When Molly let me be her friend, I felt
honored. I never had a lot of friends,
just buddies at work, being a fat guy
who kept to myself, but Molly was special.
I knew it was mainly that she didn’t
have boyfriends, but she let me take her
to concerts and plays. I could see her relax
when the lights were down and no one stared.
She was born with a condition affecting her head.
Not her mind, but the way she looked. I paid
for the best doctors in Boston. The bones
were malformed so her nose was crooked;
her teeth were very bad and there wasn’t much
of a jaw. Even her eyes were out of kilter.
None of this bothered me—I knew the person
underneath—but it bothered Molly.
I made good money, my kind of science
in demand for the missiles race at the time,
so I had savings. It took four years—
operations, bone grafts, skin grafts, jaw
reconstruction, orthodontia the whole time.
She couldn’t keep a job, but it was fine with me
to pick up her expenses. Then the years
were over, and Molly was beautiful.
She started seeing a crowd I didn’t like
but every week I took her to dinner, proud
of the way she looked and how happy she was,
no longer insecure. I was glad for her when she married
and moved away, though she forgot to leave me
her address. I knew I was her past, and the past
was over. The good that I did for her
would always be mine to remember.