July 18th, 2020. That morning, I woke up. I usually got the morning newspaper before drinking my coffee, but that morning, I put it off. I had just worked a 16 hour shift and after I slept I was planning to go get groceries for Carl and I. I took a morning nap before though. Carl ran into my room and put the newspaper on my nightstand so that when I woke up, I’d be able to read it, so that’s what I did. I picked it up and on the front page it said, “Maxwell Baltimore, arrested for insider trading and murder: currently incarcerated at Omaha Prison” then, the flashbacks began to flood back.
August 31st, 1994, my first day of freshman year, I walked into school with my best friend, Heather. We were so excited to finally be highschoolers and be able to experience everything, all the good and bad parts of highschool life.
“Boo-ya! Freshman year has begun! How do you feel, Nora?
“Amazing!” I yelled as we ran to our homeroom. We finally got the same homeroom teacher, we were both ecstatic. Then, the excitement turned into disgust as he walked into our classroom. Maxwell Baltimore. The richest kid in the whole school. He had the looks, the charm, and the douche-squad. Some said he even had an affair with a teacher in 8th grade in order to pass. Dang rumors.
“Are you really gonna sit there and drool over him or are you gonna go talk to him?” I nudged Heather's arm and laughed.
“As if!” She was always a terrible liar.
“What. Ever.” I opened my notebook and started to write. Then, Maxwell strutted over like a runway model, and slapped his hand on my desk.
“May I help you?” I asked.
“Nope.” He snarked with his two friends, Christopher and Micheal behind him.
“Then why are you here?” I asked angrily.
“I just feel like it, I guess? What’s it to ya girl?” They laughed like a couple of three stooges.
“You know, you could do whatever you feel like doing at your desk.”
“Talk to the hand girlfriend” They all laughed yet again. They were really starting to push my buttons. So I used my only tool. My legs. I kicked him right where it would most definitely hurt.
“Ow! What did you do that for!” He cried.
“Go do what you want at YOUR desk.” Him and his snarky friends walked off angrily, as I laughed.
“What the hell did you just do!” Heather shrieked.
“What are you talking about?”
“Don’t make an enemy out of Maxwell and his douche-squad!” Heather exclaimed.
“Who said anything about enemies?” I asked. “It was just a friendly, how do you say, braul.” She rolled her eyes and the teacher walked in and class began.
The rest of the day was mostly quiet. I did realize I had 4 classes with Maxwell. My whole day was pretty much him glaring at me with rage in his eyes. All I could do was laugh. Lunch came soon after the 4th period. I sat with Heather obviously, and our other not as important friend, Joanne.
“O M G! Nora! Is it true?” Heather and I looked at each other puzzled as Joanne looked at us excitedly.
“What are you talking about Joanne?” I asked.
“I’m talking about the fact that you begged Maxwell to date you!” My mouth practically fell to the ground.
“I told you not to make an enemy out of the douche-squad.” Heather sipped her chocolate milk as I glared at the douche-squad, especially Maxwell. His deep blue eyes glaring back at me as he smirked and flipped his hair that I loathed. The douche-squad repelled me because of their privilege. I could never imagine myself doing something like that with anyone like them.
“That’s it!” I got up and walked right over to his table and smacked my hand on it. The whole cafeteria looked at me.
“Hey pretty lady.” He snarked.
“Why did you say I begged you to be with me with you to the whole school?” They all laughed.
“You don’t remember darling? You begged me!” He laughed and grabbed my arm gently and stroked the side of my face like a snotty, privileged, low-life. That's when I punched him right in his privileged face. He fell to the ground, I held him by his shirt as he put his hands out.
“Is this what you do?! You get beat by a girl once, and you make up rude and frankly INSULTING rumors about people and make a joke out of-” all the sudden, the principal and vice principal grabbed my arms and walked me off. I looked back at Maxwell’s face, and he looked, deep in thought? I was surprised that he looked genuinely puzzled. I felt good, and guilty about feeling good.
After that, I got a three day suspension. The teachers and staff did understand where I was coming from though. Luckily, I live with my grandparents who were usually black-out drunk half the time.
Three days flew by. I went back to school. As I strolled the hallways, the whole school had their eyes on me. It was weird.
“Hey!” A girl said to me as she grabbed my arm.
“Hey?” I said.
“I just wanted to say I admire you for your courage to stand up to Maxwell and his douchey friends the other day. Way cool!” I smiled as she walked off. All the sudden, I felt this powerful feeling arise in my body. I felt tough, and like I made a difference for people.
I walked into the homeroom and Heather got up and hugged me.
“O M G! Your back!”
“Seems that way.” I chuckled.
“I missed you! By the way, look at Maxwell.” I looked at him as he stared at me, his douche-squad playing hooky in the background. Our eyes met. His eyes were filled with anguish and despair. I didn’t feel bad though.
“He’s probably mad that a girl doesn’t fall at his feet like a helpless puppy and actually stood up to him for once.” Heather and I laughed as the teacher started talking. This class's lesson was different. It was about bullying.
“Right now, bullying is happening somewhere in the world. It’s one of the world's biggest issues, bullying can cause self harm, self hate, and possibly sudicide.” The teacher looked at Maxwell the whole time. Finally he got up and walked over to my desk and stood over me, his eyes looked into mine, longingly.
“I’m so sorry I made you feel less than the incredibly amazing, smart, and courageous woman you are. I shouldn’t degenerate you. Please forgive me.” I looked at him. I was in complete awe. Nobody has ever done something like this for someone here before. Heather’s mouth was practically on the ground.
“I- um.” I paused. “Okay.”
“Okay.” He left the room.
“Mr. Baltimore!” The teacher exclaimed “Nora, go fetch that young man.”
“Just do as I say!” So I did. I ran out in the hallway and walked out the school, and there he was. He was sitting on the school bench, his foot was bouncing up and down like it was going to fall off. He looked irritable and sad. He glanced over at me. I smiled and sat down next to him.
“Hey.” I said.
“Hey.” He said. Awkward silence arose.
“You don’t have to pretend you care, you know?” He said.
“What do you mean?”
“I heard Mrs. Hemingway, she made you come out here. Just go.” I kind of felt, sorry for him. At this point I put my hand on his shoulder and said to him.
“At this point, after what you just did in there, I care.” We talked all through that period, and the next. We skipped two classes talking to each other, until we finally got caught by the vice principal.
After that day, we became the best of friends. He was my rock, at this point more than Heather. I talked to him more, and I laughed with him. Heather had a boyfriend of her own so we drifted apart, I missed her don’t get me wrong, but I really did love having Maxwell in my corner whenever I needed him.
“Hey Nora!” Maxwell exclaimed as we hugged each other in the hallway.
“Hey Maxy, what’s up today? I’m free after school if you wanna go for coffee?”
“Actually…” he paused, “I have a date with a nice girl I met.”
“Oh” I said. “Wow, okay, um, so tomorrow?”
“You are literally the Mary-Kate to my Ashley” we laughed and went into the homeroom. The day was slow, just him and I giggling over silly things and being normal best friends.
After school, I went to Maxwell and I’s coffee shop to study and there was Maxwell on a date with, you guessed it, Joanne. I drifted from her too, so it was really weird seeing her with my best friend. So naturally I walked in, bought a coffee and tried to flee, but he caught me.
“Nora? What are you doing here?” He asked irritably.
“I-I just came for a cup of coffee at our coffee shop.” He rolled his eyes. “What’s wrong?” I asked nervously.
“It’s just, the one day I don’t wanna be around you, you come to our coffee shop on MY date.” I laughed.
“Yeah wow, I’m a master manipulator. You're literally on a date with my ex-best friend, what’s that huh? Loyalty? Commitment? What is your deal!?”
“I just don’t want you here!”
“Tell me WHY!”
“Because I’m in love with you and this was the only way to get you off of my mind, getting another date!” I didn’t realize we were yelling at first. The whole coffee shop had their hands over their mouths and Joanne even stormed out.
“You-” I stopped “R-Really?”
“I have been ever since that time you knocked me over in the cafeteria.”
“What’s so great about me though? Why not go for the smart and pretty girls like Racheal Goldheart, or Clarissa Minidoorf.”
“Those girls don’t understand me like you do, I don’t think anybody has. You're the first person I have ever been in love with. You're not just smart and beautiful, your kind hearted, your a blessing in my life, captivating, extraordinary, and compassionate. You, not Racheal, or Clarissa.” I was speechless. Nobodies ever said this to me, and Maxwell knew this. I’ve never dated anyone before, so this was all new to me, but what happened next, maybe it was instinct? I kissed him, there in front of everyone. They all started clapping.
June 1st, 1997. It was all uphill from there. We were happy, we got weird and disturbed looks in school but we didn’t care. Our love was remarkable. We didn’t care what anyone else thought. The only thing that we cared about was focusing on each other. He even met my grandparents, even though they just shook his hand and continued drinking. Eventually, I just started living with Maxwell. His mom was very nice, his dad was never around so I didn’t get to meet him, yet.
“Maxy! Nora! Someone’s here!” We held hands and walked down the stairs, and there stood a man, he had gray hair, he looked way older than Maxwell's mother. He had a gray suit on, like a businessman.
“Father.” He released my hand and I looked at him.
“Hello son, and who might you be?” He looked me up and down. I was always poor growing up so I didn’t have very expensive looking clothes. Of course Maxwell’s mom did occasionally buy me some, but today I felt like being lazy.
“Hello sir. I am Nora. I’m Maxwell’s girlfriend.”
“Pleasure…” I stuck my hand out to shake and he just looked me up and down again and proceeded to kiss his wife.
“So good to be back, I heard we have a new house guest, darling who is it?
“Oh it’s Nora. She’s been staying here for quite a while.” I smiled at him and he just frowned.
“Wonderful, darling, lets go speak in the kitchen.” They went off to the kitchen and I couldn’t help but follow.
“Hey Maxy, I’m gonna go and use the bathroom quickly.” He nodded and ran back up the stairs. The bathroom was right next to the kitchen, I could hear everything clearly.
“I want that poor degenerate out of my house!”
“But darling! She’s an orphan!”
“I could care less! Get her out!” I stormed out. I ran upstairs and grabbed my stuff out of Maxwell’s room.
“Hey Nora! What are you doing! Nora!” I stormed down the stairs and looked at him as tears fell down my face.
“You know, I waited for this day. I waited for the day that someone would actually love me, and you gave that to me. These three years have been, like a fantasy. I love you, so much. More than I have ever loved someone, but I’m not a degenerate. I’m a person, and this is a fantasy”
“I never said you were-”
“Yeah but your father did.”
“My father isn’t in this relationship, we are!”
“Yeah but other people's opinions still matter.” I sighed “I’m sorry Maxwell. I have to end this.”
“Nora your freaking out over nothing!”
“I’m so sorry!” I ran out the house, that’s the last time I ever saw him.
July 18th, 2020. Jump back to the present. I have two boys, Carl and Koman. I had Koman in 1997. He’s Maxwell’s. I never told him though. Koman is 23 now, and he is a successful psychologist. Carl is 10. He’s a 4th grader. NOT Maxwell’s. Anyways, after I saw the paper, I got up and drove Carl to Komans, so I could go to the prison.
“Hello, I’d like to see Maxwell Baltimore.”
“Conjugal visit?” The guard asked.
“God no!” I choked up. “He’s an old friend.” The guard let me in. When I saw Maxwell, I was in awe. He looked basically the same, just 41, and has a couple grays.
“Nora?” He asked.
“Man, has it been a while. Glad to see you.”
“Sorry it had to be like this, I should’ve reached out sooner.” I started fidgeting with my bracelet.
“Please don’t be nervous, Nora.”
“How did you-”
“The bracelet, it’s the same one I got you in 1995. You fidget with it when you get nervous.”
“Easy for you not to be nervous, you're not talking to an inside trader, a murderer, and your ex all rolled into one.” It was wrong but we both laughed.
“We only have five minutes, so why are you here?” He asked.
“I just figured, you're probably gonna be in prison for your whole life or maybe be set free, so I just wanted to apologize.”
“Leaving you like that in ‘97. I was just insecure about what your dad had said and your lavish lifestyle, and I came from nothing. Maybe it was also I felt like I didn’t deserve you. Just know, I’ve regretted it every day since.”
“Nora, never be sorry. You are happy now and that’s all that matters. Whatever happened in the past is in the past. Plus, I know you have 2 boys, and one is named after my middle name.”
“How did you-?”
“Koman. My middle name.” At this point I was kind of nervous if he knew he was the father or not. “Whoever the father was in ‘97 is a lucky man.” The last three minutes were just us catching up, before I had to leave forever.
“I gotta go now.” I put my hand up to the glass, as he did the same.
“I was so nice to see a friendly face again, Nora.” He said.
“The feelings are mutual. Goodbye, Maxwell.”
“Goodbye, Nora.” So I left, so much left unsaid, things I wanted to say, but couldn't but I will. One day. For now, the only thing I must worry about is my grocery list.