PRISM 52.3: The Non-Fiction Contest Issue launches on April 22nd. Here’s a sneak peak of the winning entry, “Reunion” by Re’Lynn Hansen. In “Reunion,” Hansen uses the annual class reunions of her all-girls Catholic high school as a jumping off point to explore mortality, friendship, and the nature of memory.
Make sure to pick up your own copy of PRISM 52.3 to read “Reunion” in its entirety. The issue also features new writing by Madeline Sonik, Drew Nelles, Lori McNulty, and many other fantastic writers.
I went to a Catholic all-girl high school and I’m not sure what this has meant—what it offered then in terms of a foundation for who I am now. The exigencies of religion and its doctrine were lost on me. I look to the skies at night and to the renewal of the trees in spring as my religious philosophy, and maybe the closest I’ve come to feeling connected to some larger gestalt is when I’m out walking the dog in the nearby state park, and a bend in the river that I know is coming up, comes up again—the oxbow emerging from the wetlands—and amazes me all over again, crystal waters sluicing quietly past reedy banks.
Perhaps I am different from them, my classmates, who have volunteered for Catholic Charities, prayed for me, especially since I’ve had cancer, and who make their monthly visits to the elderly nuns who once lectured us.
As a class we have stuck together more than most. It happens that we don’t have a reunion every ten years, but every year. I’m not sure what spurs this on. Perhaps there is only the circumstance of convenience, but it could be purposeful, as many classmates seek out the ritual of gathering together more than I do. Most of us still live in the city, and the president of our class had a reunion one year after high school, and then one year after that, and one year after that, and we all kept going until we were this group whose pledge it was to get together next time.
The president’s house is a large bungalow done in a Frank Lloyd Wright prairie style appropriate for Chicago. She still lives within the boundaries of the city because her husband is a fireman. There’s a sense of home when we get there because she’s had these reunions for twenty years, and we know the routine by now. There is a grand piano and an addition in the back with a kitchen island and family room. The forty of us who gather can settle in the family room, but sometimes we migrate to the living room where the piano is, and we gather round it to sing the school song.
I don’t ever remember what they remember, my friends from high school. If they are talking about a car, and they say that I was in it, I believe them. They say, remember, you were in the car. And I say I do. One friend remembers an evening when she deeply gashed her hand as she tried to retrieve a joint that fell beneath the bucket seats of her car. I was with her, and we were racing away that night, apparently, to evade her father. She had stolen his car, which I barely remember was an Impala, and he was following us, driving hers, Nancy exclaims to the classmates gathered around the kitchen island listening,meaning her mother’scar, and he was going to beat the living shit out of me when I got home, remember? she asks looking at me. I never challenge the story. There were numerous dark nights and circlings of empty city streets and meeting up with other classmates who had also borrowed, or stolen, their parents’ cars. I never ask if she was scolded or punished that evening by the father whom I vaguely remember as stern. The story always ends in triumph. We pulled over, we dimmed the lights, we lost him. I don’t remember the evening’s end any more than the beginning. We met up with McMurphy who always had the best weed, is how Nancy ends the story, and I am content to listen and to make a toast with her at the president’s house. And of course I wonder how long I can keep up, keep going back with them before nothing is the same anymore—nothing is as I remember it, but I have not reached that threshold.