The classroom was deathly silent when she came stumbling in, fifteen minutes as usual. She always looked especially sick, so the teacher just assumed "best vs. worst case scenario" every time. She was wrong. Really wrong. The girl with the dirty brown hair that came to her thighs sat next to me, like normal, and I tried everything I could to muster up the courage to tell her to get away. And like every time, she looked up at me with those fuzzy red eyes, those dull blues and smiled. I sighed.
The class lurched forward; she was half-asleep on my arm the entire time. I never heard her name called, I never asked for it either, I tried not to care. I really wanted to not care. I was her armrest, mostly, I guess. And class would end every day and she would get up and stumble out, going off to whatever next class she had, or trying to drive that poor excuse for a vehicle home without wrapping it around a tree.
"My name's..." And she whispered. I couldn't hear what she said, but I nodded and pretended that I did, "My name is..." I started, but Mrs. Bosh spoke up first, "Jericho?" My eyes met hers and I sighed and went back to taking notes. Since when did computer class not involve actual use of computers anyway? Ugh.
The class ended and as everyone got out as fast as they could, the brown-haired girl...I think I'm going to call her Autumn for now until I learn her name. Well, anyway, she stayed behind and I started walking out and she...really didn't seem like she was about to leave. I sighed. I don't know why I did what I did, maybe it was because I've always been too nice, or maybe I just wanted the attention, but in any case, I did the stupidest thing I've ever done in my entire life.
"Wanna get lunch?"
Despite her unimpressive appearance in class, she was a vibrant girl. Full of the craziest stories, like, for example, you know how you hear in movies "oh my god, remember that party last weekend dude? Man that was crazy!" Those were her parties. She was at the center of them. She lead them in full swing. And the ones she didn't start, she was most certainly at and damn if she wasn't the center of attention every time. Whether it was making out with every person she came within a few feet of, or out-drinking the entire football team, she was well-known. But nobody knew her name. I know I still didn't. She was just...that girl.
It kind of made me sad. But than again, I knew what she was. It kind of made me angry. But than again, I knew what she was. And than I was sad again. Sometimes I think I'm bi-polar...
Anyway. We had lunch a few more times, and she would always make an effort to come and see me in-between classes, even if it meant driving all the way back from...wherever it was that she lived. Presumably with her parents still, but they way she talked, you'd think she was in a different bed every night.
I didn't have the gull to ask for her name again, it would have been stupid to ask when she already told me, especially when she loved my name so much and put it in every sentence she could. She really wasn't what I needed. I was an attention whore back than. I needed the attention and she gave it to me...that really wasn't good. Especially considering what she was.
In any case, one day I got the courage and asked her out to the movies. I don't know why. I really didn't. But...she was different. And not all in a bad way either. She had this...unbridled energy in her, I could...feel it. I guess. And I was slowly drugged by her. Toxic. Intoxicating. She was amazing.
I had no idea what I was saying, haha. I was being a complete idiot, but isn't that how all college kids were back than? Yeah, you wouldn't know, but let me tell you...if I had known what would happen back than, if I had the knowledge I do now...I would have done it all again. Every bit of it. Because in the end, it really wasn't the end that mattered, it was how you got there. It was fun. Even if it was soul-crushing and heart-breaking.
So anyway, the night we went out to the movies was the first time I ever saw someone die.
It was some new comedy, ridiculous amounts of cursing and dirty talk, lots of drawings of penises. I don't know. I tried not to pay too much attention to certain parts, my inner-homophobe was showing, I won't lie. It was about half-way through the only chase scene in the movie, and I guarantee that I could have outran that cop...but that's just me. Well, it's half-way through this chase (I know that at this time, not back than, I didn't care what scene it was) when Autumn started shaking. I...had no idea what was going on, and I remembered briefly something I saw in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Except I didn't have any adrenaline shots.
Autumn didn't come to class again. I asked the teacher what happened to her, but Mrs. Bosh didn't know anything. She never knew anything. I really think she never wanted to be there, teaching should never be a paycheck. I sighed and kept searching. Everyone knew her. But no one knew her real name or even an idea of where she lived, because that van was unmistakable. She laughing called it her "rape van", but didn't notice that I thought she was serious at the time. I was about to give up hope and, you know, it always seems like when you're about to give up that you find exactly what you're looking for.
It was just a rumor. But it was heard there was an insane party planned. I tried to get directions from several...interesting individuals, but no one's stories added up. I had a feeling that the parties always started from a random kid who needed something to do, and it just burst from there. That was just me anyway. I decided to follow the cute goth girl's advice, she had fiery red hair and kept saying how she hated it...even though I never asked.
Anyway, her directions lead me to the worst town in our county, this little off-beat place that most of the families in the area actually lived. It wasn't that bad, just the history was a bit gritty. As well as the people. Hell, I'm not going to lie, the place was trash. But it was home to a lot of people and well...whatever.
I didn't find anything there. At all. Anywhere. I looked up and down, behind every wall and tree, every crack and hole, I even asked at the local convenience stores. No one had any idea what I was talking about, and that's when it hit me for real. All this time I was looking for an idea, not a person or a place, I was looking for this pre-conceived notion of a girl and a party and I knew what I had to do.
Back at the movie theater, I walked in without a word, walked past the ushers and straight in to theater four. Down to the third isle, three seats in and I sat down, staring at the black movie screen. I spoke aloud, "I love you." But there was no response. There was never a response. I laughed. I guess I must have sounded insane, because they called for someone to get me and that's why I'm here.
This room is so bright...you know? You won't respond, even though I know you're listening to my story. She was never there. Autumn was just in my head...ha-ha; she was just in my head the whole time. I couldn't believe it. I started shaking in that seat, I shook and shook and shook while I laughed and now I'm here.
It really does hurt; this pain in my head. I don't think it's going to go away...but it is starting to feel distant. Like a memory. Just a memory of the pain. Huh, it's weird, the room is getting brighter...and brighter...and...Autumn? Is that really you? You...are real? You're so beautiful...yeah, let's go, we'll be happy together away from this place. It really is too bright.