It's about the 'one comment thing.' The ones that make you lose control. And everyone else around you takes the heat. It takes one word occasionally, just to get you going, and when the next unfortunate soul says one small thing, you simply explode. Perhaps it's just the simple remarks that keep adding up all day and you think you can sleep them off that night. But the ones that stick- the cruel ones from the person with the demeaning glint in their eye- they sometimes thrust you right over the edge and, just sometimes, you can't get back up again. Those words can be good or bad, really. Other times, comments can lift you off your feet- you soar through the clouds.
That's what this story is about. It may not be the fantasy, horror, maybe even dystopian story you were hoping for.
But it's certainly something.
Maybe because it begins with such a depressing subject that it's been hard for me to get my gripping on this story— white knuckles, sweaty palms— death was never my thing. I sometimes feel myself slipping, and so I'd like to get this over with; get it onto paper. And perhaps this will be lost in the archive of all my other stories— though not also about suicide, I assure you— and maybe ripped to shreds by my mother, or maybe even my father. As long as it was here, I know it was once a tangible concept. That is all I need.
I figure it'll take me awhile to figure out where to start. It could be the day I spilled the pills onto my palm— but then you wouldn't know why, and about us.
And let me get something straight, here. I needed everyone to know that I was in no way the typical nerd everyone picks them out to be. Thick broken glasses. Carry around a heavy dictionary. Straight A students. There are stereotypical people out there, everywhere, laughing at the high school kids with thick glasses.
Because I was in no way, by any stretch of the imagination, the 'nerd type'.
Perhaps I was somewhat antisocial. People never would have known if they had simply ignored the ninth grader sitting in the back of the cafeteria every day, alone. The whole table was empty. I never talked to anyone, and so maybe that's why I never met anyone there, except for the bullies. I never gave anyone eye contact, but they didn't want to either, and perhaps that is why no one came near me. Maybe people tried to talk to me. But conversations involve two sides, and I was never much into enveloping myself in their words, filling in the blanks.
And so that was what I finally found out was the barrier between me and friendship.
I think I might have skipped something along the way. I get carried away sometimes. Ah, yes; me. You should probably know who I am. Well, more of what I look like. Let's see.
Most of the time there is a smirk in the smile I force myself to wear. The grin doesn't come out often, so my mother takes what she can get. Just so you don't think I am some beautiful 16- year old girl, unjustly tormented at school, I'll tell you all the facts.
The truth is this: I am not much to look at. And it's not that I'm ugly. It's that my natural blond locks curl up like the girls at the high school. The reason they effortlessly bullied me is because their bleached hair had been put through several hours a day worth of curling. My cobalt eyes come from a trait my mother passed down to me; not contacts. They harass me because I am not artificial. They try so hard to make a show; they need to terrorize someone at school to gain affection from bystanders. And sadly, these high school girls feed off of these incidents.
Honestly, sometimes I actually make myself believe that they are lonelier than I am. Because sometimes, being alone is not the same as lonely.
You must be verging on boredom, and I am sorry for that. I never was a great writer; but I wrote stories anyway, to fuel my mind, to get me thinking. I figure I'll skip around a bit, to try to near our conclusion. So let me introduce Brady.
He was a strong boy. He held a cap of dark brown hair, shining like chocolate. He was always top of the class; whether in algebra or in gym. He befriended many people, quickly, with a glint in his kind green eyes. It was fortunate for him to enter my life, and at such a time.
The boys at my school had watched my clumsy retreat from my locker, and my hasty approach to the front doors. Following, they stripped me of my backpack, throwing both of us to the tiled floors. That was when the fifth boy in my clouded vision appeared, and, lo and behold, he spoke to the boys. Not the smartest idea; it was followed by a punch to the face, and Brady lay sprawled on the ground. The hall was deserted aside from us. I picked myself up, grabbed my backpack, and sprinted for the doors. I ran outside and flew behind the brick wall, clutching my supplies to my chest, breathing hard. Brady appeared next to me before I knew it, grabbing my hand and yanking me forward, past the school building. The bitter wind chipped away at my skin, its teeth piercing. The boy threw his jacket around my shoulders and placed a hand on my shoulder, lowering me to the ground. We sat huddled like that until I broke the silence.
"Why would you do that?"
His gaze slowly found mine and he stared at me defiantly. "Why do you let them hurt you?" He was asking the question I dreaded. And he asked it with such bare honesty. "Why don't you let anyone try to help?"
"Because no one has ever tried to." I responded, brushing his thin coat from my shoulders and stooping to pick up my backpack. I raced along the fields behind the school, towards my parents' apartment. I could hear Brady's feet crunching on the frosty grass behind me. He sprinted to catch up, his breath like mist in the chilly air. "What are you doing?" I asked him.
He never answered my question. And he never did for all the years I've known him. The boy only said, "Don't your parents know about this?"
I gave a short laugh, stripped of all humor. "When my father's sober he's never home and my mother is doing everything she can't do when he is home." I gave him a short silence to think on this, still walking fast. "She reads, goes to the movies. When my father is home, he screams, hits, and drinks. My mother cries in her room because she can't make him stop. He makes us clean, and cook. Do you realize this is the most I've ever said to anyone?" We were right behind my apartment when he took hold of my elbow and steered me to the left. "What are you doing?" I asked it again.
He stopped me right there. He looked me in the eyes. He told me about how let everyone bully me. He told me, "It is the worst possible thing you can do with your life. Don't let them hurt you." And I have never forgotten it since.
Brady knew most of the story of my life. It began with my parents; he knew about them. In a way, my mother was also part of the problem. And then I was haunted with the students from school. It was non-stop, relentless. He often witnessed these scenes. I often felt too fed up with my life. Sometimes it became too much, and I shut myself in my room and cried. That I would never tell. The tears streamed down my face until I couldn't cry any longer.
I often thought of suicide.
It was never a first resort. I never attempted it. But it was always there, always an option, always, constantly, floating around in the back of my head.
And then Brady popped up. Let me tell you, I have received a boat load of negative 'one comments' before; never a positive one, and absolutely never one quite like the one Brady gave me, "the worst possible thing" comment. It kept on running through my mind, forcing me to listen, think about it. He saved my life. He crawled through my window.
I was in my room on a Saturday night looking through history notes. The lights were dim, most of the light bulbs long since lit, my parents never bothering to replace them. I sat cross-legged on my bed, head bent over a worn-down textbook, eyes scanning over the words I would never read. Then a word popped out of the canvas of blurry black, a word that had never stood out to me more.
The word was death.
And that's what drew the line. That's what drew the tear from my eye; it plopped onto the page, blurring the words, dribbling down the paper. I peeled my fingers away from the page, stripped myself from the bed sheets, and strode forward, leaving my textbook sprawled on the ground behind me. Fingering the thick rope, I looped it into a circle, testing its strength. Would I really have to use it? Would I tie the knot? A sharp banging brought the answer quickly and swiftly, from right through the crack underneath the door.
I didn't want to live in this life any longer.
And then- it was all ready. All I had to do… should I? It was the biggest decision I had ever made. Thoughts swirled inside my head like a thunderstorm, knocking against my brain, making me dizzy.
Only one thought was having a hard time surfacing. It struggled in the back of the bunch- it was out of sight- and yet I knew it was there; somewhere. And with that shadow came a word- Why? And the worst possible thing.
He was lifting himself through the open window. A breeze filtering through softly, slowly, warm on my face, my hair blowing back behind my shoulders. That's nice, I think. The boy is standing straight now. His hair is wavy and looks lopsided on his head from the climb. I think, he climbed the house to see me. Brady is staring. It takes me a little while to realize a noose is clutched in my hands. White knuckles, sweaty palms. I recognize I never wanted to die.
I see him starting to speak.
I fully understand he saved my life with his words.
They made me hesitate, and that was worth everything.
Before he can get out a word, I've thrown myself into his arms. I am finally enveloped in his grasp. It'll take me awhile to fill in the blanks.
"Thank you." I speak into his shoulder. Tears dribble onto his thin shirt. I'll have to explain to him later. I remember my father at the door. Was that just a minute ago? He's listening in. I hear his footsteps outside the door.
He hears me talking- does he recognize my voice? He's walking away. Heavy thuds against the staircase. I look up at Brady.
The boy pulls me to the window. We leave the scene. A dark, spooky night.
Sparkling stars. Beautiful silky sky. Night like velvet.
The air is warm; a soft, sleek breeze.
I'm racing away from my house in the night with a boy who saved my life.