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Michelle McMahon – The Solar Eclipse in Seventh Grad

Michelle McMahon


The Solar Eclipse in Seventh Grade (a cut-up)

Memories
             I have seventh grade memories, flashbacks to summers ago, when I used the oil crayons
and had a crush.  I couldn’t outline my monarch or walking stick, but we sat next to each other in
natural science and drew roses with dewdrops.
             I remember.
             He dumped me for a girl who wore a bra.  I muted Tiny Toons to answer the phone and
be told to my room.  I had to take a deep breath and say, “Okay,” before I hung up the phone.  I
had my index cards as I gave my speech the next day.
             It was limp in my mouth every time we did, as I was told it would have to be.

Sean
             Before we broke up, we went to dances. Not much else happened between us, or my
thigh, as we danced to slow jams in the smelly dust because Mr. Randall, my science teacher,
was nearby.  I had nothing but mosquito bites underneath my T-shirt, cigarettes, and tire chains.
Mr. Randall was coffee breath on my face, pretending to be staring as we made viewing devices
to watch the solar eclipse.  I had the most extra credit points now that I wanted to be a solar
scientist.  He laughed and probably picked up on the sentiments that Sean and I broke up shortly
after the solar eclipse.
             I never saw him again after it all happened.  The new teacher explained the project,
collecting insects in the middle school bathroom with cotton balls and then mounting them in a
frame where Jill went to smoke pot.  A boy told me he liked to kill animals, which included
eating them or stuffing them for tourists.  I stared at the chipped purple ceiling after science team
meets.  He probably would have wanted to kill the insects, especially butterflies.  Three weeks
later, when other students found out, I passed my sketch book of natural paper bound with red
from the art supply store in Stockholm, the one with wandering eyes and colored pencils he had
given me to shade four types of beetles, one of them perched off her face and touching her boob,
but with artistic detail.

Mr. Randall
             But he must have found something, pretending to be searching for the words at my table
during independent work time, anything to be his favorite student.
             “Your hair is beautiful,” he said.
             I brushed my hair across the table through the course of the year.  I imagined it really did
look pretty though.  He used to stare at my red and white striped T-shirt while he leaned over my
desk and touched my paper with his dry fingers.  He signed me up for the science team, which I
loved the sound of.  I told Sean.  We still sat next to each other.  Heather even killed insects in
jars with alcohol-soaked scientists and decorations of dissecting worms.  I decided not to and
found a level of sophistication in the old jam jars.  We spent an entire class period making polish
on my toes as I explained to him that I didn’t see the eclipse on Thursday.  Natural science was
bumblebees, so I could draw them.
             He was Wednesday and Fridays.
             Hands would be nothing more.
             Maggie once said that Mr. Randall said something I can’t quite remember, asked me if it
was a rumor.  I had no breasts, but he called me one Wednesday afternoon.  I probably should
have had shoulder length hair and said, “Sean doesn’t want to go out anymore.”  Nothing about
me was attractive.  When I joked in class or French kissed boys, his tongue was fat and swollen
and my hair looked like slime in the summer from the chlorine in the pool.  One time he touched
it, when I felt several of his boners on my paper scream, “Look out!”
             We saw one movie in our town next to the village store that sold stale bread.  We sat next
to each other in science.
             Mr. Randall talked about me every Tuesday in the faculty lunchroom.  He had sandy
blonde hair and bright green eyes: us and me.  He walked through the library that joined the high
school like an older brother.  So many hours wasted on our side.
             After it happened, he moved to Vermont to teach fly-fishing.
             It happened to me.  I let Mr. Randall drive me home.
             Why not Maggie?  She actually filled out a bra, not like me, which touched my boob.
             We went to the baseball field behind the school while he dissected worms that we should
name Abraham.  He squinted into a purple shiny tube with sticky hands.  By the time we hit the
doorway with our hearts, we were racing.  He later called me to break the bad news about the
telescope.
             I didn’t dare tell.

The solar eclipse
             I couldn’t suffer the retina-burning rays on Tuesdays in preparation for it and say, “I saw
the eclipse and it was magnificent.”  Sean ran back to me panting, out of breath.  At least my art
teacher thought so, and she asked me and I repeated his question.  But I could never be an artist
because scientists see the solar system.
             At Freemont Middle School, Heather whined, “Oh me.”  He thought he was handsome
for a teacher.  Sean already left me, let go of my eyes.  I saw nothing.  Everyone else swore they
saw Mr. Randall’s station wagon.  I wanted nothing more than to stare at the sky into blindness,
just so I couldn’t see it anymore.  But I didn’t.
             He puffed, “Did you see it?”
             Mr. Randall said, “Look, there’s a young man over the eclipse.”  He put his hands on my
shoulders.
             I lied that night over baby new potatoes and meatballs and said it was absolutely
beautiful, so beautiful in fact.  But I didn’t see it.

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