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I heard once that the color green is supposed to relax people. My whole room is painted sherbet green. I stare at the photos scattered on my comforter. One of the pictures is crumpled. It’s of us at the beach. He has his arm around me and there is a little girl in the back trying to catch a Frisbee. She missed. Some of the other pictures are bent in the corners from their previous homes along the edges of my dresser mirror, while others are in perfect condition. Those are the ones that were placed carefully in my big green album, meant to stay forever. I hold an extra large iced coffee with cream and sugar with my fingers. I squeeze the plastic cup and then quickly let go, watching the ice shift up and down. My small dark eyes and bony cheeks are drowning underneath my dark brown hair. Everyone says that my hair is black, but I know it is brown.
I slide the pictures to the bottom of my mattress and look around for my cell phone. I don’t see it anywhere. I lean over my bed and flip up the bed skirt. I see the bright light shining against the dark of the mattress. I reach for its silver frame, the tips of my fingers grasping the antenna and dragging it towards me. I get a better hold onto it and flip back up onto my bed. One Missed Text Message. I use my thumb to flip the cover open.
Hey. Remember that time we went to the store
and bought ice cream cones but forgot the ice cream?
Lets do that again.
The text message is from him, the guy who had his arm around me, the guy who fills all the perfectly crumpled pictures that are three feet from my purple painted toes. My fingers tighten on the cell phones body as my breathing becomes deep and thick. I drop the phone, its bright light shining faintly now in the glow of my bedside lamp. I put my hands between my knees and squeeze my thighs closer and closer together, waiting to feel those pins and needles. That feeling everyone gets when the blood stops rushing to the tips of the fingernails, the feeling that everyone tries to shake off, except me.
I remember that night, the night we sat on his couch, licking the sugar off the ice cream cones because there were no melted drips of vanilla. He was wearing the long sleeve polo I got him for Christmas. It was green. My legs were pretzeled among his and the radio was playing Tiny Dancer by Elton John. I never liked Elton John but he did. Chris.
I stick my legs out straight in front of me, allowing blood to flow from knee cap to toes. My heel lands in the middle of one of the flawless pictures. I lean forward and grab it. It’s the one of Chris smiling straight at me. I remember this day. We were going to go ice skating but we never actually made it. We got distracted halfway out the door by a large envelope in the mail. Chris stopped short and my ice skate nudged him in the back. His 102 pound body jolted in surprise as he reached down to grab the envelope. It read: Bridewater University, his number one college choice. He immediately handed it to me, his eyebrows crinkled like used streamers. I peeled open the flap and dug inside.
Congratulations! Due to your academic
achievements you have been accepted...
That’s when I snapped the picture, right when his expression was fresh and real. Right when I could see his future being played out in his eyes between quick blinks, right when I could see my reflection in his eyes disappearing with each passing blink. That night we went out to dinner. I don’t remember what I ate or what I was wearing and what we talked about. All I remember is thinking about Chris leaving for college. I remember thinking about Chris leaving me. And I remember thinking about the green tablecloth that was covering our table and how I felt anything but relaxed.
My foot is hanging off the edge of my green comforter and my toes are cold. I fold my legs like little kids do in nursery school, criss cross apple sauce. I reach over for the one of the pictures with the bent corners. Chris is surrounded by mounds of trash bags and suitcases and Poptarts and Redbull. I bought him those pop tarts, the strawberry kind. This is the last picture I have of him before he left for Bridgewater. I remember thinking when I took this picture that he looked strong. Now when I look at it, white creases travel across his bony elbows and thin jaw line. I quickly scoop up all the pictures and throw them in the shoebox on my nightstand, the Chris box. I don’t bother organizing the pictures, lining them up straight, or flattening the ones with curled edges or harsh folds. I want them to stay like that. I want them to hold onto the truth.
I pick up my cell phone and read the message one more time. I place my finger on the button for delete, replaying images of sugar cones and Elton John and Frisbees in my head. I wrap my green comforter around my shoulders and push the button.
Do you want to delete this message?
Yes. When you can’t fit put every piece of a memory into a box. Sometimes you have to load it into trash bags and suitcases, or crammed it into an ice cream cone below strawberry and vanilla and chocolate clumps of freezer burned ice cream. I slide off my bed and place the box on the lowest shelf in my closet, behind my prom shoes and empty picture frames. I hop back onto my bed and lay on my stomach across the plaid printed blanket. I stare at the corner of my wall, white paneling runs up against the green paint like a fold in a picture.