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And They Cried, It's Not Fair

A gentle, terrible hush. Crumbling into their kitchens, offices, bedroom floors; wherever people find themselves when they get the news.

A funny thing, they said it was, how life goes on. For the Earth will always spin on its wretched axis, even after it has hurled at its inhabitants, a tragedy. Twirling as it was, they could have sworn it was frozen.

The mommies and daddies subtly thanked God it wasn’t their child. The schoolteachers were plagued by the thought of class resuming, for his desk would be unoccupied. The neighbors sent smiling bouquets of flowers streaming on to their front porch, as if daisies and lilacs can tend to such a wound. Let’s try roses tomorrow. The friends embraced one another, sobbing out their rage at a world that would snatch their friend from existence. The ambulance driver and the autopsy man shoved that lump of anguish from their throats to their stomachs as they touched, delicately, the body of a dead seventeen year old. This was their job, and a job must be done. The principals pondered their task at hand, district policy it was, to offer artificial consolation. The relatives, oh the poor relatives. They perched quietly in the living room, begging the good Lord what they possibly could have done wrong, but not listening for His silent reply. The young girl’s knees gave way to her despair, as she fell on to the floor and buried her head deep into her hands. Wondering if she’d ever be the same. And the unaffected, yes they wept too. They wept, and consoled, and ached, and wrote poetry, for death was death either way.

The mommies and daddies tried to preserve some sense of normalcy, and laughable, was that attempt. What was normal when a child was ripped from the Earth, even if it wasn’t theirs? Come here darling, it’ll be alright. What else can you say to your weeping daughter curled up in your lap? What else can you say to your weeping son, floodgates for his eyes? At a loss for words, they said not much of anything. The mommies let the same phrase roll off their tongues as they cradled their precious babies like they had fifteen years ago. When they were whole. Come here darling, it’ll be alright. And the daddies tore their eyes away from the piles of despair they called their children. Be strong, son, they longed to say. But even the daddies knew that right now strength is a fantasy.

The schoolteachers closed their textbooks and stared blankly at the cover, figuring that perhaps mathematics wasn’t quite so important. Dread began to accumulate as they envisioned 30 mangled and confounded students walking in their classroom door this Monday morning. What can a teacher teach today? What good is a derivative when a child is in his grave? They nervously scanned their classrooms, but avoided his desk at all costs. He had never been their favorite, but it was now that they remembered the gleam of potential in his eyes. Too late. Would he show up on the attendance sheet today? Or worse yet, would he not?
Come here darling, it’ll be alright. What can a teacher teach today?

The young children were specifically instructed not to bother big brother and big sister. But why? We never had to leave them alone before. The statement was muttered as a question. How can you explain such pain to a child? Honey, they’re fragile. Fragile made no sense though. Glass was fragile, glass could break, it could shatter. Big sister, she wasn’t fragile. Big brother, nothing could break him.

The neighbors entertained themselves with chores. Don’t slow down, they silently urged themselves, don’t slow down. If they stopped, they would remember. Dinner, flowers, chores, more flowers. Don’t fret a thing, we will get it all done, we are, in fact, the most qualified, we are the closest. They hustled from moment to moment, puppets of their own quiet disdain. For seventeen years, they had been spectators of his adolescence. Tying shoes, riding bikes, driving cars, homecoming dances, and such silly teenager things. Gone didn’t make sense. No, maybe if they get it all done he’ll be back. Dinner, flowers, chores, more flowers.
Fragile made no sense though. Come here darling, it’ll be alright. Don’t slow down, don’t slow down.

The friends, they lost track of the days. Wednesday was identical to Monday, which was the same as Saturday. Hearts hollowed out and refilled with the tears of one another, they drew close. Nothing made sense. All they knew was that being alone was scary. It’s not fair, they cried out, crippled. It’s not fair. They no longer looked like teenagers, but rather fragments of broken glass. They hardly spoke to one another, for what was there to say? The idea of laughing was hysterical, for what could possibly be funny? The friends were told that life goes on, but they couldn’t quite solve that. No, it doesn’t go on without him, actually, but thank you anyway for your condolences. They clung to one another, as if clinging can suppress pain. Teenagers aren’t supposed to mourn. Teenagers aren’t supposed to vacantly wonder how to fill a space that shouldn’t exist.
They cried, it’s not fair, it’s not fair. It’s not fair.

The ambulance driver, the paramedic, the investigators, the autopsy man, were supposed to be immune to this. They carried out his body, placed his cold skin on a stretcher, and sighed deeply as they filled out their paper work. Another case, another file, another report, another emergency. Going about their daily business, latching themselves to the hope that they are some sort of hero, after all, someone has to do this. A tear slipped down their cheek, but this is not the place to grieve, not in the office, not at the scene of the incident. But something deep within their heroic hearts could not deny that seventeen is far too young.

The principals did their paperwork as well. An administrator was in no position to grieve. They pecked at their laptops with wrinkled fingers, dismayed at the speech they had typed up. It was the best combination of words they could fashion. 12 point, Times New Roman font, leaking on to a white page; how quickly they’ve been required to turn tragedy into cold, hard information. Between sentences they took deep breaths, rubbing their temples, and they’d never even met the child. Doesn’t matter. The number in attendance is now forever one less. A mighty wooden desk can only make a man feel so mighty before he, too, crumbles.
Seventeen is far too young. Come here darling, it’ll be alright. Teenagers aren’t supposed to mourn. An administrator was in no position to grieve.

The relatives gathered in the living room, but the bedroom was not to be touched. No one stated that rule, but some rules needn’t be said. Their eyes were stripped of the usual human glitter and replaced with a noticeable grey. The unsettled air choked their attempts at conversation. Guilt stepped on the toes of sadness. Silently, but with a terrible ache, they all cried. My baby, my brother, my grandson, my nephew. They pleaded with a God they could no longer love. Perhaps they pleaded with themselves. There’s nothing we could have done, a brave, brave soul would say. They looked around at the shattered eyes, awaiting something. One more chance to say I love you, wouldn’t that calm the raging sadness? There’s nothing we could have done, another supposed hero would whisper. The relatives nodded. But they all wondered.

The young girl’s eyes, blue as the sky, grew more frigid and more withdrawn. They no longer sparkled. She shook violently, half in disbelief, half in despair where she had collapsed. If God took him, He may just as well take her. What’s the point, she begged, cheeks drizzled with tears and runny mascara. Loneliness was a burden, but death, death was a monster. It hungered and thirsted, ravaged for her soul. Don’t make me leave, mom. I won’t go anywhere. She would remain there on her bedroom floor for hours, days if she could. She’d wander to the past, yes. But since when was a week ago the past? Since today he’s gone, and a week ago he wasn’t. Fine, she’d stand up and go. But the unaffected would have to watch her, a living hole, where he used to reside in her heart. The rings of her laughter grew vacant, stained with the wreckage of an unfinished life. Something would always be missing. And they’d all hope and pray desperately, that it would not take tears for those blue eyes to glitter again.
A mighty wooden desk can only make a man feel so mighty.
Come here darling, it’ll be alright.
Perhaps mathematics wasn’t quite so important.
Fragile made no sense though.
My, my, my.
It hungered and thirsted, ravaged for her soul.
And they cried, it’s not fair.

And for the unaffected, it seemed they grew more and more unaffected. But they did have scars to show. Peculiar scars, they were. For they were the scars of another, etched into their very own hearts. The wounds and the hardened sufferings of the relatives, the teachers, the friends. Even those of the mommies and daddies, the principal, the neighbors, and the autopsy man. And the unaffected, they had poems to show. Beautiful poems, eloquent poems. About angels and heaven. Desolate poems, heart wrenching poems. About a monster called death and weeping blue eyes.





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