I used to have a belief, and that belief is what I lived by. I have begun to realize, since I left this town, that that belief is what kept me alive. If I had not forced myself to believe it, I would probably not be as I am today. My belief was that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. I still believe it, but a little differently. You see; I now believe that there is not always a light ahead in life. I have found, through experience, that that light sometimes lies in death. I really did used to believe in the light, but then again, I used to be happy.
My family moved to a small town outside of Chicago. (Which I still don't know the name of.) At first I didn't care, I'd never had very many friends, making there nothing to leave behind. I had no reason to care, though now I hate to think that. You see, I had three friends, with me through thick and thin, and they were coming with me. This may seem a little strange, except for the fact that my three friends were truly my two cats, and my older brother.
I lived well enough at first, though not happily, but not extremely unhappily either. Every day I would take the long way home from school, through the park. In the park there was a small, man-made lake, with extremely murky, brown, water. That lake used to make me sick, but I went there anyway because there was a beautiful willow on the shore. I used to climb it and write in my diary.
I didn't exactly keep a diary, it was more an account of my day: my homework, my classes, what I ate for lunch, tests, and such. I think now that part of my problem making friends was that I didn't relate to other girls, as my diary clearly showed. I never really a diary, I never had fights with friends, boyfriends, or crushes on movie stars, like most kids. None of this mattered to me though, because I had Keith.
Keith was my older brother, and my very best friend. He understood me like none of the other kids did, even though he was four years older. "What's up, chicken gut?" he would ask. It was our tradition.
I could tell him anything; he always seemed to know when I was upset. I'd just groan at the use of his nickname for me, and tell him everything. Even though Keith had always been popular, he was really sympathetic towards me. I would tell him how I was different form the other kids. I had raven black hair and always wore long, flowing prairie skirts. In New York, it hadn't mattered what I wore. It was a big city so while there was still a lot of racial prejudice, (it was 196? After all) but for the most part, nobody was discriminated against because nobody was the same. But when we moved, all the kids were the same. With their Gap jeans, Abercrombie sweatshirts, and Tommy Hilfinger shoes, I was a storm cloud in a clear, blue, sky. I could never except that they were the jerks, though. I thought something was wrong with me; I began to hate myself. A week later one of my cats (Smurf) died. That really finished me: I decided to do something drastic. I was going to smoke, except Keith caught me at the store. "There's nothing wrong with you," he used to say. "It's them."
I think now that Keith was my sanity, and if it weren't for him, I would have ended up smoking, or on drugs, or something. Keith kept me from ruining my life, and Smurfette, (my other cat) kept me as content as any unhappy 14-year-old could be. But I never really knew how bad my life was, until it got worse. Keith was drafted, and never came back.
The night Keith told us he had been drafted, and was going to help the war effort, my mother burst into tears. I don't think anyone is happy when they find out their brother and only friend is going to war, but that is the only time I can ever remember crying. I knew that by him leaving I was completely alone. That night, I didn't sleep. I didn't want to. I wanted to preserve the day, because in a few days Keith would leave and I would be alone. I think now that the worst part was that I knew the only reason my schoolmates tolerated me was because of Keith, my popular older brother. (Whom half the girls had crushes on.)
Unfortunately, the next day at school my fears were confirmed. Instead of just whispered about and ignored, I was outwardly hated. The only kind word I remember getting was from a girl who never spoke to anyone, and it was only to express sympathy. I probably would have really messed myself up, except I remembered my promise to Keith. "I'm worried about you Maggie," he'd said. "Do you promise me you won't trash your life while I'm gone?"
"But how do you know you'll be back," I retorted, almost sobbing.
Reluctantly, I'd agreed. I think now that I'm glad I did, or he would have gone off with more on his plate than he should have.
But two weeks before my birthday, Smurfette died. She had been old, but I had truly felt she had betrayed me. Despite my lack of friends for as long back as I can think, that was the first time I truly felt alone. Luckily, Keith had been prepared for this as well, and before he had left, he'd made me a promise. He had known that he wouldn't be home for my birthday, and so he'd promised me I would have a letter by then to tell me he was all right. Every day I'd sit by the window after school, waiting for the mail to come. And every day it came, with no letter from Keith.
One week before my birthday, while I was waiting for the mail, a brown car pulled up. A man wearing a black suit got out and came up the front walk. When he had reached the front door, he glanced to his side and caught me gaping at him out the window. He glared at me, but with a look that held so much pity I suddenly knew who he was. He rang the doorbell, and I got up to answer it, my most stone-like look on my face. When I answered it, he greeted me cordially, and asked to see my mother, none of the pity left from before. I ran to get my mother, and from the look on her face, she knew who he was too.
His visit was brief, and I think now that if my father had owned a gun, I would have shot myself then and there. I thought then, and still think now, that Keith had left me entirely alone in the world.
After that dreadful visit, I ran to my room and destroyed my calendar. Six days until my 15th birthday. That was the day I remember starting to make plans.
My mother took one look at Keith's empty chair that night and burst into tears. My father tried to comfort her, but it seemed to me that he needed just as much comfort as she did. I kept still, and made myself think of stone.
Two days before my birthday, I came home pretending to be elated, but I think now that my acting probably wasn't necessary. I told my mother that I had been invited to some girl's house to sleep over the night before my birthday. She (of course,) was ecstatic that I was making friends, and said yes.
The day before my fifteenth birthday, I walked down to the highway with my diary. I wrote a letter to my parents, and then began to record my plans. Now I wish I hadn't though, I'd always kept them in my head, they should have stayed there. I picked up my book of meditative poems, and prepared for a long wait.
Around 10:00 at night, when the night had just reached the point when a swan could have flown in front of my face and not been noticed, that's when it happened. The bus was speeding, so I knew it wouldn't be able to stop. Quietly I slunk to my place.
The end of the tunnel was near-I could see the light. Closer! Closer! Clo-

I watched them bury the coffin under the willow tree, as I had asked. I saw my mother sobbing, and my father making no effort to comfort her. I saw the special needs girl, who had been so nice to me, tears streaming down her cheeks. I reached out and touched my mother's cheek, but she can't sense me. "It will be better this way," I whisper. It's almost as if she hears me, her sobs lessen. I wish she could, but I know that my white, pearly, translucent body can't be sensed.
It is better this way, I assure myself. As much as I miss my parents, I am happy, I'm back with my three best friends. Keith and I stay up late playing Parcheesi, and I sleep late the next morning. I can wear whatever I want, be whatever I want: no one cares.
The willow tree is here. Some developers bought the park a few days after I joined Keith. Yesterday the silent girl (who's name is Mary) came, she had been in a car accident. Tonight we're going to have a sleepover; she's going to bring a movie. I think for the first time in a long time, I've smiled. You see: I've finally found the light.