Memories

July 10, 2011
A movie plays but I don’t see it. I catch the lead girl’s singsong voice: “We’ll be together forever. I just know it.” She could learn a thing or two, I think. You won’t be together forever, I want to tell her. I just know it.

Out of nowhere, I sense those arms and how tightly they could wrap me up, holding me close to his heart, promising “forever” without saying a word. I see the invisible patterns his fingers would trace up and down my arm during our conversations; the more intent he became, the more flurried the images. And the pain rushes forth, waves I cannot dodge. I blink, then force my eyelids shut. Trying, like I so often do, to close out all feeling, I manage to salvage some composure and continue my charade of watching the movie, surrounded by classmates scribbling notes, texting under the table, and snickering, all immune to the emotions threatening to consume me. The past calls to me far more loudly than the present, and I find it a great struggle to focus. Once the worst is over, I resettle myself in the plastic seat. Imperceptibly I shrug off the moment, the assignment, the week, and stare at the screen until the bell releases me from this room.

The hallway is crammed with students. A myriad of emotions whirl past, all absorbed in their own worlds. I find it repulsive until I remind myself that I have been stuck in my own thoughts for the past seven months. Seven months is a long time, especially to hide away behind the fragments of the person I once was. Seven months is a long time to feel nothing except for the re-shattering of my badly worn heart every single time I hear him say my name, but know I’m hearing nothing at all. Seven months is a long time to have cried yourself to restless sleep every single night. It is a long time to have not smiled, not laughed, and not loved anything but a memory.

I sit down in my next class, ready to stare blankly yet again at the teacher, then the screen, and then my homework assignment. Because that’s how it always is, I tell myself. I have only a few more weeks and then….summer. The joy of that word twists my stomach. I just want out of here, that’s all I really care about. Somewhere I don’t have to pretend that I’m okay. As my melancholy thoughts unfurl, I am startled. The voice of my English teacher, a voice usually so calm and monotonous, fills the room. All eyes are on her as she begins.

“Class, today I have a special assignment for you. I know how much you all love essays”-a chorus of groans-“so I am going to hand out the requirements right now. All class time today will be utilized to begin your own essay.”

At this, she goes around, shuffling papers and counting, placing them at the head of a column, moving on. My eyes follow her, the resentment mixing with curiosity. I hate when teachers can’t let the school days flow without interruption! But I find myself intrigued; something in her eyes, her lively manner, makes me anxious. When the information sheet is passed to me over the head of Hannah, the student in front of me, I snatch it and scan. There is no title, but begins straight off with a paragraph:

“Sometimes, life throws a curve you have not been prepared to deal with. Sometimes, something happens that we don’t see a way of moving past it. Events like these almost always change a person, good or bad, or both, but the person changed can’t always see it. I want you to choose one event in your life that has challenged your mind, your heart, and your entire self, and write about it. I want your perspective, your feelings, and no one else’s. If it hurts, embrace it. If it makes you mad, let it burn. However it makes you feel, bring that inside of you and channel it into words. Express what you need to and get your story across, no matter how difficult remembering may be.”

Once I read the end of the paragraph, the extra white of the paper stares at me. I stare back, feeling so much it seems like I’m feeling nothing at all. It’s only when I feel her eyes on me that I lift my head. We meet, her gaze curious and caring, mine full of contempt and the undeniable pain. She dismisses the class to the computer lab but I sit, forced into my seat with the weight of the past, and the challenge staring up at me from my desk and from my teacher. I expect her to come over and talk to me, spewing out rehearsed words of reassurance and finish off with a pat on the back. To my surprise, she lowers her head and walks out the door. I hear it click and, silently thanking her for her kindness, I lower myself to the floor, curling around my shaking body and let his presence overpower me once more.





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