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Forget Me Not
Remember the best day of your life?
Not a minute of that day, where I laughed, and my tears were only those of happiness. I’m sure I’ve had a day like that, probably a lot. Maybe more than I can count on all my fingers and toes. But I can’t remember.
Remember the worst day of your life?
The day where it felt the world would tear apart, dissipate and leave me to float away in the blackness of outer space, but never did.
Do you remember crying? I do. I had shed more tears than I can count on all my fingers and toes.
And I can’t forget.
I am the ocean. My arms are the waves, gently lapping upon the shore. The features of my face are nothing but the foam churning on the crests of blue water. Though I slide peacefully up the beach, sifting the tiny granules of sand, beneath my salty surface is a burning power. A gull flies above my watery head and is momentarily stunned by my strength. The clouds shift and turn a deep gray. They fold down to me and I raise my liquid lips to kiss the storm. As we brush, a light flashes above and loud crackles fill the air. Something pierces my waters and pain shoots through my waves. I recoil in agony and recede. The pain is pulling me from the shore. No, it’s drying me up. The cool touch of my liquid skin evaporates and I am left choking in the sand. Gasping , I raise my head. The sky has broken into a clear blue, filled with the glimmer of the ocean that was my body, each wave slowly drifting away, flapping like a bird. A shard of silver water floats down toward my outstretched palm. I desperately grab for it, try to save a piece of my past self, but it flits away from my grasps before I can trap it beneath my fingers. The glittering droplets fly away into the clouds, leaving me burning in the sand.
Light streams through the closed shutters above my bed. I blink at the dull green of the walls and my ears do an instinctive wince from the blaring beep from the alarm clock. I’m wrapped up in blankets. All my thrashing last night twisted the covers around my legs. My shirt has left red marks on my skin, which sting when I poke at them. The whir of the washing machine rumbles under my bed.
I hoist myself onto the wooden floor, smooth and polished beneath my bare feet. I catch a quick glimpse of Dad in the kitchen , sipping his microwaved latte and staring mindlessly at law papers. I slip into the bathroom unnoticed, as usual.
Breakfast is a silent fare, father and daughter both noiselessly stewing over mushy bowls of Rice Krispies and stale bagels because no one would put them back in the breadbox. A few times I try to catch a glimpse of the light hazel of his eyes, so different from my deep blue ones, but not once does he look in my direction, so I look down at the pale concoction of cereal in my bowl.
Soon I’m staring at the sleek black of the interior in the Taurus, as we barrel down the highway. Dad always drives like we’re already ten minutes late for an important meeting, even though it’s just dropping off his daughter at her high school, forty minutes before the first bell rings.
While I wait to be let into the building, I usually draw. In the margins of my statistics homework my mechanical pencil loops and swirls into intricate designs, shaded and sometimes graceful looking. Sometimes I’ll copy the designs onto my skin, along my collar bone right beneath my shirt, or my ankles if I’m wearing jeans or slacks
No one knows I can draw. It’s a part of my secret self, my clone that is made of secrets instead of skin and breathes doubt instead of oxygen. And I wear her around all the time, but no one will ever know.
At school, I walk alone. I’m not unpopular, just unapproachable. I live in a bubble, smooth and clear. My eyes stay still and distant, and simply glide over the activities of other students, tune out their gossip, though it’s probably about me. About the estranged girl and her rich lawyer father, their mangled household. No, they can’t gossip about that, because as far as they know, we’re perfect. It was just the mother that was the problem.
Seven years ago, there was a divorce case. A very ugly one. The messiest divorce that the town had seen for years. And everyone in the town knew about it.
The Sanders Vs. Ward case.
I was ten, with translucent blond hair cascading down my back, clipped with a flowered barrette. I sat in the courtroom on the polished bench, which smelled like lemon cleaner and the faintest scent of sawdust. There was dust settled like a blanket behind my seat and I drew lines in it, coating my fingertips with grime. Behind me the adults were talking, sometimes in hushed whispers, but then exploding into loud yelling, before whispering again, like they forgot I was listening to them fight.
I didn’t care. At the time I was still too young to understand what was happening. I just wanted my mom and dad to stop screaming at each other. If a little more screaming was what it had to take to get them to stop, I was okay with that.
That night it was raining, when a big man who worked with my dad took my hand and led me into a car. He gave me a silver Ipod to listen to and I watched the buildings go by past the window, office windows glowing a bright orange in the dark. That night I stayed in a motel with my aunt and my cousins. I got to have a bed all to myself, but I cried so much that I didn’t sleep at all.
That night is the one thing I will always remember.
I have no more memories of that year, and beyond. Once I left the courtroom, the world began to blur, its edges becoming fuzzy as though forever stained by oncoming tears. My past seemed to fly away, each small, happy event slipping through my fingers like syrup, with only the sticky film of remembrance remaining.
Nobody knows this. Ignorant teachers sometimes pin me as ADHD, but that’s not the case. I can focus well and learn, but then forget everything until a month later. And to remember a name it needs to be repeated for a long time, longer than anyone would want to stick around for.
At school, I’m not attachable. The key to friendships is memory, of the good times, and the bad. And by this point, I’m even past caring about who doesn’t sit with me at lunch.
No one wants to be floating out in a blank space with me, and I don’t have the heart to pull anyone in.
The cold. I need the cold. Cold stops, numbs, preserves. In my mind, it’s freezing. And I like it that way.
But she is still haunting me. Last night she crept into my dreams and melted away the ice, letting the flood of memories free.
You must not forget me...
I think I woke up screaming.
Next to me, the radio is going full blast. I switch it off and change. I can hear Aunt Kristin humming loudly to herself down the hall. My room is still dark, but some light through the window is reflecting off the group of photo frames on my nightstand. Under the glass of a green bordered picture, her face smiles up at me. I take the picture and shove it under a pile of clothes under my dresser.
I go into the bathroom and splash some water in my face. In the mirror, my reflection stares at me with heavy bags under his eyes, droplets trailing down his face from his cropped brown hair. Bruised shadows crawl down his sharp cheekbones. His eyes scream hurt, swirling deep inside the blue iris like the dark on the bottom of a swimming pool.
My mirror me smirks, and by the time he disappears out the bathroom door the mask is on, a smooth shell of perfect persona.
And I’m the only one who knows the truth.
At school I am followed. By everyone. I’ll walk down the hall as drooling junior girls drip off my arm. Guys I don’t even know or like will flank me like wolves. I don’t know what makes them like me, but I must seem a lot more likable than I think of myself. Even teachers will let me get away with lost homework. And they still do after two years of “losing” my homework about three times a week.
After second period I walk out to the east side of the courtyard. Some other guys are sitting on the wooden picnic tables, and I go join them. I recognize one of them from lacrosse, and it looks like he knows me. Jim’s his name, I think. Jim Selic. He grins at me and hands me a cigarette. I take it with a lighter that has a picture of Derek Jeter. After a puff I get lightheaded, but with my Monday blues I don’t really care.
The September breeze is cool and the cigarette smoke drifts up lazily in the blue sky. Around me the other guys are laughing about some girl’s ass when the bell goes off in the distance. I head back to the school, stubbing my smoke on the brick wall of the school before dropping it in the Ashtray, a hole dug by all the potheads and smokers behind a bush where old cigarettes are hidden.
In Pre-Calc some kids are finishing the project we were working on, so I ask to be excused and lock myself in the bathroom stall. I lean my head against the door and close my eyes.
Just like last night, crawling her way into my subconscious as I toss in my sweaty sheets. I don’t know why that she’s come back after so many years. A chill slides down my spine. I don’t believe in any supernatural crap. Maybe someones trying to tell me something, like you don’t deserve eight hours of sleep each night.
Whatever it is, no one should be haunted like this.