I hadn’t seen Jeneva Beauman since high school. We took most classes together and we’d been on the swim team together. We were always hanging out at her house or mine. The minute I grew breasts something changed. She had them too and hers were larger than mine. I was tall and thin. She was short and stout. All the guys at school noticed her over me. Same on the swim team. It wasn’t like that with her father. He noticed me over her.
It was subtle at first those quick taps or touches that the human mind brushes off as accidental. Later he became more assertive putting his hands where they didn’t belong and leaving them there. At first, I was too afraid to say anything at first to anyone. Trusting my best friend over all, I finally did tell Jeneva one day at the pool. She didn’t say anything just stared at me and then she hit the pool diving into the deep end just sitting at the bottom. The whole team often had contests to see who could stay down the longest. We’d sometimes lap swim that way too to see who could swim the farthest down the pool without breathing. Jeneva went into shallow water blackout and lost consciousness. The lifeguard pulled her out, gave her CPR and then an ambulance came.
She didn’t return to the swim team. We were seniors in high school and went our separate ways after that. She accused me of lying about her dad. I had already told my parents who forbade me from seeing her anyway after they found out what happened.
I never understood her reaction. We told each other everything about boys and boys we liked. I was naïve. I wasn’t even sure what was happening the first time he made a move. Later when I looked back, later when I’d learned more I realized that her reaction wasn’t so much that she was upset that I had told her what he had done to me. It was more because she was jealous because before that he had been doing it to her.
It was maybe something about being indoctrinated in the south growing up with that ever polite smile and nod and when necessary accompanied by a homemade pie or fresh cooked pot of soup that kept us both civil and quiet about the past on this first meeting in fifteen years. Jeneva seemed the same but she had extra pounds, extra lines around the eyes and mouth. Her hair was long and dyed jet black. I had lines, too and shorter hair about the same color less black.
We met in the doghouse halfway up the mountain. The ski lifts weren’t running. Sunset was almost full on and the snow maintenance supervisor set about giving us our instructions. Neither one of us had told anyone else we already knew each other. We were the only two women on the snowcat snowmaking team at the ski resort.
It’s a funny thing when you start digging stuff up the past starts coming up too and that’s how I’d come across Jeneva, contacted her and gotten the job. I had no experience farming snow except for a weekend crash course. While in college, I had worked winters at the ski resorts in North Carolina. I could ski okay. Ice skate okay.
I didn’t have to ski or skate for this job. Just work at night. Most of the other groomers at the ski resort were single. I was newly single. Jeneva had never been married. We were trained to run snowplows, snowcats, snowmobiles, generators, compressors, snow shovels and snowmaking fan guns. Sometimes if we were pulled off nights to work days we had to clear sidewalks, patch the slopes, and maintain or direct traffic in and out of the parking lots.
My normal shift was midnight to 9 or 10 am. Jeneva worked the same shift.
L.B. Sedlacek has had poetry and fiction appear in different journals and zines. Her first short story collection came out on Leap Day 2020 entitled Four Thieves of Vinegar published by Alien Buddha Press. Her latest poetry books are The Poet Next Door (Cyberwit), The Adventures of Stick People on Cars (Alien Buddha Press), The Architect of French Fries (Presa Press) and Words and Bones (Finishing Line Press). She is a former Poetry Editor for ESC! Magazine and co-hosted the podcast “Coffee House to Go.” LB also enjoys swimming, reading, and playing ukulele. She recommends the Caldwell Humane Society.