All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
It is usually more important how a man meets his fate than what it is. –Karl Wilhelm von Humboldt
I didn’t do it. I didn’t know.
But yet, here I am, hands gripping the steering wheel so tight my knuckles turn white and I can’t let go, and I’m scared, so scared that I’m crying, and my tears splatter onto my jeans.
I can hear the police sirens getting louder, so I step on the accelerator as fast as I can and drive away and my knuckles are still white and I’m still crying, and I know they’ll find me eventually, and everything is changing right now and I can’t do anything to stop it.
It took me two days to get the courage to clean my car.
I get out of bed and get a large sponge and bucket.
I go down to the garage and start to scrub.
Pretend it’s paint, I tell myself, except it doesn’t work because I know I’m being foolish and trying to lie to my own mind.
Sometimes you don’t know where you’re going, or who you are, or what you want. Sometimes it’s like falling in the snow, headfirst, breathing in the ice until it suffocates you. But you feel safe because you’re down, and you’re invisible for a few blissful moments where the world forgets who you are.
Today I am a journalist and I feel attentive and new, scribbling thoughts into my head. I pick a random pair of glasses from my nightstand. They are gold-rimmed and the lenses are a little smudged with the memory of fingerprints, but they’ll do fine. I put them on and blink for a few seconds, because the back of my head is spinning and it hurts. My vision is blurry and faces are unclear and the edges of buildings just blend into the sky.
I call these days the Period of Exploring the Human Mind.
I glance at the mirror and run a smooth hand down my hair. The glasses hurt my eyes and I’m just an oval blob with arms and legs. I like it better this way – not knowing who I am. I look down at my Vans, and the olive green stripes are fading, and the laces are graying and tearing up at the ends, but it’s okay, because even if I’m always changing, these are the only shoes I wear.
It’s my first day working at Starbucks and I park my car in the lot and lock it, just in case. I avoid looking at the dents in the front and walk in through the side door. The people are loud and talkative, and their voices kind of ring in my ears, but maybe it’s just me worrying.
The boss has a handlebar moustache and beer belly. He hands me a nametag and a uniform, tells me to get changed, come back quickly, and do I have any questions? I say no and walk into the bathroom, which smells like eight years’ worth of bleach.
I come back out and there is already a line, even though it’s seven o’clock in the morning, and there is a lady in a mink fur coat at the front on a cell phone. She waves to me and I take her order, and she is busy yakking on her phone and I am already tired of my job.
“They’ll find out you know,” she says and I look down, and I’m blushing, and the bottom of my glasses start fogging up, and my heart starts beating fast and I mess up her coffee. I look up again slowly and I realize she’s still on her dumb phone, except now she’s glaring at me.
“Sorry,” I say, and I know I’m sorry. “I’m really sorry.”
What do you do when you don’t even know yourself?
I’m starting to hear voices sometimes, and I don’t know why.
Last night I pictured her father, standing with his mouth open in front of my car, looking at the mess I’ve made.
I didn’t do it. I didn’t know.
I quit my job at Starbucks. Too many people can see me, find me, accuse me.
Sometimes when I pass my old high school, I watch my friends walking across the fields. I want to say hi and smile but I can’t, because I’m in the car, and they’re out there, and these are two different worlds I can’t combine.
It’s two in the morning and I can’t sleep.
I grab my glasses, the ones with the gold rims and smudged lenses, throw on a bathrobe, and drive into the night.
I park on the side of the bridge and get out. It’s beautiful out here, so dark I can’t see the river, but I can hear it – waves and waves of water clashing and banging and just rushing towards home.
For a moment I place my hands on the rails and consider jumping. I can see her face, her blood all over the road.
It’s a life for a life, right?
But then I am embarrassed for thinking this, and I start to cry because I’m lost, lost in my own city.
I find out where her father works, from the newspaper.
“Still Searching for Runaway Killer,” it reads, and I want to tell them I know who he is, but he didn’t do it really, he didn’t mean it, he didn’t know.
It’s an old antique store, and the door has bells that jingle when I open it.
He looks up, and he is the same as I remember, except his hair is grayer and he has bags under his eyes, and maybe I imagine it but there is sadness in them, too.
He recognizes me.
“You!” he shouts and points a shaky finger at me, and my feet are stuck to the floor and my mouth is shut and I feel beads of sweat trickling down my neck.
He is crying now, and I am still here, wondering why I did this.
He pulls out a gun from under the counter and aims at me.
“No!” I say, and he is still crying and I am still standing, and I wonder why the world is so cruel to us both.
“I didn’t know,” I whisper and I want to tell him that she ran in front of my car, I hit brake, but it was too late, there was nothing I could do, and I got so scared, and I’m so sorry, so very sorry. And I want to say all of this except my voice is still stuck in the pits of my stomach.
“You don’t know…the pain…” he sobs and now my eyes are blurry from tears too, and I watch them splash onto the torn laces of my Vans.
I know I am torturing myself, but I deserve it.
Later in the day, I learn that he died.
A life for a life, and I was too proud to give up mine.
It’s the early morning, maybe about six o’clock, and I drive to the bridge carefully because I want to catch the sunset.
I sit on the railings and look into the sky, and the water is singing from below my feet, and it’s all so beautiful.
Maybe I can start a new beginning.
I push off a little from the rails, and I’m falling, falling, falling so fast I can’t even catch my breath, but it’s okay, it’s all okay I think, because I’m getting saved.