The Rockport Miracles Part 2 Episode 1: "Wren Mathews" Fiction by Scott MacGregor
The Rockport Miracles
Part 2 Episode 1: A Girl Named Wren Mathews
Wren Mathews and I were toddlers in 1954 when the “Rags to Ruins” storm, (so named after Rags Johnson’s curse upon Rockport), had destroyed half the city. Meteorologists called it a “Hundred Years Storm.” Ten years later, after another cyclone rocked the town, the weather guys recalibrated their whirligigs and called it a “Ten Years Storm.” The Flying Owego Brothers (as they were now called) were ordered by city leaders to mount their heating and cooling company mascot on its side like a recumbent Buddha after “Donald Duct’s” gigantic nose was severed by lightning and flew through the roof of the Kingdom Hall.
It seems a thousand years have passed since I last saw her, but Wren Mathews is an undying memory. The first time I spotted her was in high school biology class, two frog dissection tables to my left. She was new to Rockport High having transferred from a Catholic Girls Academy known as St. Christina the Astonishing. There had been whispers about her family being involved in a scandal but that was okay with me. It just made her more intriguing. I may have been a teenager of the male idiot persuasion, but the hamster wheels of my mind were twirling fast enough to recognize Wren's unique qualities. It didn’t hurt my chances that I was a confirmed Catholic, either. Who else could better protect her from the Protestant hoards than me?
As mentioned earlier, I was an idiot, especially when it came to matters of love. I was very insecure and too terrified to ask Wren out. Instead, I chose covert means of garnering her attention. Flap jawed girlfriends were the school internet of their day and I fed them a steady stream of flattering comments about Wren. I wrote cryptic poetry onto sidewalks along her walking routes. I even scribbled a pre-dissection missive onto the belly of her frog in biology. Wren ignored it all and I was beyond pathetic.
Fast forwarding to a snowy day in January 1970, it was the first day back to school after Christmas vacation. I saw Wren walking home alone and finally conjured up the courage to introduce myself. She said she’d “heard of me” and in her polite way she told me to take a hike. Going for broke, I remembered something I learned in an Archie comic book and challenged her to close her eyes. If I could successfully guide her through the upcoming minefield of broken, icy sidewalks without a trip or stumble, could I ask her out? To my everlasting relief she immediately warmed up and said “Game on!” She proceeded to close her eyes, she held my hand for the first time, and I immediately forgot what I was doing. Then she tripped, fell into a snow bank, and was cruelly drenched by a slush blob hurled from the wheels of a passing car.
Cool as a cucumber, she wiped and swiped the muddy slush from her entire self, she waved off my profuse apologies like rain from a windshield, and then she slanged me with words of unambiguous nature and told me to get the hell away from her. Timing not being my strong suit, I asked if I could take her to the big City Bonfire that evening? She blurted out something that sounded French or Italian. Words that had spit on them. It was definitely not a “yes.” So, I headed back home feeling awkward and wondering once again how long it would be before the stupid years are over. Later, I called my pal Freddie and we conspired to get ourselves some beer for the big bonfire taking place at Rockport Park that evening. Maybe, just maybe, Wren Mathews would be there?