I was thinking today of jelly beans, of a certain creek a few streets from where I grew up. I was thinking of Reagan and how he liked jelly beans, how I thought it mandatory for a president to endorse a food group. Carter with his peanuts and Reagan with jelly beans, each of those an actual food group to me at 10, how I knew then that I could never be president because I did not have a signature food much less a group or a political party. I'm guessing I was 10, because it was a year of rainbows and alligator shoelaces, the year of jelly beans. For my birthday my mom had bought necklaces as party favors, gold chains with a row of plastic jelly beans that hung down, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, in a rainbow like that. I don't remember anything about the party or what I got, just those cheap plastic jelly bean necklaces and how much I loved mine, how the jelly beans felt in my mouth when I pulled the necklace into my lips, the dull tink of plastic and teeth. How one day walking home from somewhere I stopped at the chainlink fence over the creek to see how far the water had risen and when I got home it was gone.Later, or maybe it was before, a neighbor said that her brother had found a dead teenage girl in that creek. She had slit her wrists, and though I did not see the girl's body I saw slick leaves stuck to white skin. The romance of something horrible that was far enough away that I only thought of my necklace whenever I passed the creek, how for years I peered over the railing to see if I could spot the rainbow I had lost.
Incidentally, in high school I kissed a boy who ate Very Cherry Jelly Bellies and then blew them out his nose on demand. He had pretty green eyes despite his soft palate being too closely connected, so once after he gave me a ride home we kissed not because we liked each other because we didn't, but because we were two teenagers in a car and I was getting out.
I wish I still had that rainbow jelly bean necklace, and somewhere somebody wishes that dead teenage girl were still alive.