A simple premise; a bold promise
To present one story per day, every day—providing exceptional authors with exposure and avid readers with first-rate fiction.

Today's Story by Christopher Cervelloni

I pretended to laugh even though I don’t think it’s funny to hit girls.

Addison’s Eigth Grade Personal Narrative

In this essay I’m going to tell you about Bill Gunnison and how I fell out of love with him. Before I can tell you about why I don’t like him, I have to tell you about who Bill Gunnison is and how I fell in love with him. (Note to Mrs. Truss – I remember this next part from the beginning of the year) I will start with character introduction and then go to rising action and then finally a climax and conclusion. I hope you enjoy my essay.

Bill Gunnison is a ninth grader (Note to Mrs. Truss – you may know him because he was here last year and you may have had him in class. Do you remember him?). He is exactly five-feet and eleven inches tall. Which is exactly six inches taller than me. He is white and has short blonde hair. He has brown eyes. He has a deep voice that I could listen to all day. He has a nose that juts out and his eyes are pinched in. Other girls say he’s ugly but I didn’t see the ugly until after I fell out of love with him. At the time I thought he was cute. And he’s really strong. He’s a pitcher on the freshman baseball team. I saw him play a few times. My mom lets me stay late after school with Sally, she’s my best friend, to watch games. My friend Amanda used to come along too. Amanda lives down the street from me, but Sally’s mom wouldn’t give her a ride home because she’s black. Amanda doesn’t come with us anymore because she has to ride the bus home. At the first game I went to, Bill pitched five innings and struck out six batters. They still lost the game. Oh well.

I met Bill Gunnison on October 31, 1968 at the Halloween Sock Hop at the youth center at my church. He’s not that good of a dancer like some of the black boys, but it was fun anyway. He was at the water fountain when I was there too. I was taking a drink of water and turned around and, bump, ran right into him. He laughed because I fell over. I wouldn’t have fallen if I wasn’t wearing just socks. The floor was slippery. He helped me up. He asked if I needed another drink of water and let me take another sip from the fountain before he took his drink. He was super-nice to me.

He came up to me at the last slow dance and asked if he could dance with me. He asked me in front of all my friends and he said he felt bad for knocking me over earlier, so I said yes. He held me closer than the other boys did. I knew it was because he liked me, but Sally said that it was just because that’s the way all high schoolers slow-danced. Even if that’s the case, I knew he liked me back. And that made me like him even more. It’s easy to like someone that likes you back. Last year I had a crush on Daniel Dunn, he was mean to me and I got over him like that (*snap*). I don’t like Daniel anymore.

From the Sock Hop until I fell out of love with him, Bill said hello to me in the hallways every time we passed, which wasn’t often since most high school classes are on the second floor. He would wave to me during the warm-up part of the baseball games I went to. There were rumors that he was going to ask me to the End of the Year Formal, but that stopped after I told Sally to tell him that I didn’t like him any more. But could you imagine? An eighth grader at a high school formal? I would be the youngest girl there! Everyone there would know that I must be super-popular in order for a freshman to take me to the dance with him. But I fell out of love with Bill before that happened, so I guess I’ll just have to wait until I’m in high school to go to a formal.

I fell out of love with him on Saturday, April 5, 1969. I remember the date exactly because I was really hurt that I fell out of love with him. My friends had a hard time understanding why I was so upset with the whole thing since I was the one to break up with him. But I think that no matter who breaks up with who, even if they both claim it was mutual, it still hurts. My friend Sally said when she broke up with Sean Faulkner she didn’t feel bad about it at all. She even bragged a little that Sean cried about being broken up with. But when I fell out of love with Bill and had Sally tell him, I felt really bad.

On the Saturday I fell out of love with him, Bill was working at Nelson’s Restaurant. My parents do not like going there because my dad says their hamburgers are no good. My mother does not like their salads either, so my family does not go there much even though my brother and I love their food. The only times we go there is if we go out just for desert. They have the best banana splits in town and they have lots of other good ice cream flavors too. Bill works there, and even better, he works at the soda fountain. Sally and I rode our bikes there because it was one of the first spring days warm enough to ride bikes. We were sitting at the counter and Bill was talking to us. Sally wanted to share a banana split, but I didn’t want one, so she was trying to think of something else that we would both like and it was taking us awhile. Bill said that whatever we wanted would be free. I know that if it was just Sally, she would have to pay.

That was the day of some parade. There were a whole bunch of blacks walking in the street. I think it had something to do with Martin Luther King or something because for whatever reason there were pictures of him being held up by marchers. They were all walking really slow and looking really sad. Nelson’s big window faces right out into the street, but our backs were turned because when you’re sitting at the counter you face the inside. Bill looked over our shoulders and he made a mean face. He muttered something that I don’t remember, but I do remember that it sounded mean. Sally nodded and agreed. I did too only because I did not want them to think I did not know what they were talking about.

I remember there being a lot of blacks outside. It seemed like they kept on walking past the store and kept coming, almost like they were just walking around the block there were so many. Bill said some words I do not know, but judging from context clues (Note to Mrs. Truss: remember teaching us context clues? I still remember what they are) I could tell that he did not like the blacks. I know a lot of other people don’t like blacks. My dad complains any time they do something and he does not like it when I go to play with Amanda. I hear other people say stuff too, so it was not that big of a deal when Bill left the store to throw tomatoes at them. Or at least I did not think it would be such a big deal.

Bill went into the back room and came back with some old tomatoes in a bag. He stood by the front door and shouted some more. He said things like “Go home, (bad word)” and “I’m glad that (bad word) died” (Note to Mrs. Truss: I’m sorry to use bad words, but you said we were to tell the true story as we remember it and I remember that he used bad words. Please do not take off points for my using bad words). Bill’s a good thrower since he plays baseball. He hit a couple of blacks. But the weird thing was that they didn’t do anything. I saw him hit a guy right in the shoulder, and the guy was wearing a nice Sunday suit, and the guy just brushed off the tomato and kept walking. I wasn’t paying too much attention to the outside because Sally and I had our free ice cream. And to me, that free ice cream was a sign that Bill liked me. I was thinking about going to the dance with him and what I would wear to the dance. I imagined how all the high schoolers would think I was super-popular because I was going with Bill Gunnison. That all changed with the last tomato.

I finished my ice cream and went outside to stand by Bill, thinking he was done throwing the tomatoes. Right as I got to him, I saw him take the last tomato and throw it at the parade. He threw it really hard and it hit a young black girl right in the side of the head. She fell over. Her father or maybe it was her uncle I don’t know, bent down to help her up. Bill started laughing. He looked at me and asked if I saw the way that girl fell over and wasn’t it funny? I pretended to laugh even though I don’t think it’s funny to hit girls. I wanted to yell at him for hurting a girl. I could not believe someone so nice to me could be so mean to other girls. Why was he nice to me and Sally but not to other girls? And what would he do to me if he stopped liking me? Would he throw tomatoes at me if we had a fight?

The girl stood right back up next to her father or uncle. She wiped tears and tomato from her eyes, brushed off her dress and kept walking with her shoulders up. It was weird to see how proud she was, like she was happy that she was hit by the tomato. Last year, when I was in seventh grade, I spilled my milk on my lap during lunch. It fell right into my lap and it looked like I peed my pants. I was so embarrassed that I ran out of the cafeteria crying and did not come out from the bathroom for an hour, when my pants and tears had dried.

I went back inside and told Sally that I did not love Bill anymore. When she asked me why not, I told her it was because he laughed after he hit a girl with a tomato. Even if he was nice to me and gave me free ice cream and would have taken me to a formal dance, I do not think hitting girls with tomatoes is funny. The end.


Christopher Cervelloni graduated from Butler University in ’06 with a bachelors in creative writing. In the past year he has published; “Leaving Home” in Foliate Oak, “The First Stone” in CC&D, and “Laughing at Jane Ellen’s Pillows” and “Derek Kelsie Receives Bad News” in Cynic Magazine. He teaches writing in Ft. Collins, CO. 


To comment on this story, visit Fiction365’s Facebook page.