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By , Jericho, NY
Enter the taunting building and take a right. Walk past four closed down; slide into the staircase. Stumble, then run up two flights of stairs. Third floor, walk to the left, turn the corner, and you’re in the English hallway. Search a little further and you’re surrounded by four wide and long windows; the light streams in and sparkles in your eyes.

What did you feel, the first time you were there? Did you sit down on the ledge, like the first time I saw you; did you stare out the window and look at the sky, like I did? Or did you look at the ground, at the dirt, at the dead grass?

At least now, you don’t have to look at it anymore.



“Sophie Morel, right?” The nurse asked me, and I nodded, my ponytail bouncing in the air.

“Let’s see, take pills twice everyday, come visit me whenever you feel bad, mandatory visits when you take your pills…and why is this?” she asked, her ice colored eyes watching me curiously.

“It’s written on the bottom of the sheet,” I answered, sliding my hands into the pockets of my new pair of skinny jeans.

“Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy…”

“Yep,” I affirmed. The nurse, Sandy, immediately melted, and took my hand in hers.

“Whenever you need me, other than our scheduled visits, you come, okay dear?” I nodded, inwardly hating the fact that she was being nice to me. I vowed never to pay her a visit other than the scheduled ones.

“Thanks. Umm…I don’t want to be late for my first class, so…”

“Of course. Have a nice day dear.”

“Thanks. See you later.”

This was my first day at Central High school, my first day in Philadelphia, and I was receiving sympathy. What would have happened if my classmates knew, if you knew? Would you have understood?

I went through three classes before meeting you. You were sitting on the window ledge, the sunlight reflecting onto your back, playing with the brown of your skin, the black of your hair.

“Are you cutting?” I had blurted out. I had seen you in my gym class, and yet, you were here, with me. I had a reason…did you?

“Nope.”
That was it. No other exchange of words, no acknowledgment of each other’s existence. It would take ten days before we became acquaintances, twenty before were became friends, fifteen more to become as close and annoying as siblings, and until the end of the school year for you to leave me.





Do you remember, that time you and Tammy sneaked into my tiny house, and entertained me throughout the whole night when Dad was too busy to come home from his job? How you fell asleep on the couch while Tammy shared my bed? How when Dad returned home at one in the morning, he wasn’t even surprised to see you?
How many secrets did you keep? You could have told me that my Dad was your psychologist, I could have helped you. Tammy could have helped you. We saw you more than Dad, didn’t we?
Just so you know, Tammy’s not here anymore. After you left, she applied to a college far from Pennsylvania, across the ocean, where she now tries to forget about you. I can’t forget. I’m left with an oversized, empty heart, the last broken memory of you, and my crushed father. You didn’t just hurt me; you ought to know that.



“If I die, bury me in Niagara falls,” you joked.

“Shut up. That’s too far from here,” Tammy laughed.

“I’m going to wear a pink suit at your funeral, when I’m wrinkly and I smell bad,” I said.

You had laughed, only for a moment. You glanced at the both of us, then you smiled. “I want to be under the water. I want it to rush over me so that I’d swimming every day.”

I’m sorry. I should have listened.

I suffered severely after you left. Not just mentally, but physically. Melina, my doctor, had to place an ICD in my heart, to regulate my heart beat. Now I’m a machine. A machine that smiles automatically, frown automatically, but can never cry. Robots are never able to cry, did you know that?

When you smiled…were you a robot too?



I was standing behind the door, listening to your conversation. I don’t remember how I felt then; I don’t even know how I feel about it now.

“Mika…” Tammy whispered your name as you held onto her white blond curls. I had never seen her look this heartbroken, there was something clearly wrong.

Then, you said the very words I was not expecting. I don’t know why, but I felt as if my heart was the one that was broken.

“I love you,” you told her, and she smiled weakly, reaching towards you as you pulled her into a tight embrace. I felt my own heart beating wildly as I watched you, I felt as if I were being embraced. For a moment, I felt jealous.

“I can’t…” Tammy had finally said, pushing you away. She was red, but there were no visible tears.

“It doesn’t matter!” You had tried to persuade her. I tried to figure out what you meant.

Tammy answered my wonder. Calmly, she expressed a military like figure by saying, “Mika, you’re Muslim. I’m Jewish. We can’t be together. I don’t want to be estranged from my family! We’re only seventeen! Don’t you care about your family at all?”

“No,” you coldly replied, and I didn’t stay to hear anymore. I left, pretending that all the secrets you kept from me were nothing but fairy dust.



Sometimes, I try to think of the better days we spent. But I can’t think of any. It’s vague in my mind, and I remember your smile…or was that fake too? Was it really a coincidence, that we had done a project on suicide? Was I the only one that didn’t know? Everyone around you, the teachers, the counselor, Tammy, my dad, knew. Why was I the only one who didn’t?

I guess we’re on mutual terms now. You never knew about me either, and now, you’ll never know.



“Sophie….Sophie!?” my dad had screamed that day, when I had undergone syncope. That means I fainted. Not a big deal, right? A lot of people faint, but that can’t be as horrible as what you went through right? You had bigger problems than I did, didn’t you?

No. You didn’t.

You chose your death. I can’t choose mine. Sometimes I wish I could, because you know what? I f***ing hate going to a hospital every other day, just because I have to try and survive. I wouldn’t be complaining as much if I were the lucky ones, the ones whose cases weren’t that serious. I’m not lucky. The doctors haven’t seen anything like me; they say I could suffer from sudden cardiac arrest.
When you died, I knew all the details of your death. How you resorted to pills, an instant death, falling asleep on your bed. I wish you could be alive for just one more day so I could tell you what I go through every single day.
I was on the track team, did you know that? Now, I can’t even run for a f***ing minute; I can’t even breathe properly. All the doctors at the hospitals are familiar with me now; that’s how much I go there. Even if I don’t admit it, I’m scared about dying. My heart is constantly leaking blood into the wrong atrium, my left ventricle pains from pressure and stiffness and I don’t even have a regular heart beat. I don’t need to feel my wrist for my heart beat; it’s already pumping abnormally against my chest.
That day, when I fainted, I didn’t wake up. The doctors thought I was going to die, my dad was about to kill the doctors. I don’t remember anything from that day. That day, the very same moment I had fainted; you had taken the pills, right?
Was this my luck?
Or, for once, were we on the same side?



Everyone knows that life moves on. That even if a million people die, even if a neighbor dies, even if your father, your mother, your best friend, pass away, people continue to re-adjust to life.

I can’t do that. I can’t pretend that life will get better even if your not here. When you were here, I had fun. I felt like a normal teenager, with unlimited energy and dreams. It was false hope, I know, but at least you were here, with me.

Now, I go through my days like a gray cloud, floating restlessly past the white, blue and the yellow of the sky, lone and lost. Sure, I’m still living, talking to random strangers, pretending to be okay in front of Dad, visiting my doctors as usual, and going through college with a career in mind. I still doing all of these things, but I’m not truly doing it. I’m moving through life with the same deception you had carried.

I don’t know how to get better.


There’s a saying in the Quran that you had once told me. I still remember it, even now.
'Son, if you are able, keeps your heart from morning till night and from night till morning free from malice towards anyone.'
I suppose, we had both failed.





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