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“No one’s staring at you.” I said to myself as I got out of my car in my graduation gown. “Only a few more hours and I’ll be out of here and away from the reminders of what I had done.” I reached the door to the gym and braced myself for the endless stares that stalk me everywhere I go. Stares that made me relive that dreadful day over and over; making me hate myself even more than humanly possible. I had been so focused on my own miserable life I was barely able to graduate with my class. I could barely stand to look at myself, I constantly avoided mirrors whenever possible. I didn’t want people to think that I was enjoying life after what I had done. And I didn’t want to give them something else to say about me.
I walked in trying not to draw a lot of attention to myself, then I noticed my parents sitting in their assigned chairs. I was shocked, baffled. I didn’t expect them to show up. Yeah, I know they are my parents and we lived under the same roof for 18 years but we were defiantly not a family anymore. Ever
since that night we had all gone to our separate corners, not speaking unless absolutely necessary. I never see them look at me without tears in their eyes. That’s why when I walked through the gym doors I was very surprised to see them sitting down like normal parents. I couldn’t wait to get it over with. As soon as they called out the last name I was going to bolt. I was so sick of making my mother look at me the way she did. I had already packed the night before so there was no reason to wait around. I didn’t want to have to look at my parents one more time, I didn’t want the painful goodbye. I knew they probably didn’t want to loose another kid, but I just couldn’t deal with my life here anymore.
Since that night, I hardly ever heard my mother speak, unless of course if it was about non-important things. On top of that she hasn’t left the house in months, where she mostly locks herself in her bedroom. I hoped they realized how hard it was for me to look at them and see the sorrow and devastation that is ever present in their tear filled eyes.
As I was thinking this I was forced to take my seat and let the ceremony begin. I was listening to my fellow classmates around me trying not to draw attention to myself , as always. Everyone quieted down as the Superintendent began to speak. I of course didn’t hear one word of the whole speech. My mind was too busy conjuring pictures from that dreadful night. Over and over they flashed through my thoughts. Until, suddenly I was jerked back to the present as the girl behind me shoved me to get my attention. I begin to focus back on the present and I realized they had just called my name. I walk down the row of chairs and up to the stage to get my diploma. I got to the stage made my way to the podium; where Mr. Richards is standing there waiting to shake my hand with a smile plastered on his face. I am suddenly right in front of him. We shake hands and he hands me my diploma. I stood there with an expressionless face, I knew if I revealed any emotion I would start sobbing uncontrollably knowing I cause someone to not live to see their graduation day. I wished everyday it was me instead of him; he had so much life left to live. I paid for it everyday, every minute, every second I lived. There are many questions that haunt me, who would he grow up to be, where would he go to college, would he have a family later in life? Most importantly “would he forgive me?” This question followed me everywhere I turn. I bounced back to the present as I heard minimal applause; I knew they were all just being polite.After I sat down Mr. Richards said a few brief words and everyone threw there caps up. I kept mine on an sprinted back to my car. Now all I had to do was go home, pack all my belongings in my car, put the note I’d written earlier today on the table. I couldn’t wait till they got home and deal with the awkward goodbye. I got to my house jumped out ran to the front door, fumbled with my keys. I hurriedly opened the door and rushed inside found my note and set it lightly on the table. I decided it was time to pack the car, so I grabbed a few boxes from my closet and started for the car. Once I got all my boxes in the car I went back into my room and looked around one last time remembering everything that happened in this room. I got tears in my eyes as I remembered.
I got back into my car made sure I had everything, put the car into gear and backed out of the driveway. Hopefully I never have to come back to this place where memories are at every turn.Once I was on the highway and finally had the open road to myself; I let my mind wander to that night and replay the events leading up to the accident.
It was like any normal Thursday in October driving over to the Jr. High School to pick up my little brother Mike from basketball practice at 6. It was rainy but not as terrible as it had been in the last couple of days and I had gotten to school and home just fine. I pulled up to the school and was a little late due to my mom not being done at an open house. My dad would usually pick him up if mom wasn’t done with work. Unfortunately dad was held up at the office. So when I pulled up Mike was the only kid left out there. He saw me pull up and sprinted to the car to avoid the rain. He jumped in and slammed the door trying to avoid big drops coming from the big maple I had happened to park under. He immediately started talking “Hey Em, what’s up?” he said
“Hey, not much sorry I’m late.” I apologized “Mom didn’t call until a few minutes after your practice was already over and said she wouldn’t be able to come get you.”
“That’s okay I got some of my homework done while I was waiting.”
“So, how was practice?” I asked
“ Terrible we had to run a lot; and I’m exhausted!” he practically yelled, which sounded really loud in the compact space of my car.
“Well that sucks, and guess what.” I paused “Mom and dad are both still working so we have to fend for ourselves for supper.”
“Uh” he threw his hands up in the air in disgust, “ they are always working late we haven’t had a home cooked meal in ages.”
“News flash we had one on Monday.” I explained.
“Oh, well it seems like forever.” he said. A few moments of just the radio playing in the background and trees flying by outside. It was pretty dark outside since the storm started and being in the woods that surrounded the road it was almost pitch black. It started down pouring, it was so instant I had to frantically flip the windshield wipers on full blast and slowed down considerably. It was getting very difficult to see, so I turned the music down so I could focus completely on the road. I was doing pretty good so I was thinking about what I should fix for supper and how I was going to get my history paper done. In those few seconds I took my focus of the road and was jerked back as Mike screamed “Emily! Watch Out!” just as a deer decided to jump right in front of our car. I know they tell you to hit the deer but I just jerked the wheel and stomped on the brakes. The car spun so we were sitting perpendicularly to our lane and we were sitting in both lanes. I looked over at Mike to ask if he was okay. Just as I looked over at him I saw headlights behind him. I screamed as the car smashed into his side, I heard the crunch and folding of metal. I screamed and screamed with tears streaming down my face. I searched for my phone once I found it in my pocket and dialed 911. When the operator answered the phone I tried to stay calm but I couldn’t control the sobs coming from my chest. I told him that I had been in an accident between our two towns. He asked if anyone was hurt and I told him another car had hit the passenger side where my brother was sitting. He said to stay calm and they would have an ambulance on the way. But the whole time he was talking all I could think about was Mike, if he was going to die, what had I done to him. As long moments past I looked to see the red and blue swirling lights heading I our way. I tried to get out of the car but it was closed in around me. As they got closer my vision started to fade at the edges getting smaller and smaller until everything went black.
Next thing I know I’m laying on a hard thin mattress with a lumpy pillow behind my head. As my eyes started to focus I realized I was laying in a hospital bed with an IV sticking out of my arm. I couldn’t really think straight I was so tired. Even though it felt like I hadn’t moved in ages. Then it hit me like the burst of cold air in the dead of winter as you open a door to the outside world. I was in an accident a few hours ago, and I still didn’t know if Mike was okay or not. I wouldn’t let myself say or let alone think of the possibility that he might be dead. I couldn’t, I wouldn’t. There way no way I could go on if I figured out he was dead; how could I live with my self? I glanced over to the chair beside my bed where my father was sitting staring at the ceiling with tears in his eyes. “Dad?” I asked. He looked over at me and let out a breath, like he had been holding the whole time I had been here. He rushed over to me and started to cry. “It’s okay dad I’m okay how’s Mike?” I was trying to hold it together because before he said the words. “He’s pretty bad and in intensive care; they don’t know if he will make it.” he said. Right after he said that I immediately felt tears streaming down my face. I don’t know how long I cried but I must have drifted off because I jolted awake. I looked over and saw both of my parents sitting there with devastation written all over there faces. I was confused at first because I thought at least one of them would be with Mike. So I asked “ What’s going on?”. Then my mom broke down into tears. My dad even got choked up. He looked over at me with tears streaming down his face and said “Mike was in surgery and they couldn’t save him when he stopped breathing.” I looked at my dad all blurry eyed
“ What!, he’s gone and it all my fault!” I blurted as sobs began to rip through my chest. The worst part is my parents said nothing; they didn’t even try to comfort me and then after I left the hospital they never really spoke to me mostly just to say hello or goodbye.
I wouldn’t let myself remember anymore as I came back to the present. The tears that were streaming down my face just as every other time I thought about that night. Hopefully I don’t have to retell that story to anyone. I didn’t think I would ever be able to and I wouldn’t where I was going, because I was on my way to a place where where no one knows my name or my story. Some place I could run from all the devastation I had caused and deal with what I had done on my own.