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She is stunning even when she’s dead. The whistling December wind forced its way through my head, leaving me with a dazed and empty feeling. Her pale pigment possessed the ability to bruise beautifully, blossoming into soft blues and violets, stretching themselves around her breathless throat. The deep crimson, seeps out of the open gashes across her frigid limp body, creeping further away as if trying to escape its own death. The growing pools scream at me with excitement and thrill, the cuts from which they spill from dance along her ribcage in a rhythmic pattern, taunting me. Her skin is tightly stretched over her timid structure, making her shell gentle and frail, as if one touch would shatter her into a million little pieces. Her finger tips are curled into themselves, scared by their own length. Her cheeks, normally pink filled with laughter and life are now colorless and sullen, except for the precise slits running from the corners of her mouth to the start of her ears, forcing their permanent happiness upon her otherwise solemn face. As her glazed eyes gaze into the abyss of the brisk afternoon skies, I feel calm, and okay. My subconscious has yet to make connections between my eyesight and brainwaves to process the scene before me. Then, I start to panic.
It is the middle of October, almost three whole years since my brother’s death in the car accident at the intersection of Alpine Avenue and Saturn Way. He was in his black Oldsmobile 88; it was his baby. It still sits silent in our driveway, patiently waiting for him to come home for a Sunday drive.
We were closer than most siblings. Sure we fought occasionally, but he always protected me; he always watched over me. I looked up to him in a lot of different ways, and he never let me down. He was so incredibly kind-hearted, even if it meant being a friend to the unpopular kids at school. He was liked by everyone, tall and attractive, never able to walk by without gossip passing between nervous high school girls in loud whispers, making his beautiful presence known. Sometimes I come up with conspiracy theories in my head, about how she was just so jealous of his overall wonderful personality that she killed him purposefully. I know she’s just another reckless teenager, but sometimes reasoning it out in my head makes me feel better. Life’s funny that way. You never really move on when you lose someone you love, you just find a new normal.
I am with Susan, my best friend. We are going to the movies with James and Robert to see Jailhouse Rock , starring Elvis Presley . Oh I do love his music and I can’t wait to see him in the film. Anyways, it’s kind of a double date, even though both boys clearly want to be with Sue. She couldn’t choose so she suggested we all go. She hits the bottle just about every month to maintain her Marilyn Monroe -esque hair. She adores Marilyn, idolizes her. She stands about 5’ 2”, the perfect height for fancy pointed pumps on dates and such. She’s not only lovely to look at, but she’s decently kind, often called a ‘sweetheart’ and a ‘doll’ by anyone who meets her. She’s smart. She’ll probably win prom queen too. She gets any boy she wants. She’s that girl. She has that life. She’s perfect. She is my best friend. She killed my brother in that car accident three years ago.
James and Robert pick us up from my house at 6 for the 7 o’clock show, in James’s teal souped up Eighty-Eight. It stings a little to get in the car because it reminds me of my brother and how he was such a neat freak when it came to his car. I’d help him clean the inside just about every other week. The interior smells of cheap perfume, probably from all the different girls James goes with. Before I’m even settled in the back seat next to Robert, Sue and James are playing back seat bingo up front. Robert starts to get jealous and slaps James in the back of the head, “Come-on, let’s go!”
“Oww! You’re really cruisin’ for a bruisin’ buddy!” James retorts playfully. I just sit quietly and light a weed , silently observing the car’s interior. “Nancy’s havin’ a big bash at her house since her old man’s gone for the weekend, so me and Robert were thinkin’ we could skip the flick and head over there.”
“James! I thought we were gonna go see Jailhouse Rock!” whined Sue.
“Alright, alright, cool it baby, don’t have a cow , it was just an idea. It’s invite only so we figured there’d be a bunch of cool cats there we could hang with, that’s all, but just ice it .” James reasoned.
Susan thinks about this for a moment, “Okay,” She finally says, twirling one of her bleach blonde curls around her perfectly red polished fingers, “as long as we can stop by Doug’s Market on the way to get a slurg before we go.”
“Yes! We’re gonna have a blast! We can split whenever you want dolly, just say the word. I owe you for this one.” Says James half grateful, half already high on his own excitement. As he revs up the car engine, no one bothers to ask how I feel about going to Nancy’s.
After slurgs at Doug’s, we pull out on to Arch Street and speed by the heat, parked on the side of road. It’s strange that they are on Arch Street tonight, when you can usually find them on Alpine Ave. Sometimes, when I see the man parked on the other side of Alpine, I can’t help but think that they wait for accidents ever since my brother’s. They just sit there and wait for careless, distracted kids, just out burning rubber for fun, until someone decides to be reckless and put everybody else in danger. Maybe they don’t choose to be reckless; I’m not sure, but it never leads to good.
Nancy has a lot of bread, or at least her father does anyway. When we pull up to her house, it’s big and beautiful, like something you’d see in a Hollywood film. All the houses in the area are nice, but hers is by far the most elaborate, with its giant white pillars racing up to the sky and its long shiny windows giving the outside world a peek into its flawless lifestyle.
The bash was fun, even though there weren’t many people there. Sue spent most of the time making out with James while I wandered around the place, just watching time float by. As things wound down, everyone started to leave. James was a little drunk and so was Robert, but Sue and I couldn’t drive, so Robert decided he was okay to. He drove incredibly fast, running red lights and making two wheel turns every which way. I was scared. James and Sue were in the back. He was half asleep, as she mumbled sweet nothings to him. Just as Robert blew through a stop sign, Sue couldn’t take it anymore. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one concerned about his driving. “That’s it! You can’t drive like this!” She yelled at him.
“Ain’t that a bite.“ Robert whined back in a mocking baby voice.
“At this rate, we’re all going to die before we hit Norman Street! Get out! I’ll drive!” Sue continued to protest his driving skills.
“Oh that’s a big tickle baby,” Scoffed Robert. After about 15 minutes of arguing on the side of the road, Robert finally let Sue take the wheel. Sue was now in the driver’s seat, with me in the passenger’s side and the boys in the back. Once again, we were coming up on Saturn Way. I felt the knot in my stomach tighten. She killed someone the last time she drove through these streets. These short streets that seemed to extend for miles, crossing and weaving in and out of each other, taunting me, with their narrow white guidelines and sharp swooping turns. I knew it wasn’t the streets fault. I couldn’t blame the pavement. No, this was caused by much more than the cold lifeless cement that lay beneath the tires. It’s her fault he’s dead. If she would’ve been the slightest bit more careful, I’d still get to go for Sunday drives with him in the black Eighty-Eight. And now, every time I cross this intersection, I make a leap of faith, in hopes there isn’t another Susan driving perpendicular to me. This has to stop. I can’t do this.
When we get home, Susan decides to spend the night at my house. “Let’s go for a walk, it’s still nice out, and we won’t be able to do this in a month or so.” I agree with her, and we start down the side walk. We pass Mrs. Boldt’s house with the faded picket fence, down to the open field where the neighborhood kids practice baseball. “Did you have fun at Nancy’s?” She asks, seemingly genuinely concerned with my ability to enjoy myself at social events.
“Yeah,” I lazily reply with a yawn staring up into the starless navy sky. I am tired. I’m not only physically tired from this excruciatingly long night, but mentally tired as well. Tired of thinking.
“Well it’s your own fault if you didn’t have fun you know,
"She says with a disappointed attitude at the fact that I didn’t give her the reply she wanted to hear.
“I know.” I say softly. A few moments pass, as we both watch the world turn, slowly but surely, in its set orbit. I wish things were that easy for me, simple, and planned out.
“Why have you been such a downer lately?” She interrupts my thoughts. Should I tell her how I’m really feeling right now? What I think about every time I get into a car?
“Well you know, it’s almost that time, when, you know, David passed..” I start.
Only to be interrupted by her over exaggerated sighs as she protests, “Linda, it’s almost been three years! You can’t honestly say you still think about it that much.”
I cannot even reply to that.
The anger inside of me came from nowhere. The red fiery burning hot frustrated anger pushed itself up my body, forcing its way up into my head, blinding my brain, sending me into oblivion, completely wiping out any previous judgment making skills I possessed, trapping me in my mind with no escape, left only with the ideas of what I wanted to do to this whining over-privileged well-off ungrateful ignorant self-absorbed little b****. She had no idea. You can’t kill someone without consequences. No, there are always consequences.
So, here I stand. Her dead body lying in front of me, my own hands covered in her life, in her dreams, in her hopes, in her thoughts, in her desires, in her struggles, in her successes, and in her would-be future. Now she’s just like my brother, past tense. They’ll say, “Oh, she was such a sweet girl,” and “She had such a bright future,” and “She didn’t deserve to go so soon; she was so young.” But, she is gone now. And she is not here. And she is departed. And she is absent. And she is past. And she is no longer. She got everything she wanted. She was that girl. She had that life. She was perfect. She was my best friend. She killed my brother in that car accident three years ago. She paid for her actions. She faced the consequences. I killed her. But, you can’t kill someone without consequences. No, there are always consequences.