It was the later part of my sophomore year in high school.

One time, I remember her running down the crowded school hallway and pulling me to the side. She was crying. My best friend was upset. Some girls complained to the office that she kissed a girl in the locker room. They were thinking of suspending her for sexual harassment against the other students, looking for an excuse to get her in trouble. Everyone was always trying to find some excuse to make her out to be a bad person: my friends, my teachers, my parents. She was trembling, her chest heaving, her breaths short. I hugged her, told her everything would be ok. The tears stopped, and she realized they had no right to be targeting her. She told the office what she told me then, "If guys and girls can kiss and have sex in the hallway, then why can't I kiss a girl. It's offensive to me that they do this every day and do not get stopped!" We were always able to help each other through these things, and had lots of opportunities to do so being in all the same clubs and a few of the same classes, including lunch.

"That's all you need to tell them," I said. "You're right. They're wrong. Show them."

We hugged again and she walked confidently into the main office of the school.

No matter what I told everyone else, they were all convinced I needed to stop being friends with her. Day and night I was badgered and heckled, told to ignore her or I would destroy my life, that people wouldn't be friends with me anymore if I stayed friends with her.

I couldn't take anymore of this needless abuse. Sure, she was my friend, but I had to think about how other people saw me as well. So, I decided to end the relationship one day.

"As a hunter, you are here to reclaim this land - hold it, sweep it, cleanse it until every trace of the zombie is gone."(2)

We sat together in the cafeteria, joined by our crew of social misfits. She started our usual discussion of what she was reading in AP English and we were having a good time. The topic: the ambivalence of the protagonist of Camus' The Stranger.

"Well, maybe he was just convinced by others not to show his emotion at all," I suggested.

She looked puzzled. "What would make you say that? It's not really implied in the book at all."

"I don't know, just an idea. Something must have convinced him to just pull the trigger on that gun and kill that man on the beach; such an easy thing to do, too. A single finger completely ended one life and doomed another." She could tell my mind was not on the discussion at all.

She pulled her hair back into a pony tail with the purple hair-tie on her wrist. She straightened her Tweety Bird shirt and licked her lips. Then her hand slid its way onto my leg. I hit it.

"What did you do that for?" She was startled. I had never physically stopped her before. In all the years I had known her, I had never once tried to block her advances. "Is something wrong, Sweetie?" She always called me Sweetie. I hated that.

"Don't touch me," I said. Everyone else at the table pretended to be shocked. They all had a smug look of satisfaction that was telling of their purpose. They were a silent cheer squad, encouraging me to go through with everything they told me I needed to do.

"Sweetie..." I did not let her finish.

"Don't call me that! I'm not your Sweetie. I never was."

She looked like she was going to cry. The attack was successful, but not very deep. I had merely gotten her attention.

"While destroying a zombie may be simple, it is far from easy...Choosing the right

"I don't like you. I never really did. I felt bad for you, but I don't anymore. People are starting to talk about me. I don't need anymore attention because of a freak like you."

She started to cry. "What are you trying to say?"

"I hate you."

She ran out of the room, red in the face from embarrassment, pain, and betrayal. Some of the faculty in the cafeteria had been watching as closely as my friends; they, too, seemed satisfied with the events of the lunch hour. I had finally accepted responsibility for my own life and ended that relationship. I never talked to her again.

A steady, mournful dirge lingers in the background. "Lips are turning blue...I only dream of you."(1)

What did I just do? She had only left the cafeteria five minutes before and I already missed her. I had this sinking feeling in my chest that something terribly wrong had happened. My friends were congratulating me on getting rid of her, faculty concurring with a smile and a nod.

What was wrong with these people? They made it seem like this was the right move for me. Yet they're the one's who are smiling. How is this possible?

"A starlight in the gloom."(1)

She was special to me and I let those people get in the way. I regretted doing it. There was no satisfaction for this. There would never be. I wanted to chase after her and tell her everything would be ok, that I didn't really mean what just happened. I knew I couldn't. I couldn't risk losing everything to please one person. And this was the right decision, right? Everyone else thought so. Yet I couldn't help feeling bad.

"Sing for absolution, I will be singing, and falling from your grace."(1) The synthesizers cry out for forgiveness.

I shook my head, put on my best happy face, and went along with everyone else.

It was December of my junior year in high school, a Friday night to be exact. There was a coffee house at the high school that night. And not just any coffee house either; it was the alumni coffee house, where all the graduates who used to be active in the club were invited back to hang out and perform.

During the obligatory social hour, she showed up. She walked up to the faculty advisor and pulled her to the side for one of their formerly regular discussions. And then she saw me.

"A wrong move, a moment's hesitation, and you may feel cold hands gripping your arm."(2)

Her performance started innocently enough. "I haven't been able to write anything in a long time. It almost seems as if my muse had disappeared." She started emphasizing words and glaring at me in the introduction. "I really didn't know what to do with myself. I had received some criticism about my performance and really haven't been able to do a thing since. But then I saw something and was suddenly able to write with a new interest. This is the poem that I just scribbled down when I saw that thing in the room."

I don't remember the exact poem, but I do recall certain words that have stuck with me: hate, regret, death, blade, crimson wave, destruction, grey, black and blue. When these came up, she sent a hate-filled glance my way. I was shaking.

"Falling from your grace."(1) A scream erupts from the heart of the singer.

Everyone was shifting in their seats, turning their heads - first at her, then at me. She was the end of the first act and an intermission would follow at the completion of her performance.

"For safety...staying together is mandatory. A separated individual could easily be surrounded and consumed."(2)

I wasn't going to wait to see what she would do. She received no applause and stepped off the stage; I ran to the bathroom, red in the face and breathing heavy from the terror rising through my body. I locked myself in a stall and started to cry. "She's going to kill me." The damage was done without any real contact or direct confrontation between us. She had finally had her say.

I could hear my friends from outside the door. They were all going after her together, like they refused to when I was forced to work by myself and get rid of her. There was a lot of shouting and I couldn't clearly hear anything that was said at all.

They eventually called and told me it was safe to leave.

I can't remember how many people walked up to me and told me I had done the right thing the previous school year, that I showed a lot of character and strength by taking the initiative to end it. The faculty advisor even told me that she always saw it as a safety concern and was glad when she heard that I ended the relationship.

What was wrong with these people? Don't they remember that they were the ones who made me fight their battle? They forced me to end this relationship for their own reasons and now tried to claim a higher cause than their petty reasons for disliking her.

"A modern conceit is that a zombie retains the knowledge of its former life...In truth...zombies could not possibly retain memories of their former lives in either there conscious or subconscious mind, because neither exist!"(2)

This was ridiculous. They treated her like she was some kind of monster for years before I stopped being friends with her. They all lashed out at her and targeted her and wondered why she didn't treat them well at all. I was nice to her and considered her one of my closest friends.

Yet the others don't seem to remember what really happened. How I was against doing this and they had to threaten me to harm another person. She wasn't a monster; she was a human being who deserved respect. Maybe if I never turned on her because of them, this would not have happened at all. I wouldn't have had to live through everything she said that night. But my friends didn't care. Thanks to them, I never would have been able to talk to her again.

I was furious. How could they do this to someone? How could I? Why did I let them convince me of anything at all? Was I really that nervous about staying friends with these people?

Heavy distortion lingers in the air."Our wrongs remain unrectified and our souls won't be exhumed."(1) The singer wails out his anguish.

The second act was about to begin at the coffee house. I got up to perform my set. I received a standing ovation for going up there at all, after what happened.

These people seemed to care about me, but didn't see what they had done to that girl. Sure, I was the one who ended the relationship, but they were the ones that caused that. They forced me into a corner with no other option besides complete abandonment and isolation if I stayed friends with her.

They always saw her as some kind of monster, but I didn't. But because of what they forced me to do, she was hurt badly. She stayed by herself the rest of that school year before she graduated and started lashing out against other people. They tried to convince me that she had always done that and I was right in ending it. How could it be right to destroy someone? It couldn't be right to lead someone to the point that they felt such anger and hatred towards another person, no matter what the reason.

I was willing to admit I made a mistake; somehow, it was my fault that she was able to show that kind of outrage in the public. Yet they refused to feel any guilt, to feel regret, to take any responsibility for their own actions.

I put on my best happy face and started my performance.

Works Cited:

1. Bellamy, Matthew, Chris Wolstenholme, Dominic Howard. "Sing for Absolution." Absolution. Taste Media Limited, 2003.

2. Brooks, Max. The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead., New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.