July 1, 2008
By Katie Eisner, The Woodlands, TX

Click-click-click-clash. Click-click-click-clash. Click-click-click-clash. My keyboard fills the still air in my room—still, stifling air. It's like even the air in here doesn't want me to be alive, it's choking me, it's suffocating me. And the keyboard, so intolerant, it has to basically yell its head off every time I touch it. Shut up! LKJSFLKNSLDFNLlknsldfkngnklJLJLSJFE. There.

If I was the air I wouldn't let me live either.

I lay the computer aside, for the first time since 8 AM this morning. What use is it to look up colleges? I've got a neat little list lined up. It's for my mother. She'd like to see me making progress, like to see me have goals for my life. Darling mother, give up already. I glance at the computer screen just seconds before it turns black. 5 colleges, in order from 'best choice” to “worst choice”, it says on the title, but actually they're the first 5 names that came up when I typed “colleges” and “USA” into Google's little white blank. They're probably just as good as any other college.
Two pairs of velvet curtains impede the light from ruining the darkness in my room. I walk over the the window, by memory, not by sight, and lightly move aside the mauve velvet. It's just enough to let a fine stream of sunlight dance cautiously into my haven, my lair. It illuminates—nothing. I push aside a mass of stringy, dyed black hair, and then I see it: my room, bathed in light. There's heaps of papers, school work I couldn't bring myself to throw away when school ended 3 weeks ago. It's all still heaped on my desk, along with letters to be attached to that atrocious mass of synthetic purple and yellow material someone decided to christen “letter jacket”. A glass vase, chipped and cracked all the way down, holds a dozen dried roses. Christmas lights are strung around the perimeter of my room, desolate for lack of electricity. A few papers, photos are tacked onto the walls, and I recognize some faces—there's Sara, and Jake, and in the middle of the wall, like an instrument of self torture, two people leer at me. I let the curtain fall. I know those faces too well.

A sigh, and I sit down again. It's so dark, and the darkness is like a presence, comforting me, lulling me to sleep. The silence joins in the fun, and together they conspire against me. I'm no match for them, it's two against one.

“Josh! Look what I found.” Izzy's face, beautiful as the first time I met her, appears over the crest of a grassy hill. I dash over, blond locks bouncing and catching the light, that ridiculous grin popping up again. I can never resist her.

My bare feet almost collide with hers as I tumble over to where she lies. She's splayed out on the grass, red hair spread in an arc around her gently freckled face, staring intently at a blade of grass. I kneel and join her. On the grass, a caterpillar makes its way up the green spike. It's marvelous—a million colors swirl as it clenches, releases, clenches, releases, and climbs slowly, ever upward. Izzy grins—I can tell she's elated. She's found a new best friend.

But small critters are her passion, not mine. I roll over, on my back now, and pretend to watch the sky. Izzy's beautiful. Some people think beautiful is a glossy girl with pricked eyebrows, a small nose, and painted nails the exact same shade as her lipstick. I think beautiful is green eyes that flash when they see me, skin as tan as the sands near the beach houses on South End, and nails, hair, brows, and soul as wild as the sea. I think beautiful is Izzy.

She grins, a mischievous smile. Maybe she didn't care about the caterpillar as much as I did. But I love it when she smiles like that. She's dangerous, my Izzy—she'll probably stretch her wings and fly far far off one day.

As she glances my direction, the caterpillar grows, now the size of a bird, now a small fox; it grows wings and looms over my Izzy. I open my mouth to yell; she hasn't noticed. I reach out to her-- she darts back, playfully. Its shadow engulfs her—it flaps its wings—and they're gone.


It's cold. I'm lying on a mattress, not spiky grass, but I'd give anything to be there again.

I keep thinking that if I could only call to her, she'd stay with me, we could live in my dreams, as carefree and happy as those summer days such a long time age. But I can never call to her in time.

I blink, the memory fades. Another day. Another forsaken, worthless day. What's the point?

The picture's still there, though. I dash to the blinks and wrench them open. I hadn't dreamed of Izzy since—well, since that day, 5 months and 12 days ago. But her picture—I still have it. The morning sun glares unobstructed into my room for the first time in weeks, and it's painful. There—on the wall—the two people. She smiles down at me like the angel she is. Why tonight? Why did it take so long? “I miss you, Izzy,” I whisper, wondering if she hears me, wondering why she came to me tonight. I drag my laptop over, pry open the lid, and check the date. It's her birthday. I smile back, and I can almost hear a gasp of alarm emanating from my four walls. My room must have had a heart attack. I haven't smiled in months.

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