Upon careful reflection, I’d have to say my favorite childhood possesion took place in Summervile, S.C, in 1992. I was a child then, but I remember clearly the way Mark Tupar’s face contorted as he fought with vigor against his inner demons.
He’d been such a cool kid when I first met him, smart, witty, and adored by my family as well as his. We always hung out in the early mornings, when the tadpoles seemed caught off-guard by our attempt at their capture. We’d perch haphazardly on the rocks bordering the creek and using our fish nets, scoop through the steady flow of green water, hoping for crawfish but happy with the tadpoles. It was there that Mark and I shared our great ambitions for the future and promised to be there for each other as I became a prima ballerina and he became a rocket scientist. We did this every day for a whole summer before IT happened.
One day we were fishing, the next, Mark’s mom said he wasn’t feeling well. Although it was summer, I understood that sometimes allergies could wipe you out and that even craw-fishing exuded too much energy. So I went without him. I even caught a crawfish! I decided to keep it in a can to show Mark when he felt better, that way he couldn’t say I was lying about having caught one.
About a week went by with no sign or word from Mark and I became worried that maybe he didn’t want to hang out with me anymore. After all, he could only be sick for so long right? So after deliberating for a day or so, I had my plan. I would wait til Mark’s mom went to the store as she usually did and then I would sneak in through the normally unlocked garage entrance.
Ten o’clock rolled around and like clock-work, Mrs. Tupar pulled away in her Silver Toyota and headed towards town. Wanting to waste no time, I ran to the door and let myself in. The house was silent. There was no t.v lending it’s cheerful noise to the bleak atmosphere, no radio playing popular dance songs, no sounds period. I figured he must’ve been sleeping. Still, I had to see him, had to ask if we were still friends.
The stairs creaked painfully as I tiptoed up them to the second story landing. “Mark?” I nearly whispered. There was no answer. So I battled my rising panic and proceeded towards his bedroom door. It was open about half an inch and I tried to peer in before giving up and opening the door. That sight will stay with me until the day I die, and even then I’ll take it with me. There was Mark, sitting in the corner, legs crossed, rocking back and forth whispering to himself. I thought he might be trying to scare me but I had too much pride to admit that it was working. I would not be the scared-little girl he wanted to make me into. “Mark?” I called again. No response. “Mark!” I called, this time letting my fear translate into anger in my voice. “Where’ve you been? Why haven’t you gone fishing with me?” It was then he stopped rocking.
Softly, he called my name, as if testing the way it rolled from his lips. “It’s me Mark, I’m here.” I skipped over to his side and knelt, waiting for him to turn. He began to shake his head back and forth and muttering what sounded like “not her,” over and over. “Mark?” I whined. I just wanted my friend to acknowledge me, to tell me that everything was still ok and our plans were still on.
“I did a bad thing,” he admitted softly.
“What? What did you do Mark? Whatever it is, I’m sure it was an accident.” I assured him.
He paused for a moment and I was certain he wouldn’t go on. “My dad…the doctor…I…they’re…dead…and I did it.”
For a moment, my heart stuck in my throat. I swallowed, forcing it down, and stared at him. His normally healthy, tanned cheeks looked hollow and drawn. His eyes, usually filled with a mischevious light, were haunted and vacant looking. Even his body looked drained of life, and his hands…they were covered with dirt. -Or something darker than even dirt. “I’m sure,” I swallowed, “that it was an accident Mark.” I stood up.
“Not an accident,” he whispered again.
I backed up a few steps until I hit the dresser by the door and then I turned and ran back home, swearing to myself that I would never forget Mark the way he’d been down at the river; this shell of Mark I wouldn’t hold against him.
Two and a half days later Mark was arrested from his house. The papers said he murdered both his dad and doctor Miller. His mom said it was like he was “a man possesed” and she didn’t know what came over him. Mark and I never talked again after that day, and when I turned fourteen my family and I relocated to California to “rid ourselves of the past”. I know my parents hope that by moving I’ll forget Mark and the things he did. But I never stopped seeing his face. I never stopped seeing the blood. I never forgot Mark…or the promises we made.