My novella, Meeting Margo, was published in a Kindle edition this past spring.
Meeting Margo is the ultimate prequel to my novels You Don’t Think She Is and Meeting Dennis Wilson: the story of how seven-year-old Brian Pressley met his best friend, seven-year-old Canadian Margo LeDoux, on the first day of second grade. (I say “ultimate” but who knows? I may well go back and mine the parents’ stories eventually. Never say never.)
Get started on reading Meeting Margo!
This short work doesn’t have chapter breaks per se, but here’s the first section of the book: the moment when Brian walks into his second grade classroom on the first day of school and sees this GIRL sitting in the desk directly across from his.
This vignette was told in slightly different form in You Don’t Think She Is (written by Brian as an essay for his high school creative writing class). Here, it’s presented as I originally wrote it several years ago, in Brian’s voice looking back as a 4-something adult.
For more information on Meeting Margo and to order a copy of the e-book, scroll to the bottom of this post or click here.
I love Margo LeDoux. I always have and I always will. I loved her, really, from the moment I set eyes on her: Tuesday morning, August 28, 1967, in Miss Peterson’s second grade class, General John F. Reynolds Elementary School, Quaker Valley, PA.
Miss Peterson sat us all down in her horseshoe-shaped desk arrangement, and as she read the roll, I could feel someone watching me… and I felt like I knew who it was –who she was– but every time I looked at her, she looked away: down at her desktop, or up at Miss Peterson, or beyond her at the blackboard. She was cute: full pink lips and high cheekbones that seemed to suggest a perpetual smile; a round nose; a shimmering sheet of straight, honey-blonde hair that fell over her shoulders and onto her chest; and sparkling turquoise eyes that didn’t tell me she was up to something as much as they seemed to say that she knew what was going on.
MARGUERITE LE DOUX, the pink-for-girls-construction-paper nameplate on her desktop read.
I didn’t recognize the name, but I could’ve sworn I knew her from someplace. She looked familiar, and as I tried to remember where I’d met her before (The pool? Church? Day camp? The playground?) our eyes finally met, and in that instant of meeting, I felt a rush of familiarity and knowing from the top of my head in a jolt down to the center of my chest. I never felt anything like it before, and I haven’t felt anything that strong, certain or pure since.
I had to look down, and so did she, both of us smiling.
In that instant, that flash, I felt not only like I knew her from someplace else, but like we’d been best friends before and we’d agreed to meet up again someday, some time, but we’d forgotten about it, and now, in those two desks in that second grade classroom, there we were.
There she was.
MARGUERITE LE DOUX.
Wonder how you pronounce that? I thought.
La-DOWX? LEE-dowx? la-DUKES?–
“–Now, Marguerite LeDoux,” Miss Peterson said, pronouncing it leh-DOO, and Marguerite straightened in her seat and faced front. “It says here you’re new to our school. Where did you go last year, Marguerite?”
“Margo,” she sighed.
Miss Peterson didn’t get it. She blinked twice behind her Ben Franklin glasses. “Margo,” she repeated. “Now, where is that, dear? Western Pennsylvania?”
“No, that’s my name,” Margo giggled. “Margo,” and as a few kids giggled and Miss Peterson “Ohhhhh”d, Margo’s eyes met mine again, and instead of looking away when I felt that rush, I smiled at her, and she smiled right back… and then we both had to look down.
“Margo,” Miss Peterson repeated as she wrote Margo’s Preferred Nickname in her rollbook and Margo faced front again. “I’m sorry. Well, now, where did you go to school last year, Margo?”
“Ottawa,” Margo said. “It’s in Canada.”
“Canada,” Miss Peterson repeated. “Parlais-vous Francais?”
“Avez-vous parlé français à votre école?”
“Tell everyone what we said, Margo.”
Margo’s voice got quiet and shy, and even though she was looking down, I felt like she was talking right to me.
“You asked me if I speak French, and I said ‘Yes, ma’am,’ and then you asked me if they speak French in my old school, and I said ‘Sometimes.’”
“Canada is bilingual, children,” Miss Peterson said, and she looked right at me for a second. “That means they speak two languages.” She looked back at Margo. “Do both your parents speak French, Margo?”
“Well… Mom does. Dad tries. I translate.” Margo caught my eye again, and as she quickly looked back up at our teacher, she was smiling again, and so was I.
“You translate,” Miss Peterson said. “Wow. How lucky for them.”
“Yeah, sometimes,” Margo said.
Miss Peterson laughed. “Sometimes,” she repeated. “Well, welcome to our country and our school, Margo.”
Yes! Welcome, Margo!
10:15 ticked around –recess!– and we all lined up at the door, a‑to‑z, paired boy-girl, boy-girl. There must have been more girls than boys in the front part of the alphabet, though, because guess who I was paired up with? There she stood next to me, in her red gingham dress and her matching red Chuck Taylors (how was it that girls’ clothes always coordinated?), leaning against a desk, swinging her leg, looking down…
…and when we were finally all lined up and quiet, Miss Peterson said, “All right, class… let’s go,” and of course, I took Margo’s hand, like we always did when we went out of the classroom in line…
…except as soon as I gripped Margo’s fingers, she squeezed my hand and leaned over and kissed me lightly on the cheek –“Awwww… mon amour!” she sighed…
…but then, as she pulled back and realized what was going on –all of our classmates were also holding hands– she looked down, shy, and as I caught her out of the corner of my eye, I could see her face was bright red. “Pardon,” she whispered, but like it was French –“Parr-DOHN”– and she squeezed my hand. I squeezed hers back and we stepped out of the room.
Part of me wanted to ask Margo what she said and why she kissed me, but as we walked down the hall and I felt her warm fingers intertwined with mine, another part of me already knew the answer, and, really, I liked it.
As Margo and I burst through the doorway of the school and ran across the macadam playground over to the slide– still holding hands– I felt like we were best friends already.
And while those two words —best friends– pretty much defined Margo’s and my relationship for the next thirty years, neither of us ever forgot that before we even spoke a word to each other, I held Margo LeDoux’s hand and she kissed me.
About Meeting Margo…
A prequel to my coming-of-age novels You Don’t Think She Is and Meeting Dennis Wilson, Meeting Margo tells the story of how seven-year-old Brian Pressley met and became best friends with Quebecoise tomboy Margo LeDoux.