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The Front Page Story
Standing at the edge of a cliff. That’s what it felt like. Facing two options; jump or step back. The dream I kept having after it happened. Always the same dream.
I never talk about it. My family has tried, a psychiatrist tried, they even sent me to the doctor to get a cat scan. Nothing they do will make me forget. Parts of me don’t want to forget that night. While another part is telling me to talk about it, then I’ll be able to forget it. The only person I’ve even considered telling isn’t really even here. I guess you could describe it like that. My friend is challenged, mentally. He is usually off in his own world where there’s nothing to do and everything is perfect.
The only reason I know Roger is because of my mom. She made me volunteer at the mental institute. I thought it was stupid and not worth wasting my time on. I kept that opinion through the first few days, but then I started to see how little you had to do to earn these people’s trust. I’ve been betrayed before, so I know what it feels like. Once I saw how much they trusted me, I figured that I couldn’t let them down. So I kept up going. Soon the actual staff started to let me help with meals and other day to day stuff. That’s when I met Roger. He was new, so they had to give him special attention.
In his first week there he had caused all kinds of trouble. He had run loose through the halls screaming and upsetting all the other patients, thrown his food across the room; almost starting a food fight, and just wasn’t cooperating at all. It was during one of his outbursts that he saw me. All of a sudden he stopped, looked at me, and made a noise that sounded like there was something caught in his throat. The aids still don’t know why I calm him down, but they know enough to let me take over. It might be because I just listen to him and don’t try to stop him. Ever since then I visit him every day possible.
I’m not entirely sure I want to tell him though. Because you don’t always know what he hears or what he’ll understand and relay onto the other aids that help him. Otherwise I would tell him everything. Especially since I thought about bringing him along that night. From the day it started, to the accident.
I try to act natural and go about my regular routine, but sometimes it’s just not worth the effort of faking it. Those are the days that most people open up a wide berth around me and leave me alone. Everyone knows some little rumor about the accident. At first they would come and ask me if it was true. With each person I started to crack my knuckles more and more. Around the sixth person, I blew up. I shouted that none of those stupid and petty rumors are true, so just mind your own business. No one has asked me about the accident since.
Screaming. The dark. Nothing. More shouting, the struggling. The blackness. The sirens wailing. All the noise and confusion it turned into. All adding up to one horrible, unforgettable night.
I try to sleep, but I still can’t. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t go to sleep. It might be because of all the dark. I used to love the dark, I could even sleep all day in the bliss of ignorance that hides the truth of the horrible reality around me. Now I need the light on to even relax in the slightest. As soon as the lights go off, my mind goes into overdrive.
Her face, I can only see glimpses in the dark. The pure anger on it. Then the steely resolve that means one last stand.
I wish I would have stopped her. I revisit in my mind, trying to convince myself that I did all that I could. But every time I know what I should have done. I should have done more to stop her. I shouldn’t have believed her. I should have made her see some hope.
Since I was the only one to survive, the police wanted to know everything from me. There weren’t any witnesses to ask. No one was around. It was just me, Shayna, and Tom, in the middle of the woods. None of us knew how bad things would get that night.
There has always been trouble in my life. It just seems to follow me. Even if I didn’t have anything to do with it, whatever happens gets blamed on me. Until the accident. There really wasn’t any possible way that it was my fault for the accident.
Shayna also had a troubled life. She had trouble at home, at school, everywhere. I guess that’s why we became friends. We both know what it’s like to be in a tight spot and get blamed for everything. The pressure from all that trouble was finally too much I guess.
Tom was just the nobody at school, the outcast. We started talking and soon we were sort of friends. Not the best buds like the sport jocks, but friends that just talk together. With Tom added to our little group, we got called the Trouble Trio; wherever we went, there was always trouble of some sort.
Tom’s scheme for our Friday Night Run that week wasn’t fully formed, but I could already tell that he wanted it to be big. I went through the motions of helping them come up with the plan, but my heart wasn’t in it, unlike Shayna who seemed to be even more into it than usual. We usually did a practical joke on someone every Friday night, just to keep this small, sleepy little town jumping. We never hurt anyone severally. Only sticking to small things that were just jokes. But that night Tom wanted to do something bigger. Something that would make the front page of the town newspaper. He brought up ideas all through the week, but couldn’t think of anything big enough. We all finally decided to take all of our stuff and just see what happened.
Friday night came and we loaded all of our stuff and headed out. While we were driving around, looking for our target, it started to drizzle. No big deal; we had worked in the rain before. It turned to a sprinkle, then to a light rain. I was glad I hadn’t brought Roger along; he hated the rain. Sometimes I brought him along to give him a taste of the real world. Something had told me to just leave him at the institute this time.
Tom thought that we maybe could use the rain in our prank. It was an okay idea, but we had done that before. Finally we saw a party up ahead. The music was pounding and the lights were all blazing. We had found our target. We started with covering the doors in plastic wrap, and then we did the windows the same way. Then we tried to chalk all the cars, except the rain kept washing it off. So we spray painted the bushes instead. After the bushes were turned into rainbows, we T.P.ed the trees. Then we set up a trip wire across the sidewalk to trip everyone as they came stumbling out of the house. We decided that it was as good as we could do. Tom rang the doorbell and pounded on the house. Then we ran, so we didn’t see what happened.
As we were driving away, Tom was frustrated that we didn’t do more. “We should have popped the tires on the cars.”
“That would’ve been too much I think.” I said.
“How would that’ve been too much?” Shayna asked, flipping her long, blond hair over her shoulder.
I replied, “I don’t know, that’s just more severe than we have done in the past.”
“You of all people should know that the past really doesn’t matter anymore.” Tom interjected.
“Shut up” I said in a low voice, cracking my knuckles
“Ooo, you better listen Tom, he sounds really serious.” Shayna laughed, still delirious from the adrenaline rush.
“Whatever.” He replied, tapping his knee, which meant deep thought on his part.
I don’t remember the rest of the conversation after that, other than it turned into laughing and joking. Nothing serious about it.
Suddenly after around a half an hour of driving I realized we hadn’t gotten back to town yet. “Where are we Shayna?” I asked in a cautious voice.
“Yeah, where in the world are we?” Tom repeated after me, starting to tap his leg again.
“How am I supposed to know? You two kept distracting me so I couldn’t follow where we were going.” Shayna replied, frustrated.
“You’ve lived here almost your entire life; you should know the way back to town by heart.” Tom said in a worried tone.
Shayna was getting mad, “Aren’t people allowed to forget things sometimes?” she snapped.
I cut in before things could get ugly. “Hey, hey, yes people are allowed to forget things, but that isn’t going to help us get back to town.”
“Okay fine. But then how do we get back to town?” Tom asked again.
“Just let me think for a second!” Shayna shouted.
We fell silent as we watched Shayna look around frantically, searching for a familiar landmark.
The rain outside started to get harder, turning into just short of a downpour. We couldn’t see anything. “I think we should pull over and let the rain lighten up a little before getting even more lost.” I suggested.
Shayna pulled over and turned around to look at us. “I don’t know if there will be a better time, so I’m gonna tell you something. I’m having way too much trouble at home. There isn’t a time that I can sit down and not get yelled at.” Shayna started to say.
“Um, okay, but where is this going?” Tom interrupted, always wanting to push things along.
Shayna glared at him, “Just listen.”
Tom and I sat back and listened to how hard her life was getting. We were just about to stop her and get going again when she concluded with “So I’m not going to keep fighting it. I’m letting go.”
With that she stepped out of the car and walked toward the woods. Tom and I both stopped and stared at each other, stunned. Then it hit us and we jumped out of the car to follow her, but is I hit the ground I landed in a huge mud puddle and slid. I whacked my head on the floor of the car as I went down and everything turned black.
When I came back around, I could see Tom and Shayna wrestling on the ground, with something flashing occasionally with the lightning in the sky. As I got up to help Tom, I heard them yelling.
“Why, Shayna? Why are you doing this?”
“Because there isn’t any point to my life, and I don’t believe anything anymore!”
“You don’t trust that we are your friends and that we actually care whether or not you kill yourself?”
“If you want to call yourself my friend, then you would understand and let me do this.”
“NO! I’m your friend and I’m not going to let you kill yourself.”
That’s when I got there. Since I’m bigger than the other two, I can hold them both down at the same time. That came in handy because that’s what I needed to do to get the knife they were fighting over.
“Thank you Cory! Can you convince her? She won’t believe me that we care!”
“Give it to me Cory, if you agree with Tom and call yourselves my friends, then give it back. You know how bad I need to do this.”
I tried to sound calm, but my voice shook anyway as I said, “Leave my past out of this. Right now you need to see that I overcame my problems and you can to.”
Tom sat by, watching this take place. Shayna started to cry, “Okay, I’ll try to work them out.”
I should have known that it was just a trick. Shayna had always been good at acting and tricking people.
“Good.” I said as I lowered the knife down to my waist, which was a huge mistake.
Shayna immediately lunged for it, I tried to move it, but I wasn’t fast enough. Shayna got the knife, Tom grabbed her and swung her around while trying to avoid her frantic slashes with the knife. As he did, she kicked and caught me square in the chest. I fell for the second time that night and my head hit a sharp rock. I groaned as everything turned black once more.
I think it took longer for me to wake up that time. When I finally did, I wished I was still unconscious. What I saw is now forever a horrid picture in my mind. The rain had stopped, but the car doors were still open, the grass was all torn up, the knife laid glinting in the moonlight, and there were two mounds; neither were moving.
Ignoring the sticky blood still running down my scalp from my falls, I reached for my cell phone, suddenly remembering that it was in my pocket. I dialed 911 in a trance.
Soon sirens wailed in the distance. After they arrived and started taking over, I tried to leave, but they stopped me, wanting to know everything. It might have been the concussion I got from falling so hard, but all I could think about right then was how Tom had made the front page of the newspaper. Just like he wanted.