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Final Escape

           Sitting on the edge of my full-size mattress, I blankly stare at the pistol lying on top of my nightstand. My dad was a police officer. He has never been shy about passing on his favorite hobby to his only daughter. I've had nothing but easy access to his guns for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was old enough to ride a bicycle, my dad has taken me out to shooting ranges, practicing just in case there comes a time that I need to defend myself. How ironic. The only time I actually find a use for this weapon is not for my safety, but pretty much the exact opposite.
           Suicide. The word rings in my head. My whole life I've heard stories of teenagers, kids my age, committing the fatal deed. I can still remember the tears streaming down my mother's face as she read the tragic headline, "13-Year-Old Boy Takes his Own Life After Cyberbullying Incident." She cried, "What has this world come to? Suicides aren't even surprises anymore. I can't pick up the newspaper or turn to the local channel without being informed of yet another young man or woman that made the horrifying decision to take his or her own life." Little did she know that soon enough, she will know first-hand how big a part suicide would have in her life.

           My poor mother. What would she think of me after I'm gone? Would she assume that I didn't appreciate every time she broke her back for me just so I could be pleased? Or think that each time the words "I love you" exited my mouth, that they were just a lie?

           My heart aches now for my family as I imagine my own funeral, a slim wooden casket surrounded by arrangements of vibrant yellow and orange snapdragons. They have always been my mother's favorite flower; this is an interest we happen to have in common. I envision my parents and younger brother sitting in the pew at the very front of the church, utilizing boxes upon boxes of tissues. I cry tears of my own, thinking of the agonizing pain and unbearable burden that I would place on their shoulders by going through with this lethal action.

           I would never purposely harm any single one of my family members, but they have to understand the bigger picture, right? They have to know that they played no role in causing this to happen.

           My body shudders as I am quick to remember what actually did drive me to this state of severe depression. How I now long for the days when my life wasn't so full of cruelty and hatred. Up until my sophomore year, I enjoyed life to its fullest. My grades were as perfect as they could've been, I had copious amounts of caring friends supporting me, and I even had a loving boyfriend that I would not have traded for the world.
          In September, my dream life began to spiral downward, and fast. It all started in the girls’ locker room, a seemingly innocent environment. About to go to gym class, I began changing into the required attire. Obviously having to remove the blouse I was currently wearing in order to replace it with the necessary t-shirt for class, I felt completely comfortable. Why shouldn't I? Every other girl in that locker room was changing clothes as well - that's what the room was for.
         At this time, I remember hearing the clicking noise coming from a phone camera. Again, I felt completely at ease; girls take pictures of themselves in the mirror all the time. In about an hour I realized that I should have been much more concerned about this infinitesimal sound than I had previously thought. It soon came to my attention that the camera I had heard earlier on wasn't capturing the silliness between two best friends. Rather terrifyingly, the camera was actually photographing the moment my chest had been exposed before being clothed with my gym shirt. This private picture had then been sent to each and every student attending my school.

           Words cannot even describe the amount of humiliation and embarrassment I felt in the very moment that my phone went off, the image staring me in the face. My heart sank and my stomach flipped. That was the absolute worst day of my life; however, today is ranking as a close second. I glance back at the gun still lying beside my bed, and my mind begins wandering again.

           Do I really want to do this? I mean, yeah, I would finally get a chance to escape all of the harassment, but what about my friends? What about the people in school that still genuinely care about me?

           I pause. What friends? I lost all the ones I used to have. As soon as that picture leaked, no one looked at me the same way. False rumors about how, when, and where the photo was taken circulated throughout the entire student body. My ex-friends ditched me and the relationship I had with my boyfriend ceased to exist. For months I received threatening messages and cruel stares from people I had never even talked to before. Derogatory name-calling became an expected routine.

          I take a deep breath now as I recall a particular occurrence I consider to be a quintessence of the terrible treatment I have received. In mid-November, I arrived at school, not necessarily expecting to have a fantastic day considering the negative way people had been acting toward me the last couple of months. I bore my backpack with a low self-esteem and plodded to my locker. There I found quite an unpleasant surprise; a candy red shade of lipstick now covered the front of my locker, plastered to spell out “SLUT” in large writing. The four-letter word glared me in the face. Hallway passers-by snickered as I attempted to wipe away the false label. After finding it nearly impossible to rid of the acid vandalism, I began walking to my next class, the cosmetic slur permanently stained on my locker. My mind became filled with inquisitive thoughts, “How did this come so far? I had the life a teenage girl can only dream of. How did a picture with such innocent intentions manage to flip my entire world upside down?”

          And that's exactly what happened. My world has turned upside down. Nothing can fix this from here on out, right? I mean, the countless hours I've spent brainstorming various possibilities of a way out haven't ever led me to a light at the end of the tunnel. I've been trapped in total darkness longer than anyone should ever have to be: seclusion from my disloyal friends, facing punishment for some imaginary wrong everyone seems to think I did, having to depend on only myself for each and every thing going on in my life, not having a shoulder to cry on. I turn to the pistol. This is the only final escape.

          I realize now that nearly all the memories that I hold in my head are ones I wish I could forget. I haven't been able to live a normal teenage life in what seems like a century. I haven't actually been able to enjoy anything worth living for. All of life’s blessings have been stripped away from me by the feeling of great insecurity that constantly overwhelms me, the girls’ gossip that occurs in the bathroom, and the anonymous cyberbullies that leave comments commanding, “kill urself.”

          Maybe I should. I mean, I've always been the one to want to please everybody. What better way to do that than to follow through with what the majority of people have been asking of me?

          The thought of returning to school even one more day to face the insuperable harassment convinces me of my decision. I trudge to my desk, collecting a piece of paper and a black pen. I sit down, ready to pour out my emotions and thoughts onto the sheet of paper. I begin writing the note, tears smudging the dark ink. The words become hard to read as my hand shakes of sorrow and apprehension. After expressing my bid of farewell, I plod back to my bedside. I lay the sheet of paper on my mattress, placed purposely to be found. Picking up the cold handgun, I point it to the temple of my forehead, aware, but not proud of what I'm about to do. Keeping in mind the suffering and pain I've had to endure, I finally choose to let it stop. I pull the trigger.

           Just before I'm consumed by pure blackness, I spot my previously constructed note. Soon enough someone will find me and read my written words of goodbye:

           Hey, it's me.
           For the one that has found me here, lifeless and cold, I'm sorry. If I could, I would shield you from such a horror. This isn't your fault.
           Mom and Dad, I love you. You acted as my support systems for the longest time, and I wouldn't trade either of you for the world. For sixteen years, you cared for me and gave me the unconditional love I yearned for. Take care of my brother for me. Make sure to tuck him in every night, give him all the necessary attention, and love him in the way that you loved me.
           I suppose you're curious as to how I could have even considered causing my own death. Just know that there is absolutely nothing you could have done to prevent this from happening. My burden was too heavy and the persecution too prominent. Once the bullying started, I did everything in my power to terminate it. However, I learned the hard way that when it comes to this sort of thing, being outnumbered ultimately causes you to surrender.
           Before September, I loved my life more than you can imagine. I felt blessed for everything in it, and I owe that to the both of you. However, as I began receiving more and more harassment, that gratitude faded into distress and I grew a heavy heart. After thoroughly considering the fatal decision I have made today, I found no other way to escape the despair. I solemnly apologize from the bottom of my heart for any misery caused by my actions. Remember that I love you, and nothing could or would ever change that.
           And to those who intentionally used their words to hurt me, who spent their time only trying to bring me down, I guess you've won. Congratulations. Are you happy now?

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