So… I actually did NaPoWriMo

Hello followers!  Because I’ve been deadly quiet all month long, you’ve probably thought I wasn’t  doing NaPoWriMo.  Or thought  I was never going to write again.  Or thought I was dead.  Okay, probably none of you thought about me that much.  That said, after NaPo, I think I might have a handful of decent poetry to share with you.  If you  like them enough, maybe I’ll post more.  Enjoy!

Traumatic Stress

She closes her eyes

His hands on her again

She opens her eyes

Everyone still a predator

 

He closes his eyes

The guns sounding again

He opens his eyes

War still surrounds him

 

She closes her eyes

Her child dies again

She opens her eyes

Death still permeates

 

He closes his eyes

Blood pours out again

He opens his eyes

The wound still there

ptsd-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-dubai
Source: Google Images

 

Seven Out of One Hundred

Seven out of one hundred

Recieve a crown

Ninety three out of one hundred

Get knocked down

Seven out of one hundred

Respected for life

Ninety three out of one hundred

Only get strife

Seven out of one hundred

West and whitest

Ninety three out of one hundred

Best and brightest

Seven out of one hundred

Join the club

Ninety three out of one hundred

Ones they snub

Source: Unsplash.com

 

If You Stayed

I’ve looked at the world through this telescope, and it looks beautiful and bright.  Will it still look that way when I get there?

Yes, of course dear.  Your world will always look beautiful and bright.

I’ve gotten closer to the world now, and I can see some places that don’t glimmer.  Will I be able to make them shine again?

Yes, of course dear.  Your world will always shine.

I’ve reached the world now.  The sun was shining for a while, but now there are clouds.  Will the sun come back again?

Yes, of course dear.  Your sun will always come back.

The sun hasn’t come back at all.  Nothing shines and it’s dark and cold.  Will I ever feel warm again?

I’m sorry, dear.  But you’ll feel warm again soon enough.

The plants have all withered, leaving me hungry.  I’ve never felt so empty.  Will I ever feel full again?

I’m sorry, dear.  But you’ll feel full again in due time.

The world is ice, the world is cold, the world is storm.  I wish I withered with the plants.  Will I ever wish otherwise?

I’m sorry dear.  But please don’t go; you’ll be happy one day.

I’m sorry.  I’m sorry.  I couldn’t make it because I kept hoping and you kept promising, but none of your promises came true.  So I figured nothing ever would.

I miss you every day dear.  So does the sun, which came back.  So do the plants, which grew back.  I think you’d be happy now, if you had stayed.  If…    

Source: Unsplash.com

  

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How a Dream Dies

Let me tell you how a dream dies.

  1. You have an hour glass before your face.

You watch each grain fall into place.

You think your dream will come at a steady pace.

But darling, that’s not the case.

2. At first you don’t notice that hairline crack.

And once you do, there’s no going back.

All you can do is watch the world go black

as the fragile glass holding your dream shatters.

3. You thought your dream would slowly trickle out.

Instead it spills out in a single spout.

You grab the grains of sand to push them back,

but they fall through your fingers like bits of ash.

4. In one moment your dream is gone.  What to do?

You’ll likely laugh at it one day, pretend it didn’t matter

only to hide how much it did,

   and that your dream will always live in you,

in the form of regret.

Alive.

If you bleed when you fall, it’s just a sign of life

‘Cause we cried with our first breath, gasping for air ever since

Growing in and out of skins, just another strife

Four legs to two to three, that’s why we all wince


Sprouting wings, finding they don’t last long

Hitting hard ground, our faces in the rocks, the dirt again

Sages loosing mind, beauts loosing face, that’s our sad song

Running and running, Rover chases his rear, round and round, count to ten


Caught in the inevitable tide, bleeding against rocks

Trying to grow wings that last; that’s why we all strive

What’s urgent won’t matter, and what matters hides behind locks

Bleeding, crying, growing, flying, falling, running.  We’re alive.

unsplash.com

Graduation Day: The Blame Game

Today is Saturday, meaning it is time for me to continue this lovely story.  Well, perhaps it isn’t so lovely, but I’ve started it, so you get to hear the end anyway.  As I have it planned, this will be the second to last part.  For those who are interested here is part one, part two, part three, and part four.  (wow, this thing is getting long)  For those who are not interested I have a summary:  Graduating high school seniors Joe, Ruth, and Fred remember and grieve the loss of Annemarie, their classmate and friend who committed suicide a year ago.  This part of the story opens with their graduation party.  (I’m not sure how good this section will be, but here it goes)

Fred

For the first thirty minutes of the graduation party, we just sat there staring at each other.  No one said anything, but I felt like everyone was screaming.  Even Mr. and Mrs. Jones, the parents hosting the party for us, didn’t want to talk.  And I figured it would all just go on like that until someone was brave enough to stand up and say the truth.  So I decided that person should be me.

“Okay,” I began.  A few people gave me surprised looks.  “So, at this party, I know we were supposed to sit around and share memories from school and stuff.  And we have a lot of them.  Some of them are good, but well… we all know that we share a lot of really bad memories, too.

“And some of you are probably wondering why I pulled that crazy stunt with the valedictorian speech.  Others of you already know.  So I’m just going to tell you all why.”

Everyone stared at me like they’d never seen me in their lives.  In a way it was true.  They’d never seen me like this, anyway.  They’d never really seen me be honest and reveal the true me.

“So here’s the thing.  When I became an upper classman, suddenly everything became about getting into college.  I wanted to get into a good school, and one of the things that would help me do that was getting first in my class.  Well, I didn’t think that would be too much.  All I had to do was work a little harder right?  Yeah, well it wasn’t that easy.  Not as long as Annemarie was in the class.

“No matter how much I tried, she always beat me.  Even in math and science, which were my best subjects, and her worst.  When I thought about it, I realized it was because she was just smarter than me.  I started to feel really down about myself, because I realized it didn’t matter how hard I worked, she would always be better.  There would always be someone better.  And I thought that being the best would make me some one, so that really bothered me.

“Annmarie and I had been friends for years, but I started to really resent her.  Most of you probably remember how I acted, and I’m not proud of it.  I put her down every chance I got, stopped including her in anything I did, and was pretty much just an enormous jerk.  Man, I don’t deserve half the credit any of you give me.

I started to get a little choked up.  Even though most of my friends knew this, it hurt to admit it.  It hurt to destroy the image of Fred, the gallant, smart, easy-going guy that everyone liked.  I depended on that image, but now I had to destroy it.  I owed it to my class.  I owed it to Annemarie.

“But that’s not the worst thing I did.  Because even after I was so awful to Annemarie and destroyed a valuable friendship, she still beat my scores.  And I wanted to be at the top.  So I started stealing her homework assignments.  At first I just took the assignments she had already turned in, so she couldn’t study off of them.  Some of her test scores dropped, and I caught up a little.  The teachers just thought she was getting disorganized.

“But it only worked for a little while, and she still was still ahead of me.  So I took the next step.  I started stealing her homework assignments before she could turn them in.  At first the teachers had some grace with her, but they started passing out zeros eventually.  And during that time, I kept bringing up my grades.  Part of it was because… because I copied her answers.

I couldn’t look anyone in the eyes now.  Some of my buddies looked at me with shock.  Like, no way, our Fred did all this?  It made me want to run away right then.  But I had to hold my ground.  Telling the truth was the closest thing I could do to redeeming myself.

“Although Annemarie was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known, it took her a while to figure it out.  I think it’s because she still trusted me some.  I mean, even if one of your best friends turns into a total jerk, you don’t exactly expect him to try to sabotage your grades, right?  Because that’s a really low thing to do.  But I didn’t deserve her to think me above that, and soon enough, she caught on.

“It was because I started to get too reckless.  I actually stole one of her essays and turned it in as my own.  She had worked extra hard on it, since she was trying to bring her grade up.  It was so good that the teacher read it out loud to the class.  The rest of you probably remember this part.  She ran out of the room and no one knew why but me.

“Gosh, I’ll never forget when she confronted me about it after class.  Here’s my advice to you all before you graduate.  Never betray someone.  Because when they find out, it hurts.  Not just because they hate you.  It hurts to know that you deserve to be hated.  She yelled and cried and asked where Fred went, the fun, admirable guy that she had been friends with since kindergarten.

“I just stood there, not knowing how to answer that question.  I wanted to know, too.  So I just stood there and denied everything, which was the worst thing I could have done.  And stay seated boys and girls, because this is about to get worse.

The words started flying out of my mouth before I could stop them now.  I felt like I kept all this inside of me like campaign in a bottle, and now that I took the cork off, stuff was spewing everywhere.  It wasn’t pretty, but it needed to happen.

“Annemarie wouldn’t stomach me treating her like that, so she told the teacher.  And the teacher took it to Mr. Jacobson.  When Mr. Jacobson asked me about it, I still denied it.  I had dug a hole so deep that I thought the only way to get out was to keep digging until I reached the other side of the world.  If I admitted to what I did, I was afraid everyone would find out the dark truth about fabulous Freddy, and I couldn’t stand that.

“Mr. Jacobson let it go, because my family is friends with his and my parents are on the board.  And here’s what’s worse.  I let him do it.  I observed an awful injustice—one that I could have stopped—and I let it just fly by.  Anyone with any character wouldn’t have done that.  So that’s the truth about me, who I am, and why I did what I did today.  And for the record, it’s the truth about Annemarie, too.”

Before I admitted it, I caught Joe’s eyes.  He gave me a nod, encouraging me to say it.  Because he knew it, too.  I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.  Hot tears streamed down my face and I could hardly choke out a word.  There was nothing I could do to stop the crying.

“That’s why she died.  It was because of me.”

Ruth

I stood up, my face such a mess of tears and snot that I had given up on tissues.  No one really noticed though, because they were all gaping at Fred, who had reduced to a mess of uncontrollable sobs.  I felt a huge weight lifted off of me.  The truth wasn’t out in the open yet, but it showed itself, piece by piece.  And most importantly, we stopped pretending.  We acknowledged that something had gone wrong.

“Fred,” I started in a small voice.  “I really appreciate everything you said, but it’s not all true.”  He looked up at me with a confused expression, and I started blabbering.  “You know it’s not really your fault.  I mean, part of it is.  If I’m honest I’ve blamed you some of the time, but that was because it was easier than blaming myself.  It was my fault, too.  I helped kill her.”

My golly it sounded so dramatic when I said it (and the expressions of my classmates told me they thought so, too) but it just seemed really true to me.  I didn’t feel like I was exaggerating.  After Fred told his story, I felt like it was time for me to tell the truth, too.  So I did.

“We all knew Annemarie was getting depressed her junior year.  Fred told us part of the reason why, but I think there were other things involved.  Things we don’t know about.  Anyway, she started to look kind of different.  I had known her for years, so I knew when there was a change.  She always looked at the floor and she hardly looked anyone in the eye.  (Which was sad, because she did have the prettiest grey eyes.)  And whenever I did see those eyes, I saw they were puffy red and had dark circles under them.  She didn’t used to be that way.

“She also started pulling back.  I knew Annemarie was shy, but this came to a whole new level.  Whenever I asked her if she wanted to do anything, she always said she had to study, even though her grades were perfect.  Then she got disorganized with school (well, that was what we thought anyway) and her grades started dropping, which just wasn’t like her.  And she still always told me she had to study.  Then one day at lunch, a friend of mine (I won’t name her, but she knows who she is) told me she thought Annemarie was addicted to drugs.

I tried not to glance at Martha, but I could see her blushing out of the corner of my eyes.  I did love Martha (I really did) but that girl had to learn to get control of her mouth.  If anything would teach her, this would.

“Anyway, that seemed to be the missing piece of the puzzle.  I didn’t stop to think whether it would fit in Annemarie’s character to do something like that.  I didn’t even stop to think where on earth she might be getting drugs.  It just explained so much that I latched on to it, and because Annemarie was my friend, I determined I would help her.

“So one day after school I confronted her and told her (my golly, I actually told her) that I knew about her drug addiction and the other girls did, too.  I told her I didn’t judge her and I was there to help with anything I could.  Well, she just exploded.  She asked me how I would know that she had a drug addiction and where I would even get the idea.

“I had to admit that I gotten the idea from the school gossip.  (I felt so ashamed then.  I questioned my friend’s character because of what other people said.)  That just made everything worse.  She didn’t know about the rumors flying around about her, and by then everyone was half convinced that she took drugs.  When she found out the whole school was talking about her behind her back, she broke down, poor thing.

“I tried to help her, but she wouldn’t listen.  I deserved that.  She told me that her eyes were red from crying, the dark circles came from insomnia and nightmares, and that her grades were because of what Fred did.  She ran away after that, and I never really spoke to her again.  And what really hurts is that I instead of being a friend, I only showed her she didn’t have friends.  I showed judgement and rejection.  She died of it.

Joe

“well, i’ll take it from here.”  i stood up, brushing off my khakis.  ruth and fred were too emotional to say anything anymore.  besides, they didn’t know this part.  well, they did, but not as well as I did.  everyone looked kinda surprised i was even talking.  i kinda shut down after Annemarie died.  never talked or did anything friendly like that.

“so one day i did something wrong at school.  heck, i don’t even remember now, i’ve done so many dumb things at school.  but that time i got a detention for it, so i hadta stay after school in that room ya know?  and you straight-laced kids that have never even touched a detention slip won’t know what i’m talking about here, but in the detention room you can hear everything that goes on in jacobson’s office.  i mean everything.  wouldn’t believe all the things i heard.

“so yeah anyway, i heard annemarie’s voice that day.  and she was one of my best friends, so i knew that voice.  it kinda freaked me out at first, since she never got in enough trouble to go to jacobson’s office, but i figured it must have been some kind of friendly conversation.  then i heard what they were talking about, and i got real upset.  i mean, i was already pissed off at fred for the way he was treating annemaire.  one second we’re all best friends, the next he hates her.  i didn’t like that.

“and kinda like ruth, i was real worried about annemarie.  i mean, she wasn’t acting like she usually did.  when i found out what fred was doing to her, i just about blew it.  i mean, it was one of the dirtiest tricks i’d heard of.  sorry man, but it’s true.  and to find out my friends were going against each other like that just about killed me.  ’cause, you know, my friends were the only people i really trusted.

“but i decided to relax, because even though i never cared much for old jacobson, i figured he’d take care of the thing.  so i watched for a while.  and that idiot principal didn’t do a freaking thing about the situation.  he just let it continue.  i was getting more angry by the minute.  so finally i decided to take care of it.

“one day after school, i cornered old fred.  i told him i knew everything about him and annemarie and said that if he didn’t fix things real fast, i would fix them for him.  well, freddie here got kinda nervous, but he played it cool.  he told me to screw off and mind my own business.  i told him that annemarie was just about the best friend i had, and if anyone hurt her it was my business.

“then we started yellin’ at each other and i don’t even remember what we said, or even who threw the first punch.  you know how they talk about you getting so mad you see red?  well, i really think i did see red then.  i think the whole world just turned red as a cherry.  at some point, some teachers started pulling us apart.  i was so mad i can’t even remember who they were.

“but i do remember one thing.  and it’s the important part.”  suddenly i started to get all emotional and couldn’t talk anymore.  tears started falling everywhere, all those tears i’d been keeping in since the beginning of the school year, when i swore to myself that i wouldn’t cry about it anymore.  that was after dad told me no real man would cry over something for so long, and i should quit being a little girl and get over it.  i think that’s just about one of the worst things to say, and i kinda hate him for it, but i still stopped crying ‘cause i couldn’t stand the way he’d look at me when i did it.

“the one thing i really can remember from that whole thing is this.  when the teachers pulled me away, i was fighting and screaming and doing everything i could to get back to fred.  then i saw a couple of kids watching us from the doorway of the school.  some of you were probably there, but i don’t remember.  all I remember was that annemarie was there, those grey eyes of hers shining with tears instead of pride.

“ya see, i thought she’d be happy to have a friend defend her, but she didn’t see that.  all she saw was that two people who used to be such great buds were now practically trying to kill each other.  two of her old friends.  so instead of going to her and helping her like i should have, i just made another piece of her world fall apart.

“’course i got suspended for a week because of the fight, and i couldn’t explain anything to her.  heck, i couldn’t even ask her what she thought of the whole thing.  still don’t know.  fred didn’t get a single day’s suspension for the incident, mind you.  jacobson said it was because he only fought out of self-defense, but i can tell you it was more than that.

“and you know, by the time i got back to school…”  i couldn’t talk anymore.  i choked on these hysterical sobs, like the ones i had at the funeral.  gosh, i just couldn’t get a hold of myself.  i think it was several minutes before i could actually say it, even though i’m not sure anyone heard it.  “when i got back she was dead.”

Annemarie

They almost had the whole story.  They understood what they knew, but there were

            Bits

            And pieces

            That they were missing.

            People are always thinking they know everything when they’re missing pieces.

            Here’s what they didn’t know:

            First was my family.  That was the original problem, the first one that threw me into depression.  There was no love in my home.  Not for one another, not for God.  Although my dad was a Baptist pastor, he had dozens of affairs.  Mom always kept her head down, accepting whatever he did.  Even the way he treated me, the unwanted child of an unwanted marriage.

            Then there was Mrs. Goneril, coach of the girls’ soccer team at Jude Christian Academy.  I knew I couldn’t play well, but I could play as well as most of the girls on the team.  With practice, I could have been as good as the star player.  Yet she didn’t let me on the team.

            When my timid freshmen self asked why I was the only one who didn’t make try-outs, she snapped at me, told me I had no talent and never would.  Then, being the naïve girl I once was, I appealed to Mr. Jacobson, sure he would do something to rectify the situation.  I think he looked me in the eye exactly one time when I went into his office.  He brushed it off like it was nothing, like my feelings were a cheap vase that he wouldn’t mind to see broken.

            I walked away from that office a shell of a person I once was.  My parents, who I was supposed to be able to turn to in times of trouble, who presented themselves as upright Christians, were liars.  Then Jude Christian Academy, the place that promised to nurture me and provide the caring environment that my family couldn’t, shattered me and stepped on the broken pieces.

            And then came everything else.

            Now, watching my friends, the thing I most wanted to tell them was that I didn’t blame them.

 

Graduation Day– The Hidden Truth

Today is Saturday, which means it is time for me to continue this story.  Honestly I’m not entirely sure how much I like it myself, but some of you seem to be enjoying it, so I’ll continue.  For those of you who are interested here is part one, part two, and part three.  For those of you who are not interested, here is a summary of what’s happened so far:

It’s graduation day at Jude Christian Academy, an international Christian school.  Joe, Ruth, Fred, and Annemarie all should be graduating.  Something happened the year before that makes them all feel uneasy today.  It made Joe fail his classes last year, preventing him from graduating.  Ruth did better, but barely.  Fred is graduating valedictorian, but something is bothering him.  And Annemarie… is gone, but she’s watching them.  When Fred gives his speech, he emotionally falls apart, and it is revealed that Annemarie is a ghost.  (It’s much more interesting when you actually read it.) 

Joe

funny what the weather does sometimes.  when I walked home from graduation, it was pouring buckets, and you’d think it’d be sunny, ‘cause it was supposed to be happy day, you know?  and last year, with all that crap that happened, it was sunny.  every freaking day.  i really hated the sun for shining like that.  i know it’s dumb, but i did.

though during that time, the sky did have the decency to rain on one day.  i remembered that a little better than i wanted to.  i was sitting outside during the service.  just sitting there, letting myself get soaked and shivery cold.  it was actually the last time i talked to ruth.

“joe, why aren’t you listening to the service?”  she sat down next to me, pushing that frizzy blonde hair out of her eyes.  always getting concerned for others, that ruth.

“i don’t wanna.”  i didn’t look at her.  i just couldn’t.

she sat there for a while.  “why not?”

“’cause.”  i figured i had to tell someone, and it might as well be her.  “’cause I don’t care what that idiot pastor has to say.  it’s all a load of crap.”

then she gave me that look.  that oh my gosh I thought you were a better person than that how can you say such a thing? look“joe, I know you’re going through a hard time.  my golly, we all are.  but this isn’t the way to deal with it.”

“then what is the way to deal with it?”

“turn to god, joe.  find his love, his comfort.”

“oh yeah?  well, what did that comfort do for Annemarie?  did god’s love help frank become a good person?  and don’t even get me started on jacobson.  then there’s us to talk about.   we all believed in god, and look where that got us.  i’m done.  i’m just sick of the whole thing.”

she turned kinda pale and trembly.  “no joe.  no.  please, please don’t give up.”

“i’m not giving up on everything.  just on god.”

ruth looked so hurt and upset that for a moment, i kinda regretted sayin’ all that, but not really, ‘cause it just felt so good to say the truth.  she started to say something, then she just shut her lips and walked inside.  and we never talked after that.

and now that i could look back, it wasn’t just depression that made me fail all my classes my junior year.  it was that i hated jude christian academy so much.  ‘cause I could believe in god before i went there.  and you know, i make about as much sense as the weather.  i’d wanted something bad to happen to the school for so long.  now it had.  but it didn’t make me feel happy.  i just felt empty.

Ruth

I could only remember three times when my family left me alone like this.  (When our dog died, last year, and today).  Not even mom tried to talk to me, which she usually did.  But I was kind of relieved, because there are sometimes you just want to be alone.  (Like when you’re staring at a picture of your kindergarten class and you think it might kill you.)

Taking a picture is like taking a piece of the world and freezing it forever, so that even after your world shatters and rebuilds itself a million times over, the world you took a picture of still exists in a small way.  But sometimes pictures just tell you how much you’ve lost.  (Like right now)

First on the left was Fred, with his crazy carrot hair and a splash of freckles.  (His looks never changed much, but I hardly recognized him anymore.)  Then came Joe, with sparkling dark blue eyes (which no one would remember without pictures because he stopped smiling) and his perfectly combed brown hair (which has been a mess ever since he lost his smile).  Then came me (and I can’t name all the things I’ve lost) and then came Annemarie (the biggest loss of all).

And I couldn’t stop thinking about Joe, and how life is so unfair.  (I know everyone says that too much, but that’s because it’s just so true).  Because last year, when the world fell apart, I stopped doing my school work, too.  I was just as bad as Joe.  And now here I am graduating and heading off to university, while Jude Christian Academy refused to give Joe a diploma.  So instead of doing what he wants this summer then going to the university of his choice, he had to do summer school and then go to community college until he could transfer.  (not that there’s anything wrong with summer school or community college, just that Joe should have had the choice)

That wasn’t because he was smarter than me, or dealt with the trauma any better than me.  Here’s the truth.  Mr. Jacobson didn’t like him.  Joe was ADHD and never a serious student like the rest of us, so Mr. Jacobson was happy for an excuse to throw him out.  I, on the other hand, was a just the kind of studious, happy, church-going kid that he wanted at his school.  So I was allowed to keep attending school and graduate.  It was so unfair.

I picked up another picture from the floor, one of our junior class, of all the people who had been my best friends throughout the years.  But even though I loved all of them, (I did, really) Joe, Annemarie, and Fred always had a special place in my heart.  Now Fred thought I hated him. (which if I’m honest, I did a little.  And Joe definitely did)  Joe and I hadn’t talked. (which was all my fault.  I really hated myself for showing him judgement when he needed love)  And Annemarie…

Blinking back the tears, I thought about how much I missed all of them (so much that it physically hurt).  Right then I made a decision.  I pulled out my phone with shaking hands, and for the first time in over a year, I texted Joe.  Coming to the graduation party tonight?

            Because even though I didn’t know if he would come or not (or if he would even read a message from me) I knew that we all needed each other more than ever now.

Fred

I didn’t go home after graduation.  I just took off and roamed the city without telling anyone where I was going.  My family didn’t call, so they must have known where I was, or at least that I wanted to be alone.  I had only done this once.  Last year.

As I walked around the park by myself, still wearing my graduation outfit, I thought over everything that happened, down to the last detail.  I remembered how Principal Jacobson stood in front of the room.  I remembered how we were all still talking and laughing then, since we didn’t know what he was going to say.  I remembered someone wondering where she was, then me feeling relieved she wasn’t there.  I remembered hating myself for that later.

But most of all I remembered what it felt like when Principal Jacobson announced the news.  All of the sudden the whole world started sobbing and screaming, but I just sat there, feeling like I had been run over by an eighteen wheeler.  I didn’t know if I should feel loss, pain, guilt, or indifference.  I felt all of them but the last one.

Then after that day at school, I just wandered around the city, not sure where I was going or where I came from.  For the first time in my life, I didn’t do any of my homework assignments, but no one noticed, because pretty much no one did homework that whole week.  What they did notice was that one day later, I started doing my homework again.  I was actually probably the first person in my class to start doing homework again.  And I started doing more homework than ever before.

Everyone thought that I did homework because I didn’t feel as upset as the others.  That wasn’t true.  I did homework because I felt as upset as the others.  I just dealt with it differently.  Even though I always played it cool and made jokes about having senioritis, I almost never stopped working.  It numbed the pain, somehow, and I thought I was accomplishing something.

Now that I was walking through the city again just like last year, I saw that I had accomplished nothing.

Annemarie

Here’s the awful truth about what happened last year.

            Here’s the tragedy that tore the world apart and took me away.  That revealed the dark side of everyone I know.  That perhaps showed our lovely school community for what it was.

            I died.

            The world piled on pain after pain, shoveled on shame, and tore away everyone I trusted.  Until I decided it wasn’t worth it.  Nothing could make me live through another day.  I was through.

            So I killed myself.

            I had no pills or poison, so this is what I did: One day after school, when no one was home, I went to my kitchen and took the biggest knife.  Then I locked myself in the bathroom.  And I cut.  I cut one smooth line across my left wrist.  For good measure, to speed the process, I cut the other.

            And I watched my life pour out.

            I left the world

            Drop

            By

            Drop.

            Now I was a ghost, watching from above.

Author’s  note: I don’t believe in ghosts haunting places.  I’m not sure if I believe in people watching us from Heaven, as happens in this story.  I just used it for the sake of the story.

Graduation Day– Ghost

So the story continues.  Part one is here and part two is here.  Or, you can read on without reading the prequels if you like.  This week’s episode is a little shorter.

Fred

I stepped up to the podium, holding on to my robe to hide my shaking hands.  Meeting the eyes of the audience, I cleared my throat.  They all stared at me with unblinking eyes, waiting for me to deliver my grand valedictorian speech so they could wipe their eyes, clap, and go home.

Taking a deep breath, I started spewing out everything I planned to say about the wonderful time I had at Jude Christian Academy and how much it prepared me for the great adventure of life.  I kept going on and on, faster and faster, not even caring if they could understand my words.  I was top of my speech class, but I just wanted to get off that stage as soon as possible.

I knew they would all wonder if I would mention something about what happened last year, but of course I wouldn’t.  If there was something I could never do, it was talk about that.  Because if I talked about it, I would have to tell the truth.  And if I told the truth, they would hate me.  They would also know how little I deserved to give this speech.  I should’ve been expelled, not honored.

I made sure I met the eyes of everyone in the crowd without maintaining eye contact for too long, just like my speech teacher told me.  Although I tried to avoid it, I made eye contact with Joe at one point.  Instead of glaring, he gave me this look that told me I was doing exactly what he expected, because lying and pretending was all that I was capable of.  Somehow that was much worse than glaring.

Getting more nervous, I looked away, trying to push the words of my speech out as fast as possible.  People started to give me strange looks, but I didn’t care.  I just wanted off that stage.  When my words became so jumbled I couldn’t tell what I was saying anymore, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

Man, that was a mistake.  Because as soon as I did, I got this picture of Annemarie.  Not from when she was a kindergartener with cute brown curls, but when she was sixteen years old, gaping at me with confusion and hurt, saying that I betrayed her.  Those grey eyes looked deep down in my soul, seeing all the darkest parts of me.

I gasped, my eyes opening wide again.  The audience put on fake smiles to encourage me, but some of them couldn’t hide their concern.  Or their disgust.  Then I saw my little brother Drew, looking up at me with scared wide brown eyes, wondering what was happening to the stable big brother he always knew.  And I knew he was asking something, too.  He was asking me to be the hero that he thought I was, to give him some one worth looking up to.  And I think that’s what did me in.

“I’m sorry,” I said, dropping my papers and backing away from the podium.  “I don’t deserve to give this speech.  I don’t deserve this tassel.  I cheated to get here.  The real valedictorian is Annemarie.”

Ruth

It’s like a dam broke.  When Fred said that, all the tears held inside of me came bursting out, and I started crying so hard I wasn’t even sure what was happening.  I think I heard some commotion.  A mess of people started talking and crying all at once, while Fred ran off the stage.  Maybe someone put a comforting hand on my shoulder.

But all I could really do was cry and hurt and miss her and miss her and miss her.  I wanted Annemarie back.  I wanted her to give her valedictorian speech (and me the salutatorian speech).  Then I wanted for us all to talk and laugh about our memories, especially Annemarie, Fred, Joe, and me.  I wanted us to be best friends again.

That could never happen anymore.  We lost all that last year.  When I watched Fred breaking down (I really hate to admit this) I almost felt happy.  Not just because someone finally spoke the truth, but because he deserved this.  He deserved to hurt, too.

Joe

i’d been waiting for something like this to happen for so long.  dreamed it up so many times.  but when it actually happened i just kinda sat there, wondering what in the world was going on.  everyone was startin’ to get worked up about it, and jacobson tried to get fred to go back on the stage.  that idiot jacobson.  the one time fred’s right and he tries to correct him.

though thank god that fred didn’t get up there, ‘cause i couldn’t’ve stomached that.  ‘specially since jacobson wanted it.  i hated the guy more than fred.  so I just sat there, watching the salutatorian speech that no one was listening to, watching everyone freak out about what fred said.

and even after all fred did, i hadta kinda respect him for what he said back there.  ‘cause it took guts, and i was just so freaking glad someone finally told the truth.  or something close to it anyway.  so i sat there through the rest of that dumb puppet show of a graduation, feeling the closest to happy that i had felt in a long time.  “well annemarie, what do you make of this?”

Annemarie

I watched the truth start to unfold as graduation fell to pieces.  The administration tried to end the event as soon as possible, pushing all of the guests out before anyone could ask questions, especially questions that would ruin the school’s reputation.  When I saw Fred running off and crying his eyes out, I wanted to speak to him, to say that I forgave him for all he ruined.  But I couldn’t.  He had to deal with the consequences on his own.

            I never thought I’d live to see the day when Fred told the truth.  Or when any piece of the truth started to come out.  Then I almost smiled at my mistake.  Because I didn’t.  I never could.  I was never really there.

            I was a ghost.