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“She never moved,” Genine stated somberly, twirling the bright neon stemmed lilies she held. Her hands, covered with the furry padding of her gloves, moved shakily about as we stepped through the dew dotted grass, our feet sinking into the soft brown mud. The crisp October air flew icily through our bodies, leaving our skeletons with an unnerving, anxious feeling. “Luke…she never moved” she repeated, stopping along the gravel path.
“I know” I told her, hoping she would keep walking. I was not in the frame of mind to have this discussion. I kept walking, the sound of gravel and leaves crunching under my feet briskly. The oak trees loomed overhead, the last threads of colorful leaves hanging limply from the dark amber branches. I thrusted my hands into my pockets as a gust of chilly October wind threw my jacket open.
“Why didn’t she…you know? Tell us?” Genine chattered, jogging to keep up with my brisk walk. I told her I didn’t know, that I didn’t really care to know why she had neglected to tell us this information, hoping this would end the discussion, that I may be allowed to walk in morbid silence and drown in my own self-pity and sadness. Unfortunately self-pity and sadness were foreign to Genine.
“You knew didn’t you! You knew!” she gasped incredulously, again coming to a stop. No, I informed her, I hadn’t known. I wished she would just be quiet. “Then why aren’t you curious! You didn’t even looked surprised when mom called and told us.”
“Mother of god could you please just shut the h*** up already? I did NOT know!” That shut her up for a good while but I could tell by the quizzical look on her face that she was not convinced. “I did wonder…though. About why she never came back like she said she would. I always thought there was a reason…guess now I know.”
“She would have come back, you know. She loved you, it was so obvious. About the only thing obvious about Libby.” Tears pierced my eyes at the mention of her name. It was still too soon to be saying that name. It held too much power over me, brought out uncomfortable amounts of emotion.
“Yeah and how would you know” I asked her, turning my pale face away from her as I tears gathered in the corners of my eyes. She sighed and cocked her head to the side, a reminiscing smile spreading slowly across her face. “You could just tell. You and her were…so inseperable. There had to be love in there somewhere…in the mix of all that adventure and craziness…”
“That was all Libby. I was just along for the ride.” She had me smiling already. Thankful to have her along I grasped her gloved hand lightly. We stepped carefully up the icy stairs until we stood at the peak of a grassy slope peppered with ghoustly bare trees and dark leaves, elegantly descending downwards. Her grave had been placed beside the old oak we had climbed on the sticky summer days, our treehouse still sturdily engraved into its loyal branches and our knifed graffiti art knitted on the trunk and branches owningly.
I touched the cool granite, running my numb fingers along the white engravement. ‘Libby Bricket, born 1990, died 2007’ it read. That simple phrase could not possibly, I thought, sum up all that had been Libby Bricket. She was more than just dates. She had had so much life, too much life. Being around her made every simple, unextrodinary task an adventure. Libby could not even begin to be described through these simplistic words, they do her no justice.
“Here it is” Genine kneeled, placing the bowl of frozen lilies gently in front of her grave. Everything around us looked so lifeless, as if the world had died along with Libby. “I never imagined Libby being buried.”
“What do you mean by that” I asked her as I brushed away the crinkly brown leaves from the earth and collapsed onto the ground, suddenly feeling my legs turn weak as jello. Gazing at the grave too long, imagining her death, was like my kryptonite-my only weakness (that and cats, I’m deathly allergic)-and it left my stomach with vomit like groanings.
“I mean, I always imagined that…not like I thought of her dying but, you remember? That one summer? We were in…tenth grade I think and we were all here, or, there up in the tree house,” she told me, pointing vigorously at the tree house, like showing me it would jog my memory. I had no idea what she was talking about. “You remember! She said, and I quote, when I die, I won’t really die. Then you said, that’s impossible. Everyone is dying, you’re dying right now!” That does sound awfully like me. “And Lib said, Oh is that right? Well I’ll have you know that this isn’t life! This is death! What we think of as death is really just LIFE!”
“And then she said that in her actual life she was an enchanting gypsy in a land of theft and magic” I finished. “Yeah…she had some imagination.”
“Think she’s there now? A beautiful gypsie, seducing young, handsome princes in the magical, perilous lands with mysteries behind every corner!” No, I thought, she’s dead. She’s in the ground, under six feet of hard packed dirt, probably a rotting, deformed skeletal figure by now. “Stop it Luke.”
“What?” I glanced at her cautiously.
“You’re so transparent,” she scoffed, leaning her head lightly on my shoulder. “You’ll never get over her until-“
“You’re not a freaking psychologist Geni!” I hissed, nudging her gruffly off my shoulder. I looked away from her and the grave, both women glaring at me with accusing, too knowing eyes that could see through my transparent words with ease.
“You’re not the only one who’s allowed to be upset you know. She was my best friend too! But no. I have to be the cheery, positive one because of you! You idiot! You’re such a CHILD! It’s not the end of the world you know! Life goes ON Luke, life goes on! Libby died! And sure, she never told us what was happening to her, but that doesn’t change how we knew her! That doesn’t change all those amazing times we had together growing up!” Genine’s high shrieks pierced the air, slapping my face brutally, tears running down her face in black, make-uppy streaks.
“Sorry…” I whispered. Silence fell between us. We leaned against the oak tree, bracing ourselves against it as the Vermont wind swirled around us, carrying with it an array of browns and reds, leaves swirling up to the heavens and gliding down to the gravity of earth again. I imagined it was Libby, bubbly, full of life and joy. But falling so suddenly, gliding elegantly downwards. I could feel myself letting go of her then, releasing her image, and her life, our life that I had been struggling helplessly to hold onto, into the crisp October air. I hated the feeling. The world without her tasted bland and colorless, lifeless. “How will I ever be OK…” Genine was silent.