Black Sweater

Black Sweater

A bottle of Elmer’s glue lay slain on its side as a white pool formed around the oozing wound. Hands caked with the hardened adhesive threw fistfuls of glitter across the table, breaching the fort of paper and fabric on both sides. It was a wicked conquest of artistic warfare between two friends inside a classroom.

So there we were, my best friend and I, creating a whirlwind of harmless sparkles and glue, when the teacher approached, her brow contorted in anger and her arms crossed defensively when she discovered us and permanently banned us from using any and all forms of glitter and glue.

One might say that it’s obvious what would happen thereafter when we switched to painting techniques later in the term. I think I was painting a tribute to some adored band of mine at the time, lost in my own little world. I was sitting Indian-style, bundled in my coziest over-sized black sweater and doing my own thing. Sort of.

Behind the veil of the dark fabric, I could slip past the gazes of onlookers, ignore the whispers that followed in the halls.

I had an inkling to set down my painting, stroll over to my best friend, and casually high five her face with some bright paint and…flee. Gracefully. Of course, that is, meaning to stumble over a ton of chairs and play a small game of cat and mouse, only to end up cornered and defenseless, while she viciously sprung on me with paintbrush in hand and revenge gleaming in her hazel eyes. I wrapped my arm around my face, and prepared for fire.

Splat! Deep purple sunk into the sleeve, my sleeve, bleeding onto the fabric turning black into purple. The fiend looked to me with such an impish expression and grinned behind her yellow war paint, a triumphant air about her.

The pasty purple color would, long after being washed with the sweater, forever remind me of those crazy antics in art class.

~~~

Autumn leaves like crisp corsages on the eve of prom fell to the earth floor, discarded with the passage of time. Outside, I sat mesmerized by the swaying colors and playful breeze from the view of a swing set on one or many occasions. With soothing melodies reverberating from the headphones that spiraled about from my ears to the iPod tucked away in the wide pocket of my sweater. In one hand, I held a pencil, and in another, a notebook, filled with my words, my stories. Endless hours were spent in the chilly gaze of autumn in my backyard.

~~~

Shadows seemed to linger longer in February. Sometimes, if I inhaled too deeply, darkness could swallow me. The walls around me were barren, stripped of anything familiar or loving. My childhood home had been stolen, abandoned, and everything I had known was tossed aside as I left the small town I grew up in and moved into a house in the city with my family. It was a raw feeling, the kind of hurt that lingers too long. In February, my life was placed on “pause” in many ways. Suddenly, the world around me was so massive and congested. I would spend my evenings wrapped inside my sweater, grasping onto the past with phone calls and letters from friends.

~~~

The end of freshman year was the beginning of my high school career at my new school. The first day I attended, I wore my sweater like a shield as I entered such foreign and strange territory. Behind the veil of the dark fabric, I could slip past the gazes of onlookers, ignore the whispers that followed in the halls. The building allowed for a vast number of kids to populate its institution, so unlike the small and integrated school I had left. It was easy to feel engulfed in the tremendous flow and become completely lost and faceless amongst the many people.

Somewhere along the line, I had developed a skill to blend in by viewing the world from the outside of the looking glass. Every morning I slipped on my shoes, painted on a layer of apathy and hid behind sheets of black. Not a particularly uncommon experience for kids, I’m sure, but it weighed pretty heavy for me. I kept to myself for so long that I didn’t bother speaking to anyone or reaching outside. I had built a cocoon and never left its comfort.

~~~

“Mint, please.”

I nonchalantly handed a mint to the left of me. Minutes passed, uninterrupted. I was behind a desk in geometry class during some down time. A bit of smeared lead wore on my left sleeve from scratching out the numbers and equations.

“Can I has another?”

A lanky girl tilted her head curiously, wary of asking a third…fourth time. Her feet tucked under my seat in an awkwardly close approximation. Next to her, a girl with dark eyes and a shaky smile stood against the heater by my desk. After digging into the wide pockets of my sweater, I tossed each of them a mint and smirked as one fell to the ground with a disappointed pop! and she looked to me remorsefully. “Mint?”

~~~

I was surrounded by two of my best friends, those very same friends from geometry, after a high school talent show rehearsal. Rosy nosed and tingling from excitement, we exited the school and plunged into the night. I linked arms with my friends and trudged through the thick, heavy snow that piled on the ground. I grasped the silvery zipper of my sweater and tugged it close to my neck, and flipped the hood over my head as a second thought to the chilly weather. I remember looking up at an endlessly black sky, and remarking on how polar the image was: below us, a glistening and newly trampled sludge of white, and above us, the deepest and blackest of space, nothingness and complexity all at once. Beautiful, really. I paused, slipping out of the link between my friends and crouched down to scoop a bit of snow into my hand. I threw the snowball at a friend, and began what was a mighty epic snow fight.

Breathless and shivering from the chilling snow that twinkled in our hair and melted on our skin, we fell back against the earth as though we were to make snow angels, but we just laid there, laughing and never minding the cold we would all get after that night. I walked away from that scene later, mindful of the sweater that drooped and clung to my skin and dripped over the snow and later on the leather interior of my dad’s car.

~~~

Graduation approached hazily and before I could have imagined, it was time to put an end to high school and begin something new. After a long day of ceremonial motions and matters, I took off my graduation garb and placed my sweater over the dress I wore. I wrapped my arms around myself, around my sweater, and released a relieved sigh before I returned to the commotion and newness of finishing high school.

~~~

Peculiar how so few pieces of our past follow us to our future. Most tend to fall away and slip through our fists and become forgotten. Likewise, people who surround us and become personally involved at some point all eventually lose hold of us and we drift apart. I see it like everything is transient. Fleeting and difficult to secure, so when something sticks with you for a lengthy period, it’s unusual. One plain oversized sweater that rested, forgotten, in the summer months and was rediscovered only to receive a large sum of wear and tear with age. It seems like it’s been around forever in my life. Where or when it came into my possession has long since faded from my mind. But it’s still here on a hanger, its sleeves draping downward and the zipper up top, the fabric starting to fray a bit, sort of like a giant black sweater-cape that somehow manages to keep me warm and can makeshift into a swirly pillow during dull lectures or early mornings. Kind of like a Transformer…only not, because it’s a sweater. Nonetheless, it’s still the sweater that’s lasted through several years and has tagged along with me, from meeting a best friend, graduating from high school, and everything else. I have lost plenty of friends throughout the years. I still wear my sweater on rainy days.


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