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Like Shakespeare's Tragedies
“Sassie!” my mother yelled, trying to make sure I could hear her over Owl City. “There’s a boy here to see you!”
I turned off my stereo and ran down the steps, hoping to see Jake standing at the bottom, waiting for me. He’d been in Iraq for nine months and it was about time for him to come home. He hadn’t written back to me in what seemed like forever. I was so worried, until I ran down those steps towards the love of my life with a big geeky smile on my face.
When I saw him walk up to the side walk, I first confused him with Jake; they both wore a uniform and all that and I wasn’t paying well enough attention. But then I saw his grim, gloomy face as he told me that he had a message for my daughter, Cecilia. I called Sassie down but didn’t tell her it was a Messenger, not Jake. What a horrible mistake I made. She bounded down the stairs, waiting to see her one true love. When she got there, she heard and saw more than she ever bargained for.
“Ms. Cecelia Grage?” the man asked me. He winced as my smile faded away; he knew he was unexpected.
“Yes?” I replied, hoping that the mail carrier had just not been able to send anything off and this Messenger held a note from Jake, not a letter filled with news from the United States government.
“I’m so sorry,” he began, and sobs were immediately wrenched from my throat. He continued as I cried, “Your boyfriend, Jake Aims, was killed in battle. His plane was shot down in an attack from the opposite forces. Please take comfort in the fact that he died valiantly, fighting for our country.” The man hesitated a moment, his countenance explaining to me what he could not say in words, before bowing his head and walking out of the door. I couldn’t breathe. Mom was on the floor next to me, saying something. But I couldn’t make it out over the pounding in my head and the ringing in my ears. The last thing I remember is the living room ceiling.
I should have told her it wasn’t Jake. I know that now. As I sat next to her, stroking her hair while the tears arose with the strangled screams, I couldn’t help thinking that she might have been more prepared for this if I had told her it wasn’t him. It was my fault.
“Sassie, baby, calm down,” I said softly. “It’ll be okay, everything’s going to be okay. I promise.”
My consoling didn’t seem to be helping, so I carried her up the stairs, as much of a feat as it was, and laid her down in her bed. I tucked the covers around her and kissed her forehead and let her cry herself to sleep. I tried to make myself busy around the kitchen, washing plates that were already clean and wiping away spots that didn’t exist on the counter.
When I walked into the living room, I just happened to look out the window and see the Messenger again. He knocked on the door with a huge smile on his face. I was extremely angry; how could he tell my baby girl that the man of her dreams was dead and then come back and smile about it?!
“What do you want?” I asked him, opening up the door. “My daughter just cried herself to sleep, can’t you see you’ve caused enough trouble already?”
“I’m sorry madam, but it seems I’ve made a mistake,” he responded, still smiling.
“A mistake? What are you talking about?”
“Jake Aims is not the man that was killed. Your daughter’s love is still alive!”
At first I didn’t know what to make of this. I was in shock, having just been told that Jake wasn’t coming home again, and now being told that he wasn’t even dead. I sprang up the steps to wake up Sassie as soon as I could. But what I saw in her room was far worse than what I felt when I thought Jake was gone.
The blankets were thrown onto the floor, curtains were ripped from there hangings, clothes were all over the room and items were knocked out of her drawers to lay on the ground. It was clear that she’d had a meltdown. But what was extremely shocking was Sassie’s body, lying on the bed, with a knife in her stomach.
I screamed out and covered my mouth in horror. My baby girl had killed herself. She was gone, forever. It was over and I was alone. So painfully alone. How could this have happened? What was I going to do? How would I live knowing that one person could have made a mistake that big, big enough to kill a nineteen-year-old girl?!
There was a piece of paper lying next to the knife, with Sassie’s pretty cursive handwriting on it. It said: “Dear Mom, I’m so sorry. I’ve failed you. I can’t be happy when Jake is gone. I can’t stay in this world knowing he’s never going to be with me again. Don’t cry for me Mom, you’ll see me again someday, I promise. Be happy that I’m going to be with my love, my Jacob. With All My Heart, Sassie”
The irony of it all was like one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. I heard the front door open and close and then a familiar voice rang through the silent house.
“Sassie? Sassie?! I’m home, my love, I’m home!”