Chuck has us writing about song lyrics. I love Simple Minds 'Don't you forget about me'. They weren't going to record it until they were asked to do it for the movie 'The Breakfast Club'... so I have delved into that movie as well - just for the fun of it - but 20 years later.
It was raining when John’s service started.
We put up our umbrellas and I just didn’t know what to do as Dad put his arm around me and I ... well, I fell apart.
I never told my parents where my diamond ear-ring disappeared to; never told them I had given it to him that Saturday afternoon as the sun went down and Dad waited in the BMW for me to finish talking him after that detention which ... yeah, that one which changed my life.
When I met John Bender, he was just an asshole I never liked from day one of Shermer High School. Our school isn’t there anymore – I don’t know what is – but it’s not there anymore. John and I never lost contact; actually all five of use kept in contact after that day, we stayed friends in one way or another.
I remember when John and I began to date, he had broken off all the other relationships he had going with the other girls around the school. Even though we had talked during that time in the massive library, about how he had so many girlfriends and I had so much make-up and neither of us liked ‘throwing anything out’... in truth, we were just teenagers not knowing what we wanted. But in truth, we kinda admired each other and were scared of each other; and what would happen if the Prom Queen and the Rebel hit it off.
And we did.
And nobody expected us to last as long as we did.
Dad changed John’s life the moment they met. My Dad could see the pain he was in and offered him a job right out of high school and took him under his wing. I’m so proud my Dad did that, instead of pushing my John away and pulling us apart. Mom didn’t see John that way. She saw some long-haired freak who was trying to take her baby girl away; but Dad tried to talk to Mom without success.
While all of this was going on, John and I became closer over a year or so and he asked me to marry him.
I loved him so much.
Dad gave his blessing.
His family were assholes about it all.
John turned his back on them.
So, we eloped to keep the peace.
John worked alongside my Dad for a few years while I studied at college – this was the plan for us; and we understood that we had to work hard for what we wanted in our life.
We never went out.
We drove Dad’s old BMW.
I learned to cook every meal (and burned my first few).
And we found starting at the bottom of the food chain a part of how my Mom and Dad experienced life.
Then, it happened for us.
John got a promotion, just as I graduated from college with a business degree and was offered a job at Dad’s company. Three great things which brought us great joy and two of them brought us money as well. And Dad was there to advise us about putting the money away for a ‘rainy day’. And we followed what Dad said to do: superannuation, saving for a house, buying only what we needed.
Then, one of John’s friends got out of prison.
I arrived home one day to find my husband sitting at the kitchen table with two people I’d never seen before standing around him, “Who are you?”
John looked up and I knew immediately that his past had caught up with him as tears filled his eyes, “Honey...”
“Honey. You’re Honey?” one of the very well-built men walked to me, “Is that your name?”
“No. I’m his wife.” I said, “John, what’s going on here?”
“We went to high school with John-boy... and just got out last week.” The one standing near me said, “Wanted to find him and say hi... but found out he’s all suited up and works for your Daddy-dearest.”
“It’s not like his family was doing him any favours.”
He raised a hand high.
I flinched as John screamed from his seat, “No! Leave Claire alone!”
“Claire... the Prom Queen?” he lowered his hand slowly.
I didn’t know what to say, “What do you want?”
The one standing over John grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, dragging him towards me, “We wanna catch up with John-boy... so say your goodnights and farewells for now.”
“I’ll be back.” He touched my cheek gently, leaned down and... the kiss he gave me felt as though he wasn’t coming home. It had such longing, such love and – and he pulled away – his cheeks were wet, “Don’t you forget about me.”
The two dragged John out the door and into the night.
I called the police.
John never came back home – well, not alive.
The rain became heavier as his casket was lowered into the ground and Dad held me tight against his chest, letting me cry.
Alison, Andrew and Brian had shown up at the service, to stand by my side. We all knew John well; and how much he had changed. As the hole was filled in and the turf was placed over the top, I looked at the headstone: John Edward Bender, 16th, May 1968 – 23rd, February, 1996, Don’t You Forget About Me.
And believe me I won’t – I can’t.
Not with John’s child on the way.