We used to have to do these Sword Drills in Bible school growing up. They made us do them when we were kids and all the way up through Junior High. Sword drills is a type of game where everybody has a Bible and the teacher or leader shouts out a verse reference – Matthew 5:3-5, GO – and then everyone would try to find the verse, and the first person who does raises their Bible up in the air like a sword and starts reading it real loud. It was a stupid game but you had to play or else they’d single you out and start picking on you in front of everybody. But Irene had this great way to get back at them. She would just flip to any random page and then hold her Bible up like a sword and just start reading any old verse. After a while the teachers just let her go and then when she was finished would say, Ok, now who has the correct verse? But sometimes, when she wanted to, Irene would surprise everyone and flip to the right verse and hold her Bible up like a sword and shout it out real loud to everyone without even looking at the page, and then she’d bring her Bible down through the air real hard and make a kind of two-or-three-move Samurai slice.
I really liked Irene. She was one of only two people that I ever let call me Matty. We used to go to movies a lot and play pool and eat Chinese food. Irene qualified for the X-games as a roller blader when she was like twelve or thirteen. She was really really good, but her dad made her stop skating just because he could. Once, Irene and I were driving back from somewhere in her dad’s minivan and right as we got off the turnpike, the car just stopped moving. It died right there in the middle of the road and we didn’t know what happened. Then Irene laughed and said, “I think we’re out of gas.” So we got out and pushed the van up the road like a tenth of a mile to a gas station and I filled up the tank for her because she was out of money and I didn’t want her to have to call her dad.
Irene got pregnant at the end of High School and had a baby boy. Then she moved to North Carolina and we lost touch and I don’t know what ever became of her.
Matthew Savoca lives in New York and Pennsylvania where he works as a carpenter. He wrote the novel I Don’t Know I Said, which was released this year. His book of stories Why I Hate Nature will be published in 2014.