Devaro was the only name anyone ever called her. Rosy didn’t go over well. Rosemond—what were her parents thinking, really?
Devaro was not a remarkably loud person. She wasn’t ugly or anything, but while she knew everyone, nobody really noticed her. They were friendly with her, sure, but never really noticed her. She had friends, wasn’t the leader, wasn’t the one everyone forgot about. She wasn’t a punk or a Goth, didn’t do drugs, was the designated driver at parties.
She had normal colored hair—the sort which hasn’t got enough brown for brunette, isn’t pale enough to be blond. She had these dark striking brown eyes, which seemed to stare straight into your soul. That was the most abnormal thing about her, those eyes. Also the way she dressed.
She wore skirts almost every day, long and dropping below her knees. They were mostly attached to vintage dresses. She wore a leather jacket whenever it got cold, and beat up tennis shoes nearly every day of the year. Her hair was always in a bun stabbed through with hair sticks. Her nose was liberally splattered with freckles, but she never covered them with makeup or wore makeup at all. Her ears were pierced, but she seemed to forget and never changed her earrings more than once a month.
But I still liked her. We came from entirely different circles, but when most of my closest mates were sick or not there, I’d sit down at an empty table and five minutes later she’d sit down beside me, and open a lunch box. Her lunches were artistic. Her sandwiches were always whole wheat, never any cheese, but tomatoes and lettuce occasionally made an appearance with the day’s meat. She brought plenty of food, and would feed me whenever we sat together, whether I had lunch with me or I’d forgotten. She would bring turnovers and yummy fruit, and homemade candies and simply marvelous cookies she’d made herself.
I’d talk my mouth off and she’d listen. She was a good listener.
When I’d talked myself out, whined about parents and friends and nonsense, she’d talk to me in that lovely, soft voice she had. She’d definitely be an alto, if anything; her voice was low and husky and musical, and I liked to listen to it.
She’d talk about this sunset she’d seen, about other existential stuff. She almost never talked about home life other than to mention one of seven siblings. She loved traveling, that I learned.
I invited her to come hiking Europe with my family one summer. She loved it. My parents liked her far better than my crew.
But we never talked about her life. So I hardly knew what to think when, first month of senior year, the teacher announced that Devaro’s dad, who’d been in the military, had died that morning of a stroke.
Devaro called me that evening—when I gave her my number, I have no idea—and all I heard was this ghastly sobbing gasping sound. I knew who it was without asking.
“The weeping willow by the stream. Meet me there, okay?” I asked.
“Yeah,” She managed.
She was staring out over the water when I got there. She stared up at me, and suddenly flung herself into my arms. She was so fragile and I’d never even known it. I didn’t say anything. I just held her, and it seemed to help.
She left a few months later. Her mom wanted to move and make a fresh start. Devaro had plenty of credits to graduate, so she did. She told me she was going to college and gave me an address.
Devaro went into the army, from what I heard.
Or rather, I knew, because however bad of a correspondent I was, Devaro was fantastic. Weekly updates on existential stuff and hilarious anecdotes. Never anything about her, not really.
But one week the letters simply stopped coming. I waited a month, and a whole year, and then I checked the newspapers.
Lt. Rosemond Devaro, died in combat, valiant, honorable death, deepest condolences to the family.
The evening was so quiet, and the birds were chirping when I went out to watch the sunset.