Life is heavy. It weighs me down and pins me down and drags me down and keeps me down. It's the drag in my feet, the slump of my shoulders, and the insistent frown on my lips. Some days I find it hard to move outta bed. So some days I don't get up.

Leaving middle school, my eyes were wide and frightful that the circling vultures walking the halls would eat me. Freshmen year, for eight hours, I never blinked. I never missed the hissing snakes and snarling baboons and creeping wolves. I never turned my back, not even on the sheep and rats I hung with. It's a shame, considering when I look back how obvious the real threat was. I was too busy watching for danger at school. I never worried about the people at home, alone behind locked doors, trailing their fingertips slowly down their wrist or holding empty guns to their heads and shaking as they pulled the trigger. It wasn't a concern. I didn't even know. I didn't pay enough attention. It was just something I never imagined I'd worry about, because there are just some things in life that felt like absolutes. I attended my uncle's graduation, surely he'd attend mine. What will my grandpa wear at my wedding? Should he walk me down the aisle? He did raise me. I was at school when my uncle died. I remember I laughed when my parents told me, thinking it was some sort of bad joke. And they laughed too, playing along, their tear rimmed eyes hidden from me.

I remember the feeling of my other uncle, Darren, hugging me. His jittery hands, his quick tug of my shoulders, my face smashing against his chest, his strained breaths, and his skinny, leaking tears that he felt comfortable shedding above me in the dark of night.

I remember I stopped laughing. And smiling. And feeling.

Several things had become absolutes in my life prior to the death of my uncle:

1. I was bisexual.

2. I was in love with my best friend.

3. I didn't know my real father, nor did I want to.

4. My uncle was the closest thing I had to a real brother.

5. My grandpa was a father to me.

My wide-eyed and cautious dance had failed. I had failed. We all had. At fifteen, I'd felt blood on my hands. It was almost like I'd been the one who pulled the trigger.

Life's funny that way, and heavy too.