"Leah… Iona Winston committed suicide last night."
At first, I didn't know what to feel. There was no slamming of hearts, or welling of eyes. It was like my brain was still processing the information. My face morphed into a look of sympathy and concern as I regarded my best friend Sarah, who mirrored the look. "Really?"
Sarah and I had never really known Iona Winston all that well. She had been pretty high on the high school food chain, while we… well, weren't. She had been pretty, with the most gorgeous smile, even with her braces. Her friends all used to call her Brace Face.
But still, there were the rumours. That she was pregnant with her best friend's boyfriend's child, that her father abused her at home, that her mother had taken off with a man ten years her senior… it was endless, really. I myself had believed them – to an extent. Some I could believe, but some were just downright ridiculous.
Sarah and I shared another sad look, before I grabbed my clarinet case and music book and we went to our separate classes.
It wasn't until I saw the tear-struck faces of my peers did it really hit me.
Iona was gone. I was never going to see her again. I would never see her in French again, in the seat one to the right, and one down from mine. Her desk would be hauntingly empty for the rest of the semester, taunting us. I would never see her in gym again, encouraging us all and making the most silliest of faces.
She really was gone.
I set down my case and slumped heavily in my chair, and as soon as my eyes caught Dana's glassy ones, I started to tear up.
The rain soon became a waterfall.
Mr. Conrad was sympathetic, and as soon as the announcements were over – the principal announced Iona's death at the end, which only made everything more real and make me cry even harder – our music teacher told us about the counseling program open in the library all day, and if we needed to, we could go there to either talk to a counselor, talk to each other, or just stay there for whatever reason.
About half of us left as soon as he was done.
Dana and I stuck together on the way there, and when we got to the library, it truly was a sight to behold. Many people were there; crying, comforting, talking. All of Iona's closest friends were huddled together, just bawling their eyes out in the corner table. A counselor was talking to the more composed ones, – most of them being guys – nodding every once in a while.
It was there I found Sarah, and we immediately ran for the other, hugging and whispering "are you okay?'s" and "I miss her's". Sarah pulled me to a table with a few other people, including Dana, and there we all cried and shared stories about Iona and our own experiences.
We all stayed for second period, and when lunch came around, we ate quickly and without taste. Dana and I agreed to walk around aimlessly in the halls for third period, as it was supposed to be French – the class that we'd had with Iona – and we weren't sure we could take seeing the empty desk. I wanted to at least prepare myself beforehand.
Half an hour later, Dana and I decided to check out the French room. Madame Brooke nodded to us without a word, as did the few people actually present, and handed us a sheet to work on, but as soon as I sat in my normal seat and turned a little, catching a glimpse of Iona's empty desk, the dam broke once more. Dana wasn't too far behind.
We left soon after that.
Dana finally broke the silence. "Do you want to come to my math class last period?"
I regarded her slowly. Last period for me was gym. Iona had been in that class. Finally, I shrugged. "Sure. Mr. Fairbairn won't care, right?"
"Nah, he's cool." Dana responded.
So I did just that. Mr. Fairbairn was fine with me staying, and I took a seat beside Dana. A few more students trickled in, and my chest started fluttering when a certain one walked over.
Christian Gardner was a guy I'd had a crush on for quite a while now. He had messy dark brown hair and warm brown eyes, and wasn't too tall. His face had a bit of acne, and he was a little lanky, but he was nice and funny and an all-around great guy.
We'd met through Sarah, who'd introduced us last semester. He'd shook my hand and introduced himself as a "student today, billionaire tomorrow." I'd laughed and introduced myself back.
"Hey, Leah," Christian sent me a confused smile. "I didn't know you were in this class."
"Hey, Chris," I smiled back, "and only for today."
Christian nodded. He knew that Iona had been in my gym class. "How are you holding up?" he asked softly, opening his arms wide for a hug.
I stepped into his embrace giddily, "Okay," I mumbled into his shirt. "You?" he had had first class with her.
"I've been better," Christian said honestly. "Iona was a great girl."
I'd been doing a lot of thinking the past half hour or so, just lying on my bed and staring at the ceiling.
Life really was too short. Iona had committed suicide because she hadn't been happy. I knew I was lucky. I knew how privileged I was. Unfortunately, not everyone else had a life like mine. Even though I truly believed suicide isn't the answer, snide comments could be extremely hurtful. I felt guilty and disgusted with myself for believing some of the rumours; for judging Iona before I even really knew her.
I just based on what was on the outside. And I truly was ashamed for that.
I prayed for her that night.
"Chris!" I cried, breathless as I caught up to him the next morning. Christian turned at the sound of my voice, and I stumbled into his arms, hands on his chest. "Sorry," I blushed.
Christian laughed. "S'okay, Leah. What's up?"
I wasted no time, my mind set. "I like you." I blurted, hastily looking down before I could see his expression. Scuffing the tips of my trainers, I continued quickly, "I mean, I like you like you. And I understand if you don't like me back; it's just that I've been thinking a lot since yesterday and honestly, life is too short so I should take chances and live life and not care what people think of me – at least, the people I don't even know – and so, yeah. I like you." I blushed again.
A breathy chuckled came from above me, and before I knew it, a finger was under my chin and I was staring into Christian's warm brown eyes. My blush only deepened.
"Say it again." He demanded, grinning.
"Um – what?"
"Tell me again."
"Oh, um, okay." I stumbled over my words, averting my eyes from his. "I, uh, like you. And life is too short to –" I stopped when his lips descended on mine.
They were slightly chapped but soft, and moved slowly against mine. All too soon, he pulled away. "I like you too Leah," he said simply, "And I think you're absolutely right. Life is too short."
I felt lightheaded, but managed to beam at him anyway. This was really happening. Christian liked me, and it was all I'd dreamed of. Then a feeling of guilt settled in my stomach.
If only it didn't take all of this; all of Iona, to make it happen. To make me realise.
I looked up at Christian. "Chris… let's do something. Anything. We should remind everyone about Iona and spread suicide awareness."
Christian regarded me after a moment of thoughtful silence. "I know just the thing, Leah. Don't worry. She'll be remembered."
IMPORTANT AUTHOUR'S NOTE
So, this was just a thing pulled together in half an hour on a whim, so I'm sorry for all grammar mistakes and fast pacing and altogether sloppiness. I just needed to write this and get this out; get the message out.
Two nights ago (10/04/12), my classmate Morgan committed suicide. This one shot pretty much describes how I felt and what I did all day, and the library and stuff that happened. I didn't know her well, but she was in my French class, and when I saw the empty seat, I just started bawling. She did have a "Brace Face," the most amazing smile ever. It all seems so surreal, but it's true; it's happened, and she won't be coming back.
I do admit I judged her before I actually got to know her; all of us do that as well. But I've learnt my lesson. I can't say I will stop (sometimes it's just a knee-jerk reaction) but I will try my damned hardest, for her.
Morgan, if only you could have seen everyone today. How we were all crying and mourning and missing you, how much you are missed and loved. You were not alone. It did not have to come to this, but it did and it truly is a sad thing. I can only wish I could have gotten to know you better. Morgan, know that we all love you, and that we'll always remember you.
"Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem." If you are having thoughts of suicide, please, know that there are people that love you and that would be heartbroken if you left them. Know that life will get better. Know that there is always someone willing to lend an ear, a hand, anything.
I understand that I cannot possibly know what goes through some people's heads. But what I can do, I will do it. Including spreading the message around. There is always someone who cares.
Rest easy, Morgan. This one-shot, no matter how sloppy, is dedicated to you.