Where We Are

February 19, 2013
Dearest Michael,

My memory is becoming steadily worse. I wake each morning to find that more remnants of my past are fading. The people that I loved, even you, become murky in description. Most of the precious, irreplaceable memories have long since left me. I can recall, though, my adoration for you. I loved you more than you could possibly conceive.

Do you remember the scar on my neck? When I visited you, your fingers would meet the ugly, red mark. I could feel your hand tremble, and see your bottom lip quiver as tears appeared in your eyes. I can't recall what color your eyes are, only that they were once beautiful.

I would dismiss the question: what happened to you? I had thought you would never forget. But you were only six years old. After waking in a hospital room, I demanded to see you. Your name became an incantation that wore on the hearts of everyone around me, but offered me sustenance. I was convinced that you would soon be there, safe and unharmed. Instead, I was told that the trauma you experienced, and my inability to take care of you had forced you from my care.

This is what I remember, with surprising clarity:

I didn't use an umbrella. The rain was like ice on my skin, each drop trailing down my body as quickly as my beating heart. I don't remember much about the moments before the incident, other than the weather and that odd, whimsical happiness- the kind that had been long erased from my emotional capacity.

You were there, and you fit perfectly in the curve of my arms. Your dazzling smile replaced the sun. Raindrops fell onto your outstretched tongue and into the palm of your hand. I kissed your forehead and set you onto your feet, watching you run on clumsy, little legs.

You waved to me, and walked into your school alone, as you had insisted on doing. After you were gone, I heard only the rain beating on the sidewalk. The loneliness seeped into me as I began the journey back to our apartment. I took eleven steps.

There were gunshots. And then, a scream. It was a girl's shrill cry. Later I would learn her name from her hysterical parents- Melissa Faun.

It came from your school.

I ran, my senses on high alert.

I hurled my body at the front doors, the metal hitting my arm painfully. Lurching forward, I sprinted through the hallways, which were flooded with fitful children, refusing to calm themselves despite the teachers' best efforts. Then I saw him, the man with the gun, at the very end of the corridor. He was huge, lumbering. The weapon was raised, aimed at another child, his attention shifting from the small body at his feet.

Rage, disbelief, and horror all manifested themselves into the pressure radiating from my forehead. I whipped around and searched for you, finding you near the door. You called out to me, your eyes like pools of water. I turned from you, and heard a loud crack. A teacher fell dead. Another soon followed, as I stood, astounded. I had to end this, but fear rooted me to that spot.

In the next moment, the anger consumed me. I wanted to see this man to writhe on the floor in agony. I wanted to see his putrid blood pool around his body. This is what moved me, and what made me sprint towards him, dodging children and corpses. This span of time was in slow-motion, as the space between us was closed. My teeth were barred, becoming fangs, and my fingertips became claws. His bloodshot eyes were like mirrors, reflecting a flash and then another. They met mine. I could see the hesitant movements of his hands, a thick finger resting on the trigger.

I hit him with such force that we both came crashing to the floor. Landing on top of him, I snatched the gun from his loose grip, then hurled it onto the tile floor.

The punch then came as a whiplash. A single blow sent me onto my back, an immense pain pounded in my head and a scream escaped me. I stood, dizzy, my back soaked with blood. He was reaching for his gun, crawling on the ground. The heel of my foot met his hand with the sound of cracking bones. I could hear his wailing along with the distant siren of a police car. Around me, no one was left standing. The living had fled, and the others were motionless.

I thought of you then, yet could see nothing of you, only death and this man who defied it.

The children. I counted five. The two adults created a total of seven. I fell onto my knees, feeling nothing but emptiness. Blood splattered the walls, poured from so many wounds, so many holes. Red was everywhere.

I did not feel the tear that carved its way down my face.

I saw little shoes, bows in unkempt hair, broken glasses, empty faces.

I was shot then, the bullet grazed my neck, and I fell to the wet floor.

He was content with his aim, for my own blood now mingled with the rest. He took off running, his footsteps faded as I did, too.

I would like you to realize that this did not make headlines for being a common circumstance, that bad people do bad things all the time. Despite what I saw, what I still see every night, I do not believe that people are bad- just that people do bad things.

Remember for me, that love is what makes this world- the world of tragedy and hate, that which is happiness. I love you, Michael. You are what I hoped you would be, a good person who does good things.

"Where there is love, there is life." - Mahatma Gandhi

With much love,

Your mother

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readerwriter13 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 24, 2013 at 2:13 pm
Wow, this is awesome (though the sad subject). Your description and build up is really good and well used. Good job!
ultimatewriter said...
Feb. 24, 2013 at 12:27 pm
great story  
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