It was my freshmen year when we used to sneak off campus to smoke our dad’s cigarettes, we were the last the class before they allowed girls to go to St. Catherine’s so we didn’t have much to do beyond that. My friend Jim, though his mom called him Jimmy always had to borrow one from me because his dad died the last summer of a heart attack and his new step dad didn’t like cigarettes. “He once caught me with a matchbook in my pocket and beat me for a week because of it” he would tell as he’d strike up a match and attempt to light one of my dad’s Winston’s. I could tell he really didn’t want to smoke them but those were what Jim’s father loved when he was still alive. I think Jim’s step dad was a man of the church or something I never really asked because he seemed like a mean man. Every day at lunch like the older boys we’d just walk out in the crowd and head straight for the cemetery that was across from our school. It had to have been there for at least a hundred years, some of the stones were so crumbled that we couldn’t even read them; my friends and I liked this one grave because we could smoke behind it and not be in the view of the school. We wanted to forget we were there sometimes. The grave had a name we spent months trying to figure out, the moss and time didn’t help us. The closest thing to a name we could think of was “Jedidiah” and we stuck with it. Every day after the bell we’d leave and I’d say it was “time for a smoke break with Jed” kind of like he was a member of our group just as eager to get some moments like us. Jim would occasionally ask Jed questions, “So Jed did you ever have to sneak around to not get caught smoking?” and “What’s it like being down there? I bet you get all sorts of up skirt views.” It went like this for three months at the beginning of the year, even when we were out there freezing our asses off we’d still be there. But right before Christmas break we we’re sitting out there shivering and fumbling to strike the matches with our red numb fingers when I looked over at our friend Yancy, he didn’t ever say a lot but he had this look on his face like he was about to die. “What’s the matter Yancy? Can’t handle your cig?” I laughed. He shook his head and just stared behind me. I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out and then I looked at Jim and he had the look of death too. I turned around and all the way across the cemetery was our principal walking towards the middle where we were. None of us really said anything at that point we all just ran as fast as we could before he’d get close enough to really notice us. I don’t remember where Jim and Yancy went but I do know that I went face first into some bushes and prayed harder than I ever prayed in school. I think the praying worked because none of us we’re caught that day. I was able to watch the principal through the leaves and notice him going through the gate on the other side of the cemetery into a house across the street. He must’ve lived there or something and had been taking a short cut home. How we’d never noticed before is beyond me. We never went back there during lunch but before school the next day I came by and left a package of my dad’s Winston’s on Jed’s grave hoping he’d forgive us for never coming
This has been “Jimmy” by Stefan Matusak, Story Three in Series One of Sleepless Stories.
Stefan Matusak is a young writer from Vancouver, WA he has recently finished his time at the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics and is going on to Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. While attending he hopes to study creative writing and history. You can contact Stefan at firstname.lastname@example.org