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In Light of Love
My life was beautiful. I found the love of my life, Matt Robinson, in my freshmen year. We met in our science class. We both hated our teacher Mr. Benson because he had no clue what he was doing. When Mr. Benson would turn his back, we’d snicker. Looking back, it was kind of mean, but that’s what brought us together, which was all that mattered. When Matt wasn’t busy playing basketball, he would take me to a basketball court at our local rec-center and we’d play horse. Since he was so good at basketball, he got a scholarship to Syracuse University. He was excited, but he was also sad that we wouldn’t be going to the same school. He was sweet like that.
One day, I met a boy named Doug Greyson. He was troubled. We were in the same science class Junior year, and he failed it. I got to know him, but just barely. He never talked to me, except for the occasional ‘kay’ and ‘sure’. I tried to tutor him, but he never showed up. I didn’t know what was going on in his life, I just knew if wasn’t pleasant.
It was almost summer. You could smell it in the air, and sense it in the bodies of my whole senior class. The week before was Prom, and that was one of the best days of my life.
Matt took me. We danced all night. He took me home in his old rusty pick-up truck at about 12 a.m. and he slowly walked me up to my front door, high heels in my hand. We both didn’t want that moment to end. I dropped my shoes on the cold concrete below and embraced him for a final kiss, sweet and gentle like always. It seemed like hours before I actually was inside my house. I stood in the doorway until his tail-lights vanished and the warmth of his lips left mine.
The next week, I drove to school. Even though it was only 7:45, it was sunny and beautiful. The sun warmed my skin, and I almost didn’t make it out of my car because I was so lost in the moment. I finally made myself get up from my seat to find Matt.
People said we could be twins when we started dating. We both had dark black hair and winter white skin. The only difference was that he had deep, emerald green eyes that sparkled. They enveloped anyone who looked inside them. My eyes were an icy blue. He was a little taller than me, and he was lanky as ever. His smile got me in the beginning. And he always smiled.
We stayed hand in hand until the first bell rang. One good-bye kiss and we were on our way. I would get to see him in period three, and I was lucky enough to sit across the room from him. I could daydream and get lost in his eyes. When he would notice my gaze, he’d smile and mouth “I love you.” I’d smile back and reply “love you too.”
Until then, I traveled through my classes, having a good time in each class.
I was two levels ahead in my math class. It was something about its black or white answers that have always appealed to me. You’re either right or wrong, nothing in between.
I was whisked away in an unmovable stream of students to third period. I sat in my seat at the furthest edge of the class room, teetering on the brink of not being able to see the whiteboard.
Matt rushed in, sitting in his seat right next to the door as soon as the bell rang. He looked up from his desk to smile my way, and then focused his attention back to class.
The teacher lectured us about WW2 in an extremely monotone voice that droned on forever. I found myself daydreaming. It started with Matt, and I ended up melting in his emerald eyes. I was laying in a meadow, covered in flowers, and staring up at a flawlessly blue sky.
A loud bang brought me out of my perfect dream.
A man with a hood casting a dark shadow across his face stood near the doorway. In his outstretched arm, he held a smoking gun. I looked around the class for any sign of death. It seemed everyone was as wide-eyed as I was.
I nearly fainted when I saw Matt’s crumpled body on the floor.
In a dream, I pushed my way forward to Matt, so I could tell him I loved him and that everything would be okay. The gun slowly found its way in my direction and I was suddenly on the floor, pushed down by my teacher. The bang sounded.
“Everyone down!” My teacher screamed.
Cries and shuffles filled the atmosphere. I sat on the floor, my hands lightly brushing the cold floor. My eyes were paralyzed. Matt’s eyes were still open, but blood was splattered on the right side of his face. The emeralds were still visible, but the sparkle was gone. His face was relaxed, his nose pointing to the ceiling. He was gone.
The gun fired away, not even glancing back at people it so carelessly killed. Many people I came to know were hit, and fell down, maybe not to see the world again.
Voices called out to their family. Phones were shakily held to their ears as they say, “Mom, I love you, and tell dad I love him to, okay? I’m not sure if I will be back, okay?”
Cries and silence rang as the masked man stalked around the room. I sat lifelessly, not worrying about my possible end. It was spent on Matt, full of blame and questions. Why was it him? Why was he first? Why’d he have to sit by the door?
From what I saw, four lives were gone.
The man made his way to my side of the room. Even though his face was shadowed, I felt his gaze on mine. I stared into that darkness, letting my eyes say: Shoot me. There was a part of me that wanted to die. But Matt’s voice urged me to fight.
I got up from under the table. I stared at where the man’s eyes should have been and he staggered back a little. His gun rose to my heart, which he had already torn apart.
I stood up even straighter and waited for impact. I closed my eyes. I felt the classroom hold its breath when the trigger sounded.
A sharp pain hit my left shoulder, and I fell backwards. I hit the ground hard, and a shock-wave of pain shot up my spine. My eyes flung open to see someone on top of the hooded figure.
Only the hood was gone now. Doug flailed under the weight of a kid named Blake. The gun was knocked near my feet. I shifted my weight towards the weapon, but my body protested. I reached again and fought through the stabs of pain in my back. The gun was still warm. I’ve never held a gun, let alone shot one. The weight was unnatural in my hand. It shook horribly, and I pointed it at Doug’s head. I was scared, but I didn’t want him to see.
Blake had him pinned on the ground, and Doug squirmed under his weight. Doug screamed obscene things, spitting them in Blake’s face and occasionally throwing them my way.
Students were suddenly released from their positions. They helped whoever they could while my teacher sprinted out of our room. Time slowed. The gun was still on Doug’s face. I decided to peek at my shoulder, and instantly regretted it. My knees weakened at the sight of the huge crimson stain drenching my blue shirt. My world started to spin, and the pain hit me like a semi-truck. As I fell, the gun slipped from my hand and cracked on the floor.
I was laying in a meadow, covered in flowers, and stared up at a flawlessly blue sky. In my hand, I held Matt’s. I turned my head to look at him, and his eyes instantly met mine. They sparkled. He sat up, and brought me with him. His hand lightly brushed my cheek as he brought it behind my neck. His hand pulled me closer as he kissed my forehead. He stroked a strand of hair that had carelessly fell in front of my face and delicately put it behind my ear.
“I love you.”
“Love you too.”
Florissant light blinded my eyes as they fluttered open. I closed them again and prepared myself to be conscious. They reopened and found myself in a hospital bed, plugged into various machinery. My whole body ached. My heart ached.
A few days later, I was back home, stuck to my bed. Luckily, I only badly bruised my tailbone, and a hand full of stitches cleaned up my shoulder.
Three people died.
Weeks afterwords, I went to the funerals. Each one was as horrible as the last, each overflowing with tears for an innocent life lost. Matt’s was the worst, but also the best. It’s beautiful, knowing how many people care.
“I’m sorry, Ivy” Blake had his hands in his pockets as he walked next to me after the ceremony.
“It’s alright,” I barely spoke, letting the words carry in the breeze.
“It’s okay if it’s not, you know?”
“Yeah, I guess... and I guess I should thank you too...” I squirmed under the weight of the awkward feeling being created through this conversation.
“Oh, um, you’re welcome. I guess I was kinda fed up.” Blake was squirming too.
“Well, I gotta go,” not really in a rush to go anywhere, “but it’s nice talking to you.”
“Yeah, you too. Okay, I’ll see you later.” He stopped and held out his large hand, and I took it. It was warm, letting me realize how cold my hand was. He shook firmly, and then let go. I started to walk away and saw a weak wave out of the corner of my eye.
My heel got stuck in the grass with each step. I would sink, but my heel seemed to pull it’s way back each time. It took me a little longer to get to my car, but I still made it.
The cloudless sky bored into my view. It was cruel that the weather was so nice, yet I had to battle through my own personal rain storm. I felt like I was outside, in a bleak, dark world, staring in at a perfect place that I couldn’t reach.
Doug was in jail. Shortly after I became unconscious, the police flocked into the class room. They detained a furious Doug, who realized that his plan had failed. He was ready to go to other rooms, and then end his own life with a bang. He was bullied, and his father was abusive. His life kicked him, so he kicked back.
I tried not to think about anything from that day. It brought too much sadness, but a lot of the time, it is just too hard to ignore the ever present feeling of loneliness knowing that he’s gone.
I sat at a worn desk in my room, finishing the math problems of the day. The natural light was fading, and I turned on a lamp that sat at the edge of my desk. It wheezed on, and quickly flickered off.
“God-damn light” I mumbled.
I stalked out of my room to find a new lightbulb. I came back, new bulb in hand. The old one was twisted out, and the new one was placed in. The lamp came on just as brightly as expected. As I was walking to my door, the old light bulb slipped and crashed on the floor. I stared for a moment, at the shards that twinkled in the new light.
Instantly infuriated, I ran to my desk and grabbed all of my papers that were strewn across the desk I had used for homework ever since third grade. They were thrown into the air, and delicately floated to the ground like overgrown confetti. I sat down on the floor, back resting on the side of my bed, and I cried. The tears rolled endlessly, hot on my cool cheeks.
I awoke curled on my side amidst tear stained math homework. The numbers were blurry, the black ink reduced to a puddle of grey. I considered the blurs for a moment, following the random patterns created from a night of water pooled on it’s surface.
I realized I had to make it. Blake came over from time to time. He became a good friend, but I wasn’t ready for any sort of relationship. And he knew that, thankfully. He told me that he lost his mom from cancer two years ago, and he could grasp my sadness.
“In the end, you always make it,” He would tell me, “It’s definitely hard at first, but then it doesn’t hurt as much. You’ll always be okay.”
And I was.