Prelude: Here is another milestone, another critically important character. With most of the events and characters that I’ve written about, I am able to sustain a relatively clinical and analytic stance. With the Carpenter, even after nearly twenty years, I cannot. I find the words about him in a quiet well of memory that settles and sways as deep in my belly as Michael does.
Michael wrapped himself around me, and we floated this way through middle school and raging hormones. In one of only two public all girls’ high schools in the country, I was reunited with the twins and other girls from my Mt Airy school. They were curvier, more confident than I remembered, and I was a faint memory to them.
I met Carpenter because a few of us sophomores were allowed to take pre-calculus with the juniors. In the first week, he tried to teach us about limits. See this rabbit? He drew it crouched in profile on the far left-hand border of the blackboard. It badly wants to eat the carrot (dangling life-sized on the other end). But the rabbit has rules. It can only jump half the distance to the carrot each step. So it never actually reaches the carrot. But the distance there is approximated and the rabbit can get so close that it’s practically as good as being at the carrot. Rabbit could just crane his neck and gobble the whole thing, I thought, my eyes widening in alarm.
In that hour, Michael fled. My head filled with the roar of the Carpenter’s voice, a rattle and a booming that made me stretch arms out to my walls to still the vibrations. Continue reading