Essay: Barb by Melissa Ballard

Last winter I took an on-line writing course sponsored by the magazine Creative Non-fiction and “met” the author of this piece, Melissa Ballard. It speaks of a regret I think many of us experience in life and it is, of course, beautifully written.


I scanned the black and white senior pictures on the “In Memorium” page of my high school reunion website.  I clicked on one, moved closer to the screen, and peered at it over the top of my glasses.  I studied her solid smile, the trim glasses, and her short hair with its ghost imprints from the pink plastic rollers she’d probably slept on the night before.


 “How many?” Barb asked.   It was 1969, a Sunday afternoon in late September.  As usual, we sat at the counter at Webb Pharmacy, hunched over our soft drinks.

“How many what?  Is this some kind of riddle?”

“How many books that weren’t assigned did you read this month?”

Barb knew I spent hours in my bedroom, with the door shut, reading.  I never did very well with the texts or even the novels we had to read for school, but I couldn’t…

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