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Thump, thump, thump, thump. I stared down at my feet as I walked; listening to the soft plastic bottoms of my sneakers as they connected to the cracking gray sidewalk. I wasn’t completely sure where I was going at 2:00 a.m. on a Tuesday, but I supposed it didn’t matter, to me or to anyone else.
It was my fault really; I was too quiescent for my own good. The thriving, vital, masses of society rejected my stoic nature and pushed me out. Not that they had ever stated outright that I should leave, but they didn’t have to. I may be quiet but I’m not stupid, and I’m not one to stay where I’m unwanted. So I left, not out of anger or resentment or some kind of teenage fantasy of rebellion, but because it really was the best thing for all involved.
All was still where I walked; the only noises reverberating through the night were the echoes of my feet hitting the pavement, and the soft sound of my breathing.
The normal chatter of alley cats and hobos digging through the trashcans were gone as well, and their absence left me alone in a world of pure silence.
Because I was the only one there, I was the only one who saw it.
I felt its head connect with the toe of my sneaker before I actually saw it, but when I did see it and realized what it I had to stop myself from screaming.
It was a body. A dead body. A recently dead body.
I stumbled back, almost falling but somehow managing to catch myself in time.
I could feel my heart beating out of my chest and my palms were sweaty, but slowly I regained my composure and took a step forward, leaning down so I could look at it in the face.
I pushed a stray strand of hair behind my ear and looked at it, really, honestly looked at it, trying not to judge based upon the state of his condition.
And he was beautiful.
It has been said by more than a few people that a dead body is the most frightening thing in the world. That people you thought you knew were completely changed, unrecognizable in death, ugly, scary, disturbing.
But I had never seen him in life; I had only seen him this way, and to me he was beautiful. Soft black lashes caressed white cheeks and slightly parted lips waited to speak his last goodbyes.
I glanced up at the building above us. It was a long fall, and I wondered if he had died instantly.
I looked back down at him for a moment, his legs were bent almost all the way backwards and blood caked the back of his head, making his once light brown hair turn a kind of auburn color that I couldn’t help but think was pretty.
Slowly, hesitantly, with shaking hands and a rapidly beating heart, I reached out and touched his face. It was cool, but not cold, the afterimage of his life still remaining, even though he must’ve been dead for at least ten minutes.
Before I could stop myself I began to run my hand down his face, brushing across his nose, and his eyes, and his lips, as though trying to feel what his life used to be like through the angles of his face.
Was he popular? Well liked? Did he have a girlfriend? A family? Or was he like me? Alone in a world of pure silence, faced with the choice of either running away into uncertainty or jumping off a rooftop at 2:00 a.m. on a Tuesday because it didn't matter to him, or to anyone else.
I bit my lip as I looked at him, my fingertips brushing past his pale blue lips and down his chin. I could be him, and he could be me, and the realization of it made me want to weep.
“I wish I could have met you ten minutes ago,” I whispered; my voice hoarse and unwelcome in the silence of the night, “We could’ve run away together.”
And before I could really think about the implications of the act, I gently placed both hands on his cold cheeks, and pressed my lips to his.
It was my first kiss, and as I slowly pulled away from him I liked to think that it was his first as well.
I stood up, my legs hurting from kneeling for so long, and I looked down at him one last time.
“It’s nice to know that you existed,” I said.
And then I walked away, continuing on my aimless journey without looking back, without regretting that I had nothing to look back to.
I was alone at 2:00 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. But I wasn’t the only one.