KISSING RIVER PHOENIX A Short Story by Kat Moore
irdie sat outside the guidance counselor’s office. They must know, she thought, that she was changing her grades on her report card. She had a D in Earth Science and in English. Earth Science was boring and lacked magic, and when the test had asked how mountains were formed, she answered “God” though she wasn’t sure if she even believed in him. She liked English but couldn’t muster the attention span for Shakespeare or Hawthorne. She preferred to read books by Robert Cormier or J.D. Salinger and had just finished The Catcher in the Rye. She didn’t understand why Holden was in the mental hospital at the end, and that scared her. Maybe she would suddenly be put in a mental institution. Here she was in eighth grade already being called to the guidance counselor’s office. If they knew she was changing her grades, then her parents knew. They must have figured it out and called the school to verify it. She could cry and blame it on her brother’s illness and say she didn’t want to be a burden on them and her grades were slipping because she was sad. Part of it was true. She changed the grades so she wouldn’t get in trouble. Martin Woody loved his fiancée, Meredith, but she could be difficult. She didn’t like change and took it as a personal insult if he ran late or had to postpone a date. He was finishing up his daily log when Gary Macintosh, the principal and his boss, knocked on W W W. M E M P H I S . E D U
his door, holding a piece of notebook paper. Martin asked if it could wait, but Mac said no and that the girl was already being called to his office. Martin called Meredith to ask if their lunch date could be pushed back thirty minutes.
guess that student is more important than me.” As her voice came through the receiver, Martin heard the teeth behind the comment. Fifteen years ago, he wouldn’t have put up with this, but now his hair thinned and his belly stuck out a bit over his belt. The once glamorous bachelorhood had turned into lonely middle age. “Mere, this is my job,” he sighed. “I will hurry.”
irdie had been in the hallway sliding a card through one of the slits in Jimmy Lowell’s locker when Mrs. Owens, the school secretary, said her name. Jimmy had never spoken to Birdie or even acknowledged her existence. It was his birthday, and she’d bought him a card in hopes he would finally notice her, really see her, and discover she was the one. She liked him because he looked like River Phoenix in The Mosquito Coast. Birdie heard the squeak of a chair inside the guidance office, and then the door moved. A man with a blond combover, wearing a baby blue suit with a too big collar and a plaid tie, stood in the doorway. “Hello, Bridget, I’m Mr. Woody.” SP R I NG 2014
Spring 2014 issue of U of M Magazine