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Tears for Rachel (Part 3)
Mom smiled and I put my sneakers on. Nelly followed me out the back door. She tagged along at my heels, excited and eager and unaware of my emotional pain. I headed toward the path through the woods. I always used to love to walk there.
The forest behind our house goes on for miles. I’ve never reached the other side. The woods are thick, so I usually stick to the trail. When I was younger, I built forts in the woods. I pretended to be a fox hiding from hunters, or a summer camp runaway that got lost. Now I’m too old for those games. Growing up stinks.
The trees provided shade from the bright summer sun, but it was still hot out. So I sat on a rock to rest after fifteen minutes of walking. Nelly sniffed out a spot to pee on. The noises of the forest were ringing in my ears; the rustling of leaves, birds tweeting, squirrels running up trees. All was calm. And I felt calm for once. I didn’t feel quite as sad.
Suddenly, a black and yellow speck raced in front of my face. A bee. It hovered around my head, like it was trying to decide if I was a flower. Unfortunately, I must have smelled like a flower. The bee landed on my bare thigh. In a quick spurt of irritation, I swatted at the bee. Big mistake. It was just as irritated. It parked its abdomen on my leg and stung me. I winced with pain. Dumb bee.
I sat there with Nelly at my side, frustrated with my own stupid decision to swipe at a bee. Everyone knows to be still and the bee will leave! And then I remembered. And I started sobbing.
I bent over and put my face in my hands. My tears rushed out like waterfall, like a fountain. Nelly couldn’t figure out what was going on. In her eyes, everything was dandy and we were just having a great walk in the woods.
But I was not having a dandy time. How could the world be so unfair? I get stung by a bee, and I only experience an hour of discomfort. Rachel gets stung, and she puffs up and dies. How could a dumb bee kill someone? It was unjust.
The raging river in my eyes eventually was dammed up. I brought Nelly home and retreated to my closet. My leg ached. My mind was spinning out of control. But I didn’t cry. I couldn’t possibly cry anymore. I might have gotten dehydrated had I wept again.
The next morning I felt refreshed, and I couldn’t explain why. A faint, almost imperceptible emotion was creeping through my body. Could that possibly have been . . . happiness? I was not sure.
Maybe it was relief. A weight had been lifted off my shoulders in the woods that day. And I felt better. All my tears were gone. I felt no need to cry. For a month and a half, I had been shedding tears for Rachel. And now I was done. Now I could move on. Of course, I still thought about Rachel every day. She was my best friend, after all. But I was going to be okay.
I went downstairs with my new perspective on life and said, “Mom, can we go to the mall today?”