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People kept walking. Cars kept moving. The world kept spinning. Time kept flying. But it felt like I was on pause. Everything around me was still in motion, but I stayed put. Everything should be on pause too. People should stop walking, cars should stop moving, the world can stop spinning, and time can stop. Doesn’t anyone care? Dylan is dead. No one should be happy. No one should be laughing. No one should be smiling. Dylan’s gone. Why doesn’t anyone understand?
I pulled my knees closer to my body and rested my chin on them. Cool wind blew past me, my hair flying in all directions. I didn’t fix it. I just sat there staring at the gravestone, in complete silence. Every person on the face of the earth should be here with me. But they weren’t and that’s what hurt. Was I really the only person that cared for Dylan? That couldn’t be true, he had friends that loved him. His family loved him. I loved him.
My heart ached, this must only be a bad dream. Soon, I’ll wake up and see that I have one missed text like always. It will be from Dylan and it will say: “good morning love”. I’ll smile and text him back. He’ll text back and so on. I’d eventually tell him that I need to take a shower. Then, when I finished, I’d text him. He’d text back. That’s how it always went. Sometimes, he’d come over to my house and we’d hide out in my room. Nothing would happen, but if something did, my parents wouldn’t care. I could be pregnant right now and they wouldn’t even notice. Dylan and I would sit on my bed and play Gamecube, we normally versed in Mario Kart. We’d talk about the future, what we wanted to do, where we wanted to live, how many kids we wanted. Over time, the future turned into our future.
We were sitting on my bed, like any other time. Dylan just lost in Mario Kart for the first time in ages.
“Something bothering you,” I asked. He never loses, he always wins.
“I was just thinking,” he replied, setting his controller down.
“Our?” I looked at him, my heart stopped. He said “our”, not “the”.
“Yeah, our future. I know we’re young but I can’t imagine a future without you. Rachel, I want to be with you forever and ever until the day I die. I’ve never felt so sure about anything before. Without you, life means nothing to me.”
“We want the same things in life: a family, a stable job, and a house over our head. Why can’t we achieve those together? We both want three kids. We both want to go to Paris on our honeymoon. We both want to buy a run down house to fix up with the one we love. Why can’t we do that together? Rachel, I want you to be my wife.”
That’s when our future, or our forever as Dylan called it, started. But that means nothing to me now. He’s gone. My future holds me staying cooped up in my bedroom, cursing and crying. Asking God why he took Dylan from me. Asking him why he ruined my life. Everyone else would keep living while I slowly wilted away in sorrow. No one would visit my grave. I would be just another person that died. No big loss here. Maybe my parents would realize I was gone when the fridge never ran out of food. Or when the house started to collect dust. Only one person would notice, but he was already dead. He left me alone in this scary world.
I closed my eyes and just listened to the wind. Maybe, if I was lucky, it’d blow me away. If I was even luckier, it’d blow me back in time so I could stop Dylan. So I could say I loved him, then maybe he’d still be alive. A tear slid down my cheek. This was all my fault. If I didn’t have that fight with him, he’d be here. Alive. He’d be holding my hand, we’d be walking through the park, happier than ever. Our forever still in reach. That road is blocked now.
Slowly, I got up off the ground and opened my eyes. The one rose I put on his gravestone blew away. I sighed.
“Same time tomorrow, Dylan. I love you.,” I whisper to the wind as I walk away.
When I finally got home, I instantly knew something was wrong. I knew because both of my parents cars were parked in the driveway. They’re never home, ever. Well, occasionally on holidays but other than that, they’re working. I had to learn how to keep myself alive. I wasn’t sure if I should go inside. What if another person died? What if it was my only other friend, Travis? What if he followed Dylan? My heart was pounding when I opened the front door.
“Finally,” mom’s voice boomed from the dinning room.
My voice shook, “Hey.”
“Where were you?”
“Dylan’s grave.” Tears bubbled at the words.
“We want to have a word with you,” mom stated.
I walked to the dinning room, shaking. What were they gonna say? That they’re getting a divorce? I wouldn’t be surprised.
“Sit,” dad commanded.
Mom stole a glance at dad. She looked nervous, anxious even. Her hair was a messy, falling out of her normally neat bun. She was still wearing her business skirt and jacket, which was now unbuttoned. Mom folded her hands on the table and rubbed her thumb against her other fingers. She wrinkled her brow and bit her lip. “Well, tell her already, Nathan,” she whispered to dad. Her voice quivered and I could see the tears rising to her eyes. I hated to see a beautiful woman like her cry.
“Right,” dad said, his voice strong and authoritative. He didn’t seem nervous or shaken. He had taken the time to change out of his work clothes and into something more comfortable. I noticed that he was hiding his hands under the table. My mind was trying to come to some conclusion about this family meeting.
“What is it,” I asked slowly.
“There’s two things. One, me and your mother are going to get a divorce,” he said staring at me.
I sighed, no surprise there. They were hardly home, but when they were, all they did was fight. Doors would slam, dishes would break, cursing would ring throughout the house. One time, dad threw a coffee mug at mom. It missed her and shattered on the ground, thankfully. There was another time when dad didn’t show his face at home for a month. He stayed at a hotel outside of town, he called once to make sure I was doing okay. I didn’t answer.
“Why,” I asked, pretending to be clueless.
“We just don’t love each other any more.”
“We just don’t.”
“You have to have a better reason than that.”
“Your father was seeing another woman.” Mom spoke, not looking up from her hands. “And I was seeing another man.”
My heart literally stopped beating. They both were cheating on each other. I was on my mom’s side when dad left for a month, but now, I didn’t know who’s side to be on. Now I’d have to choose between them and decide who I wanted to live with. I’d basically be saying “You’re the better parent, I want to live with you”. But neither of them are the better parent. They cheated on each other. They don’t really care about me. I was not going to choose.
“Why,” I asked.
“Why what,” my dad snapped.
“Why did you cheat on mom? Why did mom cheat on you? You guys love each other, why would you cheat?” I knew they didn’t love each other. I knew they cheated because they found someone else to love. I knew that my dad would probably ground me after this, for acting dumb. He knows I’m smart. He tells me so when he’s home. I’d ask stupid little questions on math homework, just wanting my dad to notice me. All he’d say is, “You’re a smart girl, you can figure it out yourself”. I normally did. But right now, nothing truly made sense in my head.
“Rachel, you aren’t old enough to understand how fragile love is,” my dad said after calming himself down. “Love is like a story, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Your mother and I went through the beginning - the mushy gushy stage. The stage when we didn’t want to be apart from each other, when we’d hold hands whenever we had the chance, we even kissed like no one was watching. But that stage slowly faded into the middle stage - the rough patch. It’s full of tiny, pointless arguments that made us mad at each other but we would get over the fights quickly. We got married during this chapter in our story and we stayed in this chapter; never moving on to the happy ending part.
“I wanted to be with your mother forever, deep down I did. Slowly, the rough patch turned into war. I couldn’t handle it. No matter how much I loved your mother, I didn’t want the fighting. So, I cheated on her because I wanted to go back to the mushy, gushy stage. Your mom wanted that too. We couldn’t just turn back to the last chapter and forget all the arguments. To be honest, neither of us are strong enough to get over the fights we’ve had. We still hang on to them and don’t let go. So, we both thought that it’d be better for us to move on.”
Dad looked at me in a different way, like he was sorry. I sat there, taking it in. My dad was never that deep with anything, but I guess this was a serious topic. I was thankful that my parents actually wanted to talk to me about it. But I still don’t know what to think about it.
“Honey, maybe you should head upstairs, it’s been a long day,” mom soothed. She reached over and put her hand on mine. “You’ve had a lot of bad news in the past two weeks, I’m sorry.” When she said that, I knew she meant it.
“It’s not your fault,” I replied.
Mom sighed, “Okay, we’ll talk about the other thing later. I’ll go out and buy us a pizza.” She got up from the table and walked to the door.
“I’ll be in the office,” dad said, leaving me at the table alone.
My mind was bubbling over. I had to vent to someone, but who? Dylan was gone. I sighed and went upstairs.
I held the knife inches away from my wrist. Is this how I wanted to release my anger? Is this what I wanted to become, a cutter? How would Dylan react? The knife grew closer to my skin, my heart racing. Nothing was making sense. Life was pointless right now; my boyfriend dead and now my parents are splitting up. No one was here to help me with my problems. No one was here just to listen. Dylan would listen. Dylan would help. Dylan would be there for me. Always. I let the knife slip out of my hand and onto the ground. Tears stung my eyes.
I remember when I first met Dylan, on the bus to Chuckie Cheese. The whole seventh grade class was going there as our end of the year trip. I used to have friends back then, Callie and Maria. I sat with them on the bus, giggling over something funny. Dylan sat in front of us with this guy named Luke. They would both turn to look at us and ask why we were laughing. We didn’t have an answer. Luke and Callie were going out, it was an off and on relationship, right now they were on.
“Just tell me why your laughing,” Luke said to Callie.
“No,” Callie laughed.
“Maria, tell me.” She shook her head “no”.
Luke sighed, “What about you, ginger?” He was talking to me, no one really knew my name; I was just called “Callie’s friend” or “Maria’s friend” or “ginger”, my name was a mystery. I hated each nickname, especially the last one. So what if my hair was on the orange side? Was that a problem? Apparently.
“She has a name,” Dylan spoke softly, staring at me.
“I don’t care,” he turned to me, “what’s so funny?”
“I said, she has a name.”
“Why is that important?”
“It’s Rachel,” Dylan caught my gaze. His brown hair was spiked up, he had a goofy smile on his face, and he had the prettiest blue eyes.
“Really? That’s your name,” Callie asked, after she stopped laughing.
I nodded, still looking at Dylan.
“I didn’t know that.”
“That’s okay, no one does,” I whispered.
When we got to Chuckie Cheese, Maria pulled me aside. Her blond hair was pulled into a pony tail and she looked upset.
“Look...Rachel,” Maria said slowly. “We agreed that Callie gets Luke and I get Dylan, remember? So, stop flirting with him and let me do that. He’s mine.”
“Right,” I muttered, glancing over to where Dylan was shoving pizza in his mouth. He was so cute.
“Okay, so just don’t talk to him.”
Maria smiled and bounced off to Dylan. I never really talked to Dylan ever, but my heart ached knowing that Maria wanted him. He seemed so nice and down to earth, he even knew my name! I slowly walked over to the booth where all of them sat. Maria shot me a glance and instead of sitting on the other side of Dylan, I sat next to Callie.
After we finished eating pizza, Maria and Callie went to the bathroom to “freshen up”. I stayed put. I knew Maria was upset about that. Dylan got up from the table.
“I’m gonna play some ski ball, wanna come Rachel?” he asked.
A lump rose in my throat, screw Maria. “Yeah, sure.”
So over about ten games of ski ball, I fell in love. Dylan told me all his secrets and I told him mine in return. He enchanted me, the way he spoke so calmly and didn’t care if I responded to what he said. When I spoke, he listened and didn’t interrupt me. Slowly, I fell in love with him. Nothing Maria would say to me, would make me stop loving him. He was just so perfect. Dylan trusted me even though we just met. I felt complete.
But I was a stupid seventh grader back then, I didn’t know what love was. I used to think love was a different word for “like, liking” some one. Dylan showed me it was more. It wasn’t just a word, it was a feeling. One of the strongest feelings a human could ever feel. Now I was feeling something else; abandonment, betrayal, hate, love, and sadness wrapped into one. My sides ached as I moaned and let the tears stream down my rosy cheeks. He meant so much to me. I gave up my friends to be with him. I remember that day, the day of the fight.
It was two weeks after the trip to Chuckie Cheese. Dylan and I realized we had three classes together, we never noticed each other before the bus ride. We talked nonstop, at school, on the phone, and through AIM. One day, about a month after the trip, he asked if I wanted to be his best friend since he didn’t have one. We were walking through the park when he asked me, confused, I asked about Luke.
“Luke? Pah, he’s just a friend. I’ve never had a best friend,” he said, kicking a rock in front of him.
“A best friend is some one who will love you for yourself, not for who you pretend to be. Around Luke, I pretend I’m into the things he likes, like that new shooting game that came out for Gamecube. I absolutely hate war video games, it’s almost encouraging kids to kill people. I pretend I’m this strong guy when I’m really weak, both emotionally and physically. I never told anyone my secrets, well besides you.”
“Why did you tell me,” I whispered.
He stopped walking, so did I. We stood in silence, watching each other. I wondered if I said something wrong, something that hurt his feelings.
“I told you because I knew I could trust you.”
“We never talked so how did you know?”
“You ask a lot of questions,” he laughed.
“I know, I just like knowing the answers.”
“I knew I could trust you because you were in the same situation as me. We both had friends but no best friend; after realizing that, I wanted to become your best friend.”
“How do you know I have no best friend?”
“Don’t tell me Callie and Maria are your best friends?”
“They’re not. But I do have one best friend.”
Dylan frowned, “Who?”
“You,” I said, giving him a hug. A very big, long hug. That’s when I heard it - footsteps. They were coming closer and closer. I looked in the direction they were coming from. My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach - it was Maria and Callie.
Maria had tears in her eyes and her arms crossed. “What’s this?”
Callie shoved her, “I thought we were gonna play it cool, then get on her tail.”
“I skipped the play it cool part,” Maria snapped. “I told you Dylan was mine, ginger.”
Dylan slipped out of my arms, my only sense of protection was gone.
“Maria, really, maybe this is a misunderstanding,” Callie stated.
“No, she’s hugging my crush, that’s a rule in the friendship handbook.”
“Friendship handbook?” I asked.
“Yeah, you signed your name at the beginning of the school year. Signing is a promise that you won’t break the rules.”
My heart dropped, I had to give Dylan up.