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Red and brown leaves danced at my feet like they were blaming me, teasing me, cursing me for her passing. I try to accept it, but she loved me more than any sweet desire, more than any record, and more than any boy.
When the hearse came to a stop, I watched them take her out. The long black coffin glimmered in the musky daytime light.
Inside the church the line began for people to look at her one last time. Her pretty freckled face shined, it was too pale. Her lips puckered just a little, as if she wanted a kiss. She made me shiver, she looked cold.
Everyone began to sit down, whimpering while their hands covered their faces. Some were old, some were babies, some were in her classes, most were her family, and one was me.
Her parents said a few words. Then Penelope, her sister, read a beautiful poem.
After more words and prayers were said, we traveled to the cemetery where the burial began; where they lowered her underground. I had to stop myself from thinking how scared she must be, because she hated the dark, and she hated being alone.
After the funeral, I slowly walked to my Thunderbird.
I sat in the driver’s seat for what felt like twenty minutes, just thinking. The radio was the only sound keeping me sane. I missed her warm hands and her long black hair. I couldn’t take it. I hit the gas, raced, and remembered the day they told me about her suicide.
I was sitting in algebra when Mr. Smeckle, our school principal, walked in with his hands deeply in his pant pockets.
“Can I speak to Tommy, please?” He didn’t take his eyes off the floor either.
I followed Mr. Smeckle out of the room, and he said, “Son, I’m terribly sorry.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“What about her?”
His body language didn‘t change. “Her mother tried to wake her for school this morning, but she wouldn’t wake up. She called 9-1-1, and they found a few empty pill bottles pills under her pillow. Tommy, I‘m so sorry.”
I didn’t understand at first, but then it hit me. I became hysterical by punching the lockers behind me, yelling, and shoving Mr. Smeckle away. I slid down to the floor and cried and cried.
When Mr. Smeckle got me under control, he called my father and told him to keep me out of school for a while.
That was six days ago, and I return to school soon.
I dreamt of our first time. Her parents were out of town, so she invited me over. She laughed at all my dumb jokes, loved all my flaws, and she let me kiss her sweetness. Her soft strawberry flavored lips made me want her. The tangy scent of SunnyD exhaling into my mouth made me crave her even more. I removed her clothes first, then mine. Her hot cheeks rested against my chest, my heart had already been robbed. She glanced up at me, I glanced down at her. She knew I had made love with many girls, she didn’t care. I knew that I was her first, I didn’t care. She whispered, “I love you.“ I kissed the top of her sweaty head, and said, “I love you.“ Man, I miss her.
When I walked through the school doors, I sensed it. I saw the eyes staring at me in every possible direction. I heard the whispers, I tasted the rumors, I smelt her, and I felt alone.
I stopped at my locker, but didn’t open it. I knew what was behind it; the kisses we shared during passing periods, her sweet body leaning against it, and the picture of her that she snuck in. I carried myself to homeroom.
I was the first one in class, and I would be the last to leave.
During second period, I heard the bell and lifted my head to see Penelope slide into the desk next to mine; it was her first day back, too.
“Hi, Tommy.” She didn’t look at me.
“Hi, Penny.” I stared at her.
I went for a walk in the park today, only to sit and think. I ended up seeing. I saw her, exactly where I fell in love. She was dancing around the swing set pole, her black hair flowing beyond her slim torso. Her left arm was attached to the cold metal, the rest of her body was swimming around it. The smile spread across that pale face, made my heart follow it. My heart never returned, even after she swallowed the seventy-three Aspirin.
At lunch, I sat with Penelope.
“Remember when Annie broke that chair over there.” I said pointing to a red cafeteria chair.
We both laughed, then grew silent.
Penelope whispered, “Come by after school today, I have something to give you.”
Then she got up and walked away.
I spent the rest of the day getting glances and smiles from people I didn’t even know existed. I got the jealous glances from the boys, and the delighted smiles from the girls. I knew many boys wanted her, and the other girls envied her. But they were the last thing on my mind.