A Whisper In the Dark

September 19, 2009
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“Start from the middle Zach. It grabs people’s attention, draws them into the story.” That’s what Mrs. Theissen always used to say. I never paid much attention, but now it seems it’s all I can do to keep her out of my head. Lately I’ve been learning to give in.

It was late November, the indifferent winds sweeping through the small town of Manassas, Virginia. My home town. The cold breeze wasn’t unusual here, but was welcomed from the untenable summer heat. Yet it was colder than usual this night, little boughts of wind throwing newspapers from the gutter into spirals circling the pavement. I remember hearing the distant sound of the giant Elms and Conifers swaying against each other three blocks down at Carleton Memorial park. The discordant song of the night birds mixed with the toll of City Hall clock. Ten thirty, I better hurry up. As I came up to Smithson library I started wondering what I was really doing there. Sure, I told myself it was to return those three books that I had held onto for the ridiculous amount of three months, but I knew what I was doing. I was avoiding my parents. I never really understood why they drank. All I knew was that I was never touching a can of beer the rest of my life. It’s not that they were bad people or anything, they just had a bad habit. I pondered on this for a while, forgetting the books completely. And as I walked down Lawnborne Avenue, these thoughts heavy on my mind, someone else was doing the same thing. This person was taking a long drive around town, not wanting to go home to his wife. Too ashamed to tell her he had been fired, he also had a lot on his mind. I do not know why he decided to take that left off Ash Brooke Lane, or does it matter. What matters is that he did. What matters is the unsuspecting person he swerved into.

There’s a lot of clarity in dying. Everything that seemed so complex before becomes simplified, as if looking through a spiritual lense. All the bonds and burdens of life are taken away. If I could describe it one word, it would be Freedom. But before I can go on, I must tell you how I got to this conclusion. I must go back to the beginning…

Stonewall High gets it’s name from it’s high walls and stone cold teachers. It’s a very menacing place, especially to freshman. Most of all, my best friend Saylor.

“I just don’t see wh-”

“Yes Saylor, you’re going!”

“Ugh…fine. Come on Zach, we’re gonna be late!”

We usually walked to school together. This was our first day of high school, and we weren’t necessarily looking forward to it. We had all heard the rumors, especially the ones about Mrs. Lewis. She was the main reason for Saylor’s extra lack of enthusiasm today. I was a little too, we both got picked for her class.

“At least we’ll die with good company?” I joked unreasurredly.

I wasn’t the best when it came to reassuring people. But thank goodness I didn’t have to. We showed up to our homeroom class, crossing our fingers, only to find a pleasant surprise waiting for us.

“Class, unfortunately Mrs. Lewis decided to retire this year, due to a psychotic breakdown. I’m her replacement, Mrs. Theissen.”

I had no idea then how much this one woman would change my life.

When you die, you don’t remember much from your previous life, because there’s no comparison between it and your new life up there. Yet Mrs. Theissen always stayed in my thoughts. Maybe because of the huge impact she made on my life?

Mrs. Theissen was different from all the other teachers. She wasn’t strict. She didn’t assign insane amounts of homework when she knew there was a game that night. She was cool in a way. But the most interesting thing was that she cared. She got to know her students personally, connected with them. It was as if she really, sincerely, cared.

Months passed, and as the days grew longer, so did my parents boughts of drinking. I would come to school earlier most days to avoid them, which wasn’t that hard to do since they slept in till one on those days. I would make up excuses to stay late after school or go to a friend’s house afterwards. I once failed a whole semester just so I could sign up for tutoring. I resented them. I would blame my problems, no matter how irrelevant, on their bad habit. And the more time I spent at school, and the more miserable I became, the more Mrs. Theissen noticed. As hints of abuse began to show Mrs. Theissen started to teach me how to deal with it. She taught me about Jesus. She confided in me her own childhood experiences, and I told her about mine. And if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I literally mean, I would not be up here if it wasn’t for her.

Now, do I blame him for hitting me? No. I would rather thank him. The irony in dying is that you’re whole life on Earth you fight and push to stay alive. Everything you do you have to struggle to get through. Everything you need you have to strive and work for relentlessly. And the whole time you have no idea that the things you really wanted were already yours to begin with. What an awakening there is with dying! All my life I wanted someone to love and love me back. I yearned for the comfort of someone else, yet did not know He was there all along. If it were not for Mrs. Theissen, my situation would be a lot different now. She reached out when no one else did, like a whisper in the dark, and saved my life.

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jessi said...
Oct. 5, 2009 at 10:05 pm
wow. thats really good! really really good! keep writing, cause that was amazing! expecially liked the last few paragraphs. :)
Zero_K This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 5, 2009 at 4:56 pm
Ooooh. I love this. It kept me interested and it was written so well I didn't know I reading in parts. Beautiful!
-Blessed Be!
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