Carol Maureen Barker
It was a long time ago now. It was in my sixteenth year, and the best and only good thing about that time was the making of a very best friend. Nowadays the kids would say BFFs and that was what Carol Maureen Barker was to me.
We were both Sagittarians. She was crazy and creative and I was just crazy. She could draw anything at all and had the best sense of humour. I could not draw but I could laugh.
Her family lived in fashionable Oakridge in a house that looked like a castle with a terrace across the upper front. My family lived in a 1920's bungalow in Shannon-Marpole that noone would ever confuse with a chateau, castle or gatehouse. We lived 27 blocks away from each other, give or take a few.
I had the misfortune to have a younger brother who needed babysitting. She had a huge family and went out to babysit. My mom paid me in cigarettes. Carol got cash.
It was a Friday night and Carol had a babysitting job. It was on 46th avenue across Oak street which was, even then a fairly busy main road. Carol did not want to take the job as the family generally got the elder brother to drive her home. She hated that. I promised to meet her and go together.
Friday night was a lousy night and my mother was out later than she thought. When she came home she had absolutely no ambitions to go out again.
Carol called to remind me of my promise. I looked outside to the rain. It was 11 pm.
"Aww I don't want to."
"YOU PROMISED ME!!!"
I whined some more and then in fit of anger she yelled into the phone:
"I HATE YOU" and hung up.
I shrugged and looked outside again. It really was a horrid night.
The phone rang after midnight and it was another friend.
"Have you heard from Carol? She should have called by now."
"Nah" I said. "She is mad cus I didnt come to babysit with her."
My other friend had a bad feeling, but I went to bed and slept like a baby.
The next morning the telephone rang and it was the same friend.
"Carol is dead."
She had refused the ride home and walked in the rain.
She had crossed the main street in the rain wearing her babyblue coat and got hit by a car. She was thrown up in the air and came down in the other lane where someone ran her over. She lay on the side of the road, unidentified, 3 blocks from her own home.
In the hospital morgue, they found a spelling list in her coat pocket. The coroner then called all the English Teacher Head of Departments in the district and at 3 in the morning our English teacher put a name to the cold lonely body on the slab.
It took me alot of years to shed the shame. I believe Carol has forgiven me.
I have almost forgiven myself. These days when someone asks me for a promise I am very careful what I agree to.
Carol Maureen Barker: there is not one single November 30th that I do not stop to remember you. My first and best friend.
The best way to keep one's word is not to give it.