Good Day | Teen Ink

Good Day

July 30, 2013
By Inkheart78, Owosso, Michigan
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Inkheart78, Owosso, Michigan
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Favorite Quote:
“After silence that which, comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
-Aldous Huxely

Author's note: Well, I started to write this piece a few months ago when Teen Ink had asked for bullying stories. It took me awhile to build the characters, when I finally did, I had Edward James Holland. My heart was breaking for Edward, and I hope that those of you who read this story think about that quiet kid in the back row.

“Retard.” Jason snickered as threw a chunk of snow at my head. Let me rephrase that chunk of ice. It was never just snow or just paper, there was always something harder and more painful beneath the surface.

He missed but his friend did not, it hit me square in the gut. I gasped and fell to my knees. “What are gonna do about it, Special Ed, go cry to mommy?” I wasn’t in remedial classes nor was I in any way mentally retarded. My name is Edward, not Ed just Edward.

“My name is Edward.” I said weakly; I felt no anger I stopped getting angry long ago. But my name was still Edward and I thought that if they were going to beat the snot out of me they could at the least call me by my name.

“Do you think we care, Faggot?” Jason growled and kicked snow in my face, his friend Riley laughed and yanked me up by my shirt collar.

“Eddie, Eddie, Eddie,” Riley O’Connor sneered in my face his mouth twisted into a wicked smile, which slightly more resembled a baring of perfect white teeth, “You know you’re not supposed to eat the yellow snow.”

“What-,” he jerked around in time for me to see Jason relieving himself in the snow bank. I tried to run, I thrashed and kicked but they had me by both arms. Both boys had at least fifty pounds and a foot on me.
They were about to smash my face into a disgusting mix of snow and urine, like I was a dog who’d had an accident in the house. I was not a dog, I was so sick of being treated like one. Like less than a person.

So for the first time in my life with everything I had, I fought back. I yanked myself as hard as I could, so sure that I was free. My head flew into the icy, concrete there was a crack and then everything went black.

It was snowing outside, I loved watching it fall to the ground when the whole sky was white and it looked like the clouds were just floating down to take a long nap. I mean, the clouds just had to get tired eventually, being clouds all day and night.

“Edward, I don’t think you’ll have school today!” My mom knew I hated going to school, but strongly believed that it would only get worse if I didn’t go. She was wrong. “Alex, is going to come over, her mom has to work.”

I said nothing.
“Eddie, come on,” she walked over to the window I was sitting at and closed the blinds. Mom took my arm and pulled me into her lap. I was five at the time and in the first grade, “You can’t just sit there all day, bug,” her chin was resting on my head, “Alex will help you make friends. But you have to talk to her.”

I knew she was waiting for me to say something but I didn’t know what to tell her. That was part of the problem I didn’t like to talk. When you are in the first grade most people think that you never stop talking, and for the most part that is completely true for everyone in my class. Except me.

Another problem, I was different it doesn’t work when you’re five. All the teachers and parents tell you that being different is good and that you should open up and embrace your own being different-ness. Because, when you do everyone else will too, and isn’t that what we all want?

“Edward.” This was the voice that meant I had to say something and that if I didn’t I would definitely regret it.

“They don’t like me, she doesn’t like me.”

Mom sighed deeply and hugged me tighter, “They don’t know you, because you don’t talk to them.”

“I try to talk to them, they don’t wanna talk to me.”

Which was true, I didn’t try to talk to them very often when I did they never said anything back. Or worse they ran away, of course I didn’t tell Mom that. “Alex will be here soon, you should go pick out some movies to watch.” She scooted me off of her lap and went to find some movies.

Alexandrie “Alex” Owens was the daughter of my mother’s best friend, Cécile Owens, and therefore we were to be best friends. When we were three, I remember we use to play all the time outside and tell our mothers that we were going get married and Alex wanted six kids.

When Cécile heard this she smiled really big and wide and said, “Oh, Susie, I think we are a little young to be grandmas don’t you?” She giggled, “But if they have your boy’s eyes I don’t think mind!” My mom and Cécile fell into huge fits of laughter. I blushed, I’d never understood why people always said I had pretty eyes. It made me feel like a girl, I guess I kind of did have nice eyes, they were huge and blue like my mom’s.

After deciding on the, The Land Before Time, which is my favorite movie only because of all the dinosaurs, I ran to the kitchen. Where mom was making pancakes and bacon, also my favorite. Alex arrived.

She was and is the prettiest girl who’d ever lived, with bronzy brown hair and big brown eyes that were dark as coal but somehow warm. Alex also had this little speck of a freckle underneath her left eye which she absolutely hated, I thought it was cute. She also spoke French which is just really cool.

“Hi, Mrs. Holland,” Alex said smiling.

“Oh, sweetie, I hope you’re hungry!” Mom gave her a big hug, because she’s a hugger.

“Susan Holland, I can only be here until approximately 8:33 am!” It was 8:21 am, Cécile came into the kitchen. Mom says Cécile is like a tornado, she sweeps in and sweeps out. My dad said that she was just crazy.

“Edward, how’re the eyes?” Cécile smiled at me, she had the kind of smile that took up her whole face, but the nice thing about it was that it was never fake.

“Blue,” I said. That sent both mothers into hysterical fits of laughter. Which at the time I didn’t understand. Because, they were blue, “What?”

“Oh, nothing at all, ma chérie, nothing at all.” Cécile is from heart of Louisiana and her accent was as thick they came. Or maybe it’s not, but living in Traverse City, Michigan, it seemed very harsh.

I frowned, “I’m not a cherry.” Another fit laughter filled the kitchen.

The mothers drank coffee and talked, while Alex and I ate our pancakes in silence until at approximately 8:33 am- in a very tornado like fashion- Cécile swept out, kissing Alex on the cheek she said, “Être bon, ma belle.” (Be good, my beautiful.)

“Oui, Mama.” (Yes, Momma.)Alex replied.
“Why don’t you talk at school?” Alex asked me while drowning her pancakes in syrup.

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I think you do,” she said.

“Okay.” I said.

“I think you do know what to say, you just don’t want to say it.” She was looking at me with those eyes and pushing that bronzy brown, curly hair out of her face. Looking about as serious as a five year old can and expecting an equally serious answer.

I said, “Okay.”

Her eyebrows scrunched together. She looked up at Mom and form that day on my fate was decided, “I think he’s broken.”
I don’t think five-year-old Alexandrie “Alex” Owens meant to choose my fate for that was the beginning. Only the beginning.

I was eight years old and staring out the window in art class wondering when the snow would come back. It was May. Riley O’Connor sat behind me mashing the clay we were supposed to be molding into spheres, and throwing it at my head. His aim gets better as the years progress. I think Riley enjoyed torturing me. He did it so often that it seemed strange when he wasn’t, Jason Grieves was basically his wingman when it came to breaking things that were already broken.

I’m not the only kid they screwed around with there were quite a few of us. Us. It really isn’t a fair word to use because the other broken kids had better sense than I did, when it came to Riley and Jason.

He threw another chunk that hit me in the back of the neck, it felt like I’d gotten stung by a wasp. I touch the back of my neck and my hand came back with a little red patch of staining my index finger. Turning I looked back at Riley; he was smiling, and holding what appeared to be a pencil that was missing the metal eraser holder.

Riley and Jason got more creative with their pranks and “accidents” in middle school. Luckily, all seven of my classes were with them and with Alexandrie “Alex” Owens. I could never say that Alex and I became BFFS or anything the way our mothers wanted us to be. I can say that she always said something when they got too excited about making my life hell.

Even then I don’t think it really had anything to do with actually liking me. She liked to fix things that were broken and after dubbing me so when we were five. She always had one beautiful, dark, eye open for me.

I’m not a very fit person, I’m not over weight but under in fact. I’m extremely skinny and kind of short and always have been. So as you could imagine my life got harder when the whole physical education thing came around in middle school. Our gym teacher was the stereotypical gym teacher. Played college ball, thought he’d have a chance at pros and didn’t make it that far. So he teaches middle school Phys. Ed. Instead. Several times a week all my clothes would go missing or the lock on my locker would get switched with the smelly, fat kid’s.

In science class Riley and Jason made sure no one would ever want to be my partner. Well they really didn’t have to try hard, since they didn’t like me, no one else did either. I never wanted to go to school. I didn’t even really want to live. It was a hard thing to think that all these kids hated me and that they would go out of their way to hurt me. Whether it was something as small as throwing a note at me in class the exclaimed my “freakishness”.

Some say ignorance is key, for things like childhood, but the truth is it won’t make a difference either way. I know why there’s all this hate directed at me. And let me tell you, it doesn’t feel any better than when I didn’t know.

Susan Holland

I will always wonder what went through those boys’ minds. They hurt my baby, every day for kicks. Don’t they realize that boy they threw rocks at, that boy they made cry at the lunch table, that boy they pushed their own self-hatred, and pain upon, was someone’s baby? My baby.

Those teachers, oh the irony, the very people that proclaim to defend the world’s future generations from ignorance, are the most ignorant people I have ever had the misfortune of speaking with. I fought the school for Edward, I fought the parents of those boys too. Nothing I could would save him from this feeling of worthlessness he has for himself.

He stopped eating several weeks into his sophomore year. Then soon after he stopped talking. Again. If there was anyone to blame it was his father I don’t mean to say he was a bad man, but being in the military made it hard on Eddie. Some of those kids even made fun of him for it. Can you believe it?

When I got the phone call that Edward had had an “accident”. I knew right then that it was no accident. Arriving at the hospital was one of the scariest moments of my life. The waiting room was so quiet and calm. It was nerve racking, all of these people sit reading and drinking coffee, the nurses were teetering casually at the front desk. One asked my name and who I wanted to see.
I told her.
Her face grew sympathetic the moment she heard his name. As if everyone already knew, “Follow me,” she said. The nurse moved much too slow and acted much too calm for the situation that we were approaching.
I was brought into a small room and there I saw an image that made my heart stop. Edward was lying in a hospital bed with tubes coming out of him at varying angles. Gauze was wrapped around his head I could see red starting to seep through the bandages. His face was so swollen I couldn’t recognize him, red and purple surrounded what little bit of his forehead was visible.
“Doctor Murphy will be here in a moment,” the nurse said quietly from the doorway, “I’m so sorry, Ms. Holland.” By this point I’d pulled a chair up to his bed and was seated.
“Mrs.” I said more to myself than to her.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?”
“Mrs. Holland. I have a husband.” I do, somewhere out in the Middle East, doing important things to protect our country and the people in it, even the ones who terrorize his little boy.
“I’m sorry, oh here comes Dr. Murphy.” There were hurried footsteps and then an older man with graying hair was on the other side of the bed looking down at me with these pained eyes, as if he was always the one who came to give the sad news. The news that no wants to know, the news we try so terribly hard to avoid.
Tears filled my eyes, “Why isn’t he awake?”
Dr. Murphy pulled up another faded, yellow, polyester chair and sat down, “Mrs. Holland, Edward is in a coma. When his skull hit the sidewalk-.”
“His head hit the sidewalk? No one at that ridiculous school told me anything relevant!” They most certainly had not, the secretary told me he’d had an accident and was at the hospital. That school is only loyal to their students when they play sports, and have money.
Dr. Murphy looked at me with those same pained eyes, “They didn’t tell you anything?” He told all he knew about the “accident”, Eddie had gotten into some kind of “scuffle” with some boys and got thrown to the ground like a sack of potatoes.
“Is he going to wake up?” The golden question would Edward ever see the sunshine again, or walk, or laugh, or have the chance to be happy and young? He never was really happy, when he was three he was smiley and sweet, just the sweetest thing. Then I sent him to school, I didn’t think it’d hurt him, it was supposed to hurt the parents not the kids. But, look at us now.
The doctor rose from his seat, his eyes had the marks of aging, his whites were somewhat yellowed, and the creases were sagging over cloudy baby blues, “No, most likely not, Mrs. Holland.” The tears that had been slowly falling down my face, were now at high tide. My breathing was ragged, and my hands were shaking which made it difficult to hold his hand. I started weeping a little harder in frustration.
“Come back to me, Eddie. It’ll be worth it, I promise.”

Alexandrie “Alex” Owens
Wicked rumors, was my first thought, they would never do something that awful. Jason and Riley have always been jerks, but this was crazy. It had to be rumors they were always starting rumors about him.

He was such a quiet kid, they’d always been mean to him. Now, Edward was in a coma and they weren’t going to be reprimanded in anyway. His mother wouldn’t press charges, but mine might make her. Susan and Mama had always been best friends and it’s safe to say my mama is more of a spit-fire than his. They are really gentle people.

My mom came straight to my classroom with a trail secretaries following her trying to explain to her that she had to check-in first.

“Alexandrie, allons-y (come on),” my mom has this Cajun accent that is already hard to understand but when she is panicking it is nearly impossible, sometimes she’ll slur in French. Not Louisiana French, but French from France. She loves the language and majored in it in college, she feels like Creole is almost an insult to the language even though that’s where her roots are. At this moment no one can understand her. She was looking at me with tears in her eyes, “Ils ont besoin de nous.” Which means ‘they need us’.

I answered her in French, “Il est vrai?” It is true? I remember the last time she forgot English, it was when my dad had died. My mom was a total wreck, crying and forgetting to eat. She loves Susan and Edward so much, they are family.

“Oui, ma belle,” she cried. Mama has always called me, ‘ma belle’, it means ‘my beautiful’. The rumors were true, Edward was in the hospital.

“Mrs. Owens, what is going on?” asked a very confused looking secretary. She had her arm around my mother’s shoulders.

She began to explain in rapid French. The young secretary’s face grew more and more confused and looked at me for help. Looking at my mother, who was having this weepy scene in front of my biology class, for whatever reason made me angry. She wasn’t this crazy person she was making herself out to be.

“L’Anglais, Mama!” I snapped she stared at me, “You have to use English!” She gasped, and wiped her eyes, stood a little straighter.

“Alexandrie, needs to come with me now. There is an-,” Mom’s eyes began tearing up again, “Urgence! (Emergency)”, she was really freaking out now.

I sighed, “I’m so sorry, we need to leave now. It is an emergency.” I scooped up my books and took my mother by the arm. Walking down the hall way I sighed again, “Mama…” I explained that she would not be any kind of help to Susie if she was panicking like this, and would definitely have to speak in English when we got to the hospital.

I don’t know where these fits of hers come from, yes I understand that what is happening to our very good friends is scary and sad, but she does is this kind of person. This crazy, weepy, French lady. My mom is the kind of person who cools down, and uses her brain. Ever since Dad died she is just so unpredictable.

The drive to the hospital was short and silent, because I refused to speak in French and she refused to speak in English, not consciously but still. As we walked into the waiting room nothing seemed out of the normal, everyone seated and apparently ignorant of the fact that a teenage boy was nearly beaten to death.

I walked over to the front desk, “Excuse me, I’m looking for Susan Holland,” the rather unsympathetic looking nurse looked me up and down. Then, looked over at mother, who kind of looked like she’d been hit by a bus.

The nurse began clicking around on her computer, “Are you family?” Were we? We consider ourselves so, but would she?

“Oui, familie.” My mother interjected.
“L’Anglais, Mama.” English, I whispered sharply.
The nurse gave us one last dubious look, as she rose, “Follow me.”
She took us to a small room, several ugly polyester chairs were arced around a bed. Lying in it was a boy, gauze was wrapped tightly around his head, there were tubes going every which way out his skinny frame. Next to the bed was Susan with her head resting on the railing. Two hands beneath it holding on to the boy’s hand.
Mama walked slowly over to Susan, I followed behind her, and she kneeled down and put and arm over her shoulders. “Hey, Susie,” she said in a somewhat breathless whisper. Susan turned her head and stared at my mother. Susan looked so old, so much older than I’d ever seen, she smiled weakly.
They hugged each other tightly, I stood looking at Edward he looked smaller than normal in the bed. “Oh, Alex, sweetie, are you okay?” Susan was looking at me with big, watery, blue eyes.
I laughed a little, “I’m not the one who got the snot beat out of me. Is he alright?” He looked so peaceful, I guess I really never saw him sleep or anything maybe that’s how he always looked. But his face was just so relaxed, usually looked so sad.
My mother was crying again, and Susan was looking at me with this blank expression, “Eddie, is in a coma, Alex, he’s probably not going to wake up.” I know that my mouth was hanging wide open.
“Non, ce n'est pas vrai.” Tears were starting to cloud my vision, it is impossible, “Mama?”
Mama stood and came to me nodding sadly. “Il ne peut pas être!,” I cried, “Pourquoi?”

Edward James Holland
“Non, ce n'est pas vrai.” ‘It cannot be true’ said a voice. A pause.
“Il ne peut pas être! Pourquoi?” ‘It cannot be! Why?’ I knew that voice, that voice that belongs to the most beautiful girl in the world. Alex. I’d taken French every year since junior high so I could talk to her in her both her languages. But we really never talked all that much. What was she so upset about?
I’d been drifting for a while, I couldn’t tell you how long but it was nice. Not having to think about anything, just sleep. I did think about things though, not the things I would normally, but things. I thought about Alexandrie a lot. I never understood why she didn’t like her name, it was beautiful. It was her.
Drifting and drifting it went on forever sometimes I heard people, “Hi Eddie, can you hear me?” A sniffle of some sort, “It’s me, Mom. The doctors say you can. So, I’m just going to keep talking. I’m starting to like instant coffee. I know it’s crazy, right?” she laughed a little, “I’ve always hated the stuff…” Then I’d go back to drifting, and I’d wash up somewhere else.
“Edward, come on,” eight year old Alex Owens said dragging me by my boney wrist, up the snow hill. That was how it always was we weren’t best friends but when our mothers but us together we were. She always had the lead, dragging me wherever she wanted to go, and I was happy to follow. This time it was up a sledding hill out in the middle of nowhere. Alex loved sledding, I’d never been before she was more excited than I was.
“Edward, come on! It’s gonna be so much fun! Sledding is the best!” She smiled back at me, her mom had her all wrapped up in this gigantic coat with matching snow pants and boots. All purple, because that was her favorite color. Alex looked like a purple marshmallow.
When we got to the top of the hill, we both just stood a minute and looked around, it was snowing and blinding white, except for the evergreens that surrounded the little park. We loaded up into our sleds, “Push the ground, and go!” I did and I flew, straight down the hill, it was the most amazing feeling ever, soaring down the hill. The blinding light grew brighter, as I came to a stop.
There were voices, and shuffling feet, “Mrs. Holland, I know this is a difficult decision to make. But, it has to be done, how much longer would you like to keep Edward on life support?” Life support? I wasn’t on life support.
“How much longer? You mean you want to take him off?” Cried my mother. There was a ruffling of papers, and then.
“Susan, he’s been in this coma for months. His scans are showing less and less, brain function,” a sigh, “It’s just, maybe, you should start letting go-.”
“Let him go? He’s seventeen, I’m not letting him go! I have to go first, I’m the mom, it’s my job.” Heavy exhaling.
“Susie,” someone said in a very familiar accent, “maybe you should start to think about it, do you really want him living off of a machine his whole life?” It was Cécile. I’m not on life support why was everyone freaking out about it?

“Cécile.” My mother said with this edge in her voice I’d never heard before it was almost scary. My mother is such a sweet woman, but beneath the surface she is steel.

“Susan, we won’t take him off without your consent, just start thinking about it.” The man speaking had this papery voice, weathered almost, he was old.
A dry chuckle, “Oh, yes, Dr. Murphy, I will get right on that. Thinking about killing my son.” Several, slow and steady footsteps took place.
“Susan, I know how you feel, it seems impossible but please believe it.” A deep sandy papery breath, “He might be better, in another place.” Burdened footsteps and then silence.
“Let’s go get something to eat, if in all my years of livin’ down south, taught me anything, it’s that good food heals all wounds.”
“Are you saying that a bowl of gumbo is going to fix my son?”

A sigh, “No, honey, everything is easier to handle if you have food in your tummy.” There were food steps and then silence. I was in a coma? I also lack brain activity? When did this happen?

Suddenly another person was there, “Edward, it’s me, Alex,” I know who it is I know it’s you, I could almost smell her perfume, and “You have to wake up. Please, Edward, wake up.” She must’ve moved closer, she was speaking softer now. “I guess talking isn’t working, that’s all we’ve been doing, and to tell you the truth I’m starting to feel kind of crazy.” You’re not crazy, you beautiful, beautiful, French girl.

“Don’t laugh at me,” she took a deep breath and sighed, “Frère Jacques, frère Jacques, Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous? Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines! Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.” I felt myself smile, she used to sing that little song all the time when we were kids. “Do you remember? Brother John, Brother John? Are you sleeping, are sleeping? Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing! Ding, dang, dong-.”

“Ding, dang, dong.” I finished for her, she gasped, my voice was weak and I couldn’t see anything, until Alex tore the bandages away from my eyes, the light was blinding. “Bonjour.”

Alexandrie smiled that big, beautiful smile, I never thought she’d use on me, “Good day.”

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