and now he believes it more than I do. Once a year, our magnet program would take an overnight intensive field trip. In this memory-dream, we are on a night hike and Anthony decided to hide in the bushes and wait for his unsuspecting prey to walk past. As soon as I reached his hiding place, he sprang from his ambush, sending me into a full fledged panic attack. His convictions got the better of him and he grabbed my face and gave me a pop-kiss, the shock of which paralyzed me on the spot. Dream or not, there was chemistry between us.

Graduation day came and went and I made good on my goal to escape. I left the country without a second glance back and with no intention of ever returning. Over the next 12 years, I would see the world. Not quite the whole world, but close. Every once in a while, in between adventures, I would end up back in my hometown. Throughout those years, I would run into Anthony from time to time, the attraction between us ever-increasing, the timing always wrong.

Until one day, two and a half years ago, I decided to go to the fair. I was back in town (man, this town has a way of pulling you back!), the weather was beautiful and the night was young. As my girlfriend and I walked the grounds, a man stepped forcibly in front of me, arm extended. “Give me your hand,” he demanded. I ignored him and tried to walk on. “Give me your hand,” he said again. I pressed on. And yet again he commanded me to relinquish my¬† hand. In frustration, I thrust my hand into his, never once bothering to look at his face. He readily laid claim to his prize and spun me around pulling me close as he did so. Our eyes locked and then he relaxed, whispering the words, “I know you.” And for once the timing was right. Or so I thought.

Anthony and I knew each other. But we did not know each other.