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I looked left to right and held my breath as I ran across the yard. Stumbling up to the window, I released the air I had been holding in my lungs and pressed my hands against it. I pushed up with undying hope and climbed through as painful memories flooded my discombobulated mind. I closed the window once more and walked slowly across the hardwood floor, as I had done numerous times before. The door came up quicker than I had expected as I started down the narrow hallway.
I grabbed the doorknob with a shaking hand and froze for a moment; perhaps two. A small voice in the very back of my mind was speaking to me. “Don’t go in,” it said with a tone more frightening than my own voice would have been at that moment. I longed to listen. I longed to turn around and head into the direction from which I had come.
My mind said no; my heart said yes.
I took in the deepest breath I ever had in my fifteen years of life and held it as the door swung open in front of me. I dropped my hand and looked around before I stepped inside. I flipped on the dim light and opened my frightened eyes. Everything looked the same as it had the day before. There was only a single thing missing.
“You shouldn’t be here,” whispered the voice. My ear tingled; a shiver ran down my spine, as if a stranger had touched me shoulder with the very tips of his fingers. I bit my lip and swallowed a shriek of fear as I ventured further into the room.
I went to the desk and gazed at the papers lying there. I was afraid to touch them, for what would I find? I bent down to look closer. All that I saw were familiar little sketches on unfinished homework assignments. I turned away from them and bit my lip even harder.
I turned to the bed in the corner. All of the sheets and such had already been stripped from its frame and were gone; long gone. I took several hesitant steps toward it and lightly touched the palm of my ice cold hand to the surface. I clenched my left fist and turned away from the emptiness.
The first thing I saw once I had turned around was myself. I gazed at the reflection and stood still for longer than I should have. I examined every inch of what I saw. Even I could see the determination in my eyes. I knew there was more; underneath such a driven gaze was a sea of pain. But I refused to acknowledge that it was there at all. Instead, I simply moved on.
“There has to be a way,” the voice whispered again. I went to the dresser drawers and opened them one by one. I found clothes I had never seen before. I carefully unfolded one T-shirt and marveled at how familiar it seemed. And then, as if I had never touched it, I put it back.
The final drawer I opened was stubborn. I was forced to pull the entire thing out of the dresser to view its contents. Piles of wrapper-coated junk food spilled from its overflowing depths and onto the floor. As my mouth began to water, my face grew hot with anger. I remembered stumbling across such a stash before.
“Something else,” I whispered to myself. And I attempted to stuff all of the bags and containers back into the drawer, but they would not fit. Frustrated, I overturned it completely. All of its inglorious contents spilled onto the carpeted floor.
One bulging bag of potato chips caught my eye. Coated in various colors of duct tape, it seemed as if the chips inside were toxic; deadly. I returned all the rest of the containers and things to the drawer and slid it back into its place. The rainbow chip bag remained on my lap.
I ripped open the once-sealed bag and opened my eyes. The sight before me caused my jaw to drop helplessly to the floor. I found myself unable to move, staring at the contents of the bag in disbelief.
The voice whispered again, but I refused to listen. Despite the sound of a slamming car door or two just outside the window, I plucked the piece of paper from the inside of the bag and opened it slowly, reading its contents with a rapidly pounding heart.
I took the evidence in my arms as the words bore through my brain and ran as fast as I could. I climbed through the open window of the empty house and ran in the opposite direction of the mob of vehicles. The words of the note I held in my arms began to haunt me from the moment I rounded the corner.
If you continue to keep your secrets as you kept mine, you will meet the same fate as I have. You won’t be able to live with yourself any longer. And you will do anything to end it all.
I became out of breath by the time I was out of sight of the cars and fell to my knees on the concrete sidewalk. I refused to believe that the words were really, truly there. It did not make sense. There was no way that she could have known I would find them.
I violently jammed my hand into the bag and pulled out the piece of paper, wincing as bright red drops of blood dripped onto its plan white surface. I read them over again and over once more. And at last, as I could find nothing else to do, I wept.
“Why?” I screamed to the cold air surrounding me. “Why did you leave me?”
I pressed my cheek against the sidewalk as I heard footsteps. It was all over now, I knew.