All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Author's note: This piece is meant to raise awareness about the effects of bullying, and hopefully it will touch a few people.
I honestly can’t give you the whole story. I’m still not totally sure about how my part in all this is important. What happened to her was awful, but I’m not sure if I can help you. When I think back on it now, it’s all blurry and the details go a little fuzzy. But I’ll try to do my best to remember for you guys what exactly happened.
It was my senior year. I was hanging around some pretty hard-core guys, you know, like Dan Henderson and Nick Bergen’s crowd. We did a lot of stuff I didn’t like, but hey, that’s high school peer pressure for you.
What type of stuff did we do? Hey, just cause we aren’t friends now doesn’t mean I’ll rat on them if you ask me to. I don’t wanna get any of them in trouble now, but I mean we just went around town causing trouble. Remember that smashing incident with Mrs. Ingle’s mailbox..? Well that was one of my so-called friends. We did other immature stuff that year, but nothing else worth mentioning.
When did I first see her? Oh, that was a while back. I was in english 4th period with Mrs. Branson, a class of almost all sophomores and then me. First day of school I walked into the class and there she was, surrounded by a group of her friends, talking animatedly. One thing I definitely remember was that she had a certain charm, a charisma, like you couldn’t help but be drawn towards her. One of her friends saw me, said a mean comment, and everyone laughed. Everyone but her though, I noticed, as I grabbed a seat in the back of the class, face flushed. I drifted off to sleep as the teacher began talking, so I’ll never know what I missed that first day in english class.
Yea, she was my friend. We all hung out in a big group at school, always together, never alone. But, come to think of it, none of us were ever invited back to her house or even dropped her off there. She always took the bus home and never stayed to hang out with us. Even when we took our Monday trips to the mall, essential to our survival in the monotonous week, she would always politely refuse and walk down the hall, her hair swinging over her shoulders.
We were both in english, science, and gym together. You’d think I’d know a lot about her, but the truth is, she was pretty guarded. I remember a while back we had to do a project in health class about our family, and she never completed it. She refused to present or even show the class what she had done, so she failed the project. I can clearly remember the resolute, determined look on her face as she sat there, defying the teacher. There was nothing arrogant about her, just something a little…different.
You want me to tell you about english class sophomore year? Umm... sure, okay. We were all in it, me, her, and everyone else. We had that witch Mrs. Branson. Sorry is it okay if I say that about a teacher? You’re not going to tell her I said that are you?
Okay, well anyway we were all sitting around talking and suddenly in walked Brian Hull, who is so stupid it’s actually funny. It made sense that he would be in our sophomore class as a senior! And after him came Mark Langley, the freshman nerd. All my friends were giggling, so I threw them what I knew they were searching for: a funny comment. “Wow, look at the retard. Did he finally learn how to read? And what’s up with those mama boy clothes Mark? Does she feed you too?” All my friends laughed, but she didn’t. She looked at me funny, as if she had just discovered a bad taste in her mouth, gathered her books and turned away.
Okay, I admit it, I was angry. What right did she have to snub me? I’m not proud of it, but I was involved with some of the rumors that were started about her…
Of course I heard the rumors. Everyone heard the rumors. Everyone in school was talking about her by the following Monday. I was walking with my buddies from the soccer team when I first heard what people were saying. I overheard someone saying she had gotten with two guys over the weekend, and they both dumped her. Someone else said she had to get an abortion. Even crazier, I heard people talking about how she had three STDs, and gave them to both guys. The next hallway, it was four guys she slept with, all in college. And it went on and on. As we walked through the school, the frenzied chatter was all about one thing: her. The only constant was an agreement that she was a slut, a whore, a tramp.
I tried to think back, tried to remember this elusive and seductive girl everyone was mentioning. The only one I could remember was a sophomore whom I had met in art class the year before.
I’m kind of a jock, so of course I had no friends or teammates in art class. The truth is, and I’ll deny this if you mention it, I enjoy art. That year I discovered that it was exhilarating to be able to create something exceptional by using something as ordinary as a pencil on paper. I never mentioned my love of art ‘cause I knew my friends would tease me to no end.
Anyway, so I was assigned to sit next to her and she was always very absorbed in her art. It was beautiful too; she created masterpieces out of simple pastels and did wonders with watercolors. I admired her art and the steady doggedness she acquired each time she began a new piece. We were both shy at first, talking only when required and focusing only on our art. But slowly we started to talk and discuss our pieces. It was really refreshing to meet someone who cared for art as much as I did. And soon our friendship developed into something about more than just our art pieces. We spoke about anything and everything in that classroom, comfortable with our trust in each other. Many arguments occurred between us, the result of two headstrong personalities always sure of their own opinions.
I tried to connect this cheap slut, concocted by rumors, with the beautiful, passionate girl I knew from art class. Nothing added up, nothing made sense, but I still stupidly believed those rumors. Maybe if I hadn’t, she would still be alive today.
I never did believe those crude rumors. I pride myself on being significantly more intelligent than those other buffoons I’m constantly exposed to in high school. They make cruel comments, figments of the imagination not to be believed. So it makes sense that I would be smart enough not to be sucked into that obviously fabricated world of lies and half-truths, aimed solely at the humiliation and degradation of a peer.
She and I were… acquaintances. Nothing more. Yes, I’m positive about that. We first met in english class, but first talked in the library at school, normally abandoned by the swarms of ignorant beasts who did not want to learn anything more than what was required.
I was walking in, preparing to take my customary seat alone by the back corner, when I first saw her. Her glowing russet head was bent over the table, obviously absorbed in whatever task she was tackling. Accustomed to my routine of solitude, I was disconcerted by someone intruding on my personal domain. As I stalked up to her in righteous indignation, about to demand my table back, I noticed she wasn’t working- she was crying.
Immediately I was unsure on what course of action to adopt next. Give me any problem from any math textbook in the entire school and I can confidently solve it. But I was not so adept at interacting and dealing with people and the problems they encompassed.
Cautiously, tentatively taking the seat next to her, I racked my mind for an appropriate condolence to articulate but found none. Finally, after what felt like hours of excruciating silence, I asked her what was wrong. After pointlessly awaiting her response, I began to research genetic modification, an extra assignment I had decided to do for my AP Biology class. I assumed that this was the only interaction we would ever have, and that the next day my chair would be awaiting me with my forever constant of isolation. But I was wrong.
Every time I went to the library after that bizarre day I would see her sitting at the table that soon became “ours”. In the beginning I assumed that one day I would arrive and she would simply not be waiting, however my expectations were proven incorrect as each day she was there, faithfully settling down for a calming few hours of solid work. The conversations at first were abrupt, awkward, stilted. We gently eased into a comforting cycle where being with each other was relaxing and we were content to work side by side. It was us against the world, I thought.
Gradually, in the course of a few weeks, I learned of the rumors about her, evidently the reason she was so upset that first day. Although I had the wits to disregard this malicious gossip, others believed it and shunned her as a result. As the stories got wilder, she began to spend more and more time in the library with me. Surprisingly her constant company delighted me, always steady and reliable. We never mentioned the wild accusations speeding around about her, or her recent and obvious loneliness. Fearful of angering her, I was perplexed on how to broach this obviously important topic. On the Monday that I finally plucked up enough courage to ask her, she never showed up at the library.
Throughout those weeks I continuously heard worse things about her. Looking back on it now, it seems that when one rumor died down someone just made up a new one to entertain themselves. My idiot belief in these lies can’t even begin to explain my actions or the rude things that spewed out of my traitorous mouth.
I was hurt, betrayed by the “true” stories about her and all these guys she constantly met up with. I really enjoyed those talks we had during art, enjoyed just being with her. With each passing rumor I grew more upset, and I dealt with that by becoming mad. After a few weeks, my silent anger swelled to the breaking point.
In art class that Friday I exploded, laying all my hurt and frustration on her. It was much easier to blame her for these malicious stories, much easier to yell than cry. I truly believed we had something together, a wish I thought she obviously did not share. I shouted some very cruel things at her that day, things that should never have been uttered. At the time I didn’t see her face crumple, then turn bleak. I never noticed her hands clenching at her side, the creasing between her eyes, the subtle tightening of her mouth. I never saw the resignation written upon her face as she registered that I, too, had believed the rumors. I didn’t notice these hints as I unloaded all my pain, making myself feel better as she felt worse. And when the final bell rang, I didn’t make myself watch as her pitiful figure sat, unmoving, as students left all around her. I left her there, staring down at the floor, all life drained from her face.
Everyone in school either shunned her or taunted her with rude comments. At first I reveled in the feeling of total power; I had created something that was talked about by almost the whole school. Soon though I began to feel a little, well, guilty. I couldn’t take back what I said; I couldn’t stop the rumors spreading without admitting my deceit. So I watched her trudge through days of endless torment with a conscience burdened by my shame.
Everything climaxed on that one fateful weekend. Sunday afternoon I hosted a cheerleading sleepover and all the squad came to foster team spirit. Anyone glancing at the group of us giggling and talking together would believe we were all best friends, just having a good time hanging out with each other. Our real personalities were so very different. We were all laughing only because we were making fun of someone. And everyone laughed, not together as friends, but to lessen their chances of being singled out and picked on. Our reality was deluded, cracked, distorted. As we made our way down our list of “friends” on facebook, cruelly discussing their flaws, I knew it was only a matter of time before she came up.
As if my thoughts had sent out a siren call, alerting the others of thoughts of her, the conversation switched from animated teasing to malicious anger. If I had ever considered one of them my friend, that assumption was far-gone by now. I couldn’t believe the horrible things they were saying about this girl who had supposedly been their friend only a short while ago, due to a few unproven rumors I had actually started. I saw how easily they scouted out and preyed upon any weaknesses, any faults. With this knowledge, I understood completely the realization that they were never truly my friends at all.
Knowing this, however, had no effect on that day. I should have thrown them all out of my house, angrily lamenting their disgusting behavior, and then called her up and befriended her. But that sort of thing only happens in the movies, and there was no way I was going to risk social suicide for this. I was so determined not to lose my popularity and position on the squad that I followed the captains’ instructions with no complaints.
They dared me to chat her on the computer, telling her all the offensive stuff we knew about her. I complied, typing those hateful words on the computer, forgetting there was a living person reading and absorbing it on the other side of the chat. If I could take it all back now I would, but words once entered into the computer are there to stay. It makes me physically sick to think now about what we said to her, the worst of which was ‘No one cares about you here in the world. Why are you still around?’ Without thinking of how she would feel, I clicked send and my venomous words disappeared. If I had known what would happen as a result, I would have never, ever clicked that seemingly harmless button.
I believe I was the last person to see her alive.
That Sunday I was riding the bus back from visiting my dad across city. It was raining hard when I stepped on the bus that depressing night. The sky was covered by a blanket of angry dark clouds, shouting their disgust at the world with every burst of thunder. The wet drops slapped my face, soaking everything as I groaned in despair. The bus arrived, my glowing savior in this dismal and miserable night. Shaking the water off my face as I walked to the back of the bus, I glanced around, looking at who was riding the bus. That’s when I saw her, curled up on the seat, hopelessly staring out the window at nothing. The look on her face was of total defeat, her dead eyes blindly looking, never seeing. There seemed no destination to her pitiful journey; she was going nowhere. Her image was so pathetic, so sad, that I almost got up to comfort her.
As I was about to stand up, I remembered the rumors about her. I had heard some pretty crazy things, and I didn’t want to get involved in whatever messed up thing she had done now. So I didn’t get up, I didn’t ask her what was wrong, I didn’t help her.
When my stop came, I swiftly got off the bus, not giving her profile a backwards glance. If only I had said something, shown her that someone cared, everything might have been different.
That Monday I waited at the library for an hour. As the minutes ticked by, slowly turning into hours, I was troubled by her absence. Never before had she missed our library session without warning, never before had I been so worried. Uncertain of her whereabouts but sensing something was awry, I remained at our table for what felt like an agonizing lifetime.
When the librarian had observed me lingering there alone for a considerable length of time, she walked over to inquire into my business there. I announced that I was only waiting for my friend. As I mentioned her name, the librarian’s eyes grew wide as she obviously struggled with what she was about to reveal.
“She is dead. She killed herself last night.”
With those simple words my world fell apart. I didn’t feel anything, not sadness or shock or whatever else I should have experienced. Mentally I had separated myself and floated above, watching the conversation between the librarian and my empty body. After attempting to jolt myself into consciousness by repeated pinching, I still could not accept the fact that this was real. How could it be real when I felt absolutely nothing?
I drifted through that day in a daze, forgetting to go to English class, not believing, not seeing, not reacting. It was as though I was standing, stationary, in the middle of a crowd containing the entire world passing by. Everyone around me was a blur; they were moving, still part of the world, while I stood immobile, alone.
I was in English class when I heard. The principal came into class, his normally crabby face twisted into a grimace of sorrow. While we looked on, wondering, he had a subdued conversation with our teacher. I knew whatever he was saying was devastating from the way her mouth formed a small O, the way she was blinking back tears, but I never expected what came next.
Speaking in a quiet, choked voice, Mrs. Branson told us all of her death and how she most likely had taken her own life. There were gasps and cries throughout the whole room. Some students cried obnoxiously while others seemed unaffected by the news. I stood someplace in between those two extremes, tears pricking the corners of my eyes. I struggled to breathe, sure that this was a joke, that it was not truly happening. But as I looked at the teacher’s grave face, dissolving in sorrow, I knew this was real.
Overwhelmed by my emotions, tears dripping down my face, I tried to gather my books to escape this room of death. Clumsy in my grief, I managed to knock most of them on the floor. Brian, looking as crushed as I felt, reached down and helped me pick them all up. After a mumbled thanks in his direction, I sprinted out of the classroom and into the closest bathroom. Once there I threw up, ridding myself of the acid that burned inside my stomach, but not the bitterness smoldering in my mind. I retched until there was nothing left in my stomach, until the sadness and guilt had abated a small bit.
When I looked at myself in the mirror, at my swollen eyes and wild, crazy hair, I finally realized that I didn’t like or even know the girl staring back at me.
Sitting in English class that day, I felt like someone had yanked the floor out from under my feet. My vision blurred and I gasped as if someone had just punched me in the stomach. I was spinning, tumbling down into an abyss of grief. Blinking back a few rebellious tears threatening to escape my closed eyelids, I refused to cry, refused to break down in front of my classmates. While my internal conflict raged on within, a heartbroken girl stumbled into my desk and dropped her books. Automatically, I began helping her, pausing when I realized that this girl was Erica, the same girl who had always made fun of me. The expression on her face mirrored my own so, connected by our common grief, I finished picking up her books.
As she ran out the classroom my sorrow slowly changed into anger. I didn’t know who I was angry at; I just needed to get rid of the turbulent emotions I felt inside. I stood up, shouting, and managed to knock over both my desk and chair before being controlled by the principal. Having released the bulk of my feelings, there was no danger of me crying, of looking weak in front of everyone. I walked to the principal’s office, and then to detention, still upset, but finally feeling something I knew how to deal with.
Art class was when I first encountered the devastating truth.
I overheard two freshmen whispering about it in the corner, about how a sophomore had been found dead, that she had killed herself, that she previously had been in this art class. Frantically whipping my head around the classroom confirmed what I knew in my heart to be true: she was not there.
Almost in a blind frenzy, I began to yell at these two while simultaneously shoving my work into my bag. I was shouting various things along the lines of that’s not true, why are you lying, you’re so stupid. When I couldn’t contain my tumbled feelings any longer, I knew I had to leave. I ran out of the classroom before anyone could see my tears.
I stood, visibly shaken, in the courtyard outside school. I shivered, freezing in the frosty air; all I saw were the dead plants, decaying in the ground. Was that all she was now, just something dead, lifeless, rotting? Angrily swiping at my traitorous tears, I just couldn’t believe that was true. Her uniqueness, individuality, kindness, compassion, all that was just gone? Snuffed out like a candle, melted down to a stub? I tried to wrap my mind around the fact that she killed herself, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t comprehend that the understanding girl I knew had taken her own life. Nothing made sense; everything was twisted and morphed to such an extent that I didn’t know what was real. Was this experience real? Was I really awake? What was happening to me?
Sinking to the frozen ground, my head in my heads, I finally gave in to my aching, throbbing heart and sobbed quietly, alone.
It was all my fault.
Why did I say what I did? Why wasn’t I stronger? Was I so weak that I needed others’ approval? My cruel and hurtful message obviously pushed her over the edge, setting off her suicide. How could I have uttered those mean words, said something that was so hurtful, and not realized how badly it hurt her?
No longer could I sit through an entire English class because I was always thinking about her absence. I constantly had to run to the bathroom and sit with my arms snaked around my legs, my body wracked with silent sobs. After that first day I always forced my finger down my throat, purging the guilt and shame from my body. That bathroom became familiar; it was the only constant I knew in my life.
My teachers grew tired of my continuous crying; although they pretended to understand, no one really knew the burden I carried, the guilt heavy upon my shoulders. I saw her everywhere; I’d catch a glimpse of her burnt red hair whipping past me in the hallway, her searching blue eyes winked up at me from every face I passed. Avoiding all mirrors big or small became a habit; the face looking back at me was no longer my own. Instead she stared back at me, accusing and unforgiving.
And through it all I had no one to talk to, no one to listen, no one to be a friend. The loneliness haunted me, crept up on me, suffocated me. Keeping my feelings, my blame, my anguish hidden, I crawled through those few weeks speaking to no one. Everyone looked through me, as if I had become invisible, irrelevant, unconnected from society. None saw the pain I hosted, the despair in my eyes.
I felt so alone.
It was all my fault.
Why did I wait until it was too late? I should have inquired about her problems much earlier. I should have told her she was beautiful. I should have told her that someone cared, that I cared. I should have said so much more that I regret not saying now. She only needed a friend, and I didn’t even make a pathetic attempt at trying to be one.
I walked home from school that day feeling nothing. I didn’t care if I lived or died. Striding down the road, I forsook the sidewalks in a fit of heedless rebellion. Who cared if a car battered me around this turn? Who cared if a monstrous truck angrily flattened me on this bend? I definitely didn’t. Finally arriving home after being totally unconcerned about my safety, I proceeded calmly to my room and quietly closed and locked my door.
Sitting on my bed, I couldn’t take the numbness that consumed me any longer. Spying the razor my mother had provided for shaving, I quickly grabbed it and slashed my wrists open. Once, twice, three times. As blood swelled out, there was a strange sense of relief accompanying the pain. Relief that I finally felt something, relief that I had found a method to deal with my pathetic self, to deal with the pain I refused to admit I had.
I cut myself a few times in those days after her death, each time waiting until my breaking point, until I believed I could not take one more breath and still live. I kept expecting the bottomless pit in my stomach to vanish, but I was constantly reminded of her absence by the gnawing pain I felt inside.
I felt so alone.
It was all my fault.
That day in art, how I wished I could change it! Instead of yelling, instead of blaming her for the hurt I felt deep inside, we could have talked about it together. We could have laughed off the pain together, solid in our knowledge of our friendship, of our love, no matter what was said. All she needed to know was that someone was there, that someone was listening.
When I stormed into art class that day, denouncing her and our friendship, I should have been able to see her slowly dying before me. I should have noticed her red-rimmed eyes, her hands clenched on the table, how she seemed so alone inside the bustling classroom. My churning feelings blinded me to her pain and despair; my quick temper killed her. I was quick to judge her based off of some stupid rumors, even though they never compared to the girl I really knew. I killed her. I killed her by not believing in her, by being the last person to give up on her.
All these thoughts constantly swirled through my mind; not a day passed that I did not think of her and feel deep shame and regret for my actions. When I felt too full inside I turned to art, painting my feelings, my deep sadness, away on a canvas. No matter how hard I tried the pictures were all of her, her face gazing hauntingly at me from the various sketches thrown around my room.
Constantly distracted by my guilty feelings, I soon lost my starting position on the basketball team; I missed baseball tryouts daydreaming about the time we spent together. My life, once full of sports, was now preoccupied by thoughts only of her. All the friends I once had were gone, since the only thing we shared was a love of sports, a love that now for me had turned into indifference.
All I wanted was just one more day with her. One more day so I could tell her all the things I had wanted to tell her since we met. I wanted to show her my love, how deeply I cared for her. But there weren’t any more days for us to spend together. All she needed to know was that I was there for her, and I didn’t do that. These thoughts consumed me, left me sobbing, by myself in my room.
I felt so alone.
It was all my fault.
That fateful day on the bus she was obviously upset, obviously hurting, and I just turned away. I ignored her, left her alone in her most desperate moments. What stopped me from talking to her, from comforting her? The trivial rumors of my classmates? Was I swayed so easily by the cruel words of others? I know firsthand the worthlessness others can instill in one’s brain. The only difference between us was that I learned how to build up my defenses so that the spiteful words no longer hurt, while she obviously couldn’t handle the pain.
I’m not as stupid as everyone thinks I am; I do have a brain, a soul, a heart. I realized early in life that people saw me as different or weird, so I played up that difference, changing my appearance to become a punk, a rocker. Looking tough on the outside helped me build up my guard, helped me to ignore the taunts of others. I could have shown her this, could have saved her life by telling her about my past. I could have shown her she was not alone in this.
Instead I walked away, leaving her with her problems, without anyone to help or relate to. I continuously dreamed about that moment when I got off the bus, willing myself with all my strength to turn around instead. Each time I woke up, gasping, sobbing, unable to fix the terrible mistake I had made. I was never able to go back to sleep afterwards; I stumbled around school in a daze. Every little thing made me angry; I blew up constantly at everyone around me. My friends soon left, unable to understand the grief and pain I was transferring through my anger.
During the days I wandered alone; at night I roamed my dream world with her. Consistently by myself, I grew certain that no one could truly know the hell I was going through.
I felt so alone.
Three months later, on the anniversary of her death, there was an assembly at school. Everyone was sitting with their friends, talking and laughing, the memory of this lively girl forgotten. Perching stiffly on the seat of my chair, I had not forgotten; I knew exactly what day it was. Struggling to control myself, my emotions tumbled in a confusing mess of sadness, guilt, and longing. When the lights dimmed I was relieved; there was no need for my façade of strength any longer.
As the first picture of her appeared on the screen, my heart started throbbing. As the music began playing, I couldn’t stop my anguished tears from escaping my closed eyelids. Lost in my grief, I didn’t realize that there was a guest speaker until I heard the polite response welcoming them. I opened my eyes and was totally shocked to see my English teacher, Mrs. Branson, standing there. Tears brimming in her eyes, she spoke in a quavering voice.
Listening to my teacher talk, I was taken aback by the thick guilt layered in her words. I realized she blamed herself, for not realizing how depressed she was before from her writing, from not intervening. I listened intently to the rest of her talk, absorbing every word she said, a salve on my guilty conscience.
The assembly was really moving for me. I felt like I could relate and connect with Mrs. Branson, who was speaking about suicide and our feelings about it. Crying before the music even started playing, I sniffled my way through the whole thing. Mrs. Branson focused on blame and guilt, how they were both natural feelings, not to be ashamed of. She continued on, speaking strongly about how suicide was never just one person’s fault, that going through life holding on to guilt only leads to an unhappy life. Listening to these true words, I was calm at last within my aching heart.
That was when I realized I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to be there, a safe place for others to open up to. By becoming a teacher I could touch people’s hearts, teach them compassion, help them heal from whatever hurt they encompassed. In this way I would keep her memory alive, by helping others who felt alone the way she did. This ambition gave me hope for the future, gave me hope that I could help prevent tragedies like this. For the first time since her death, my life seemed meaningful and promising.
The dreams about her continued until the assembly we had in her memory. Tears pricked the corners of my eyes when I saw her pictures, but I angrily swiped them away, grateful for the darkness. I spent most of the assembly waging a war for control of my emotions.
Looking around when the lights turned back on, I saw many faces of tears but only three others, beside Mrs. Branson, that exactly mirrored my own pain. Gazing at them, I wondered if it was possible that others had experienced the same hell I did, if others had blamed themselves too. Erica, the popular snobby girl, Jesse, who used to be a jock, and Mark, the class nerd, stared back at me, each with the same astonished expression I was sure must be upon my own face. We were all surprised to find others feeling the same guilt.
That night I waited for sleep to come, dreading the dark dreams of my past. But surprisingly they never came. I awoke the next morning feeling the most refreshed since her death, the first full night of sleep in a couple of months. As I lay in bed I thought about the day ahead of me, and I felt okay. Finally I was secure in the knowledge that I was no longer alone.
Everyone was at the assembly. After watching those heart-breaking pictures and listening to my teacher attempt to hold back her pain, I needed to escape, to get away from the fiasco that had become my life. I ran out of the auditorium and headed to the place where I had once felt safe: the library.
The smell of tattered pages, worn from many years of use, overwhelmed my nose. Running my fingers tenderly along their spines, I sighed, the knot in my stomach unraveling in this familiar room. Settling down in my chair, I began to open a book, ready to be lost in the comfort of an intriguing story. As I turned the page, however, a flash of gold caught my eye.
I looked up to see a girl, blonde hair glinting in the pale sunlight, sitting at a table, head bent over to hide her tears. As I watched her, I noticed the despair and sadness in her eyes. And without wasting another moment I walked over to her, asked her what was wrong, and just listened.