Above the Air

March 6, 2009
By
More by this author
Mathew.
Nothing filled the blank space of my mind as I stood outside my front gate; the frigid ice rain pelting my arms and face, soaking through my thin hooded sweatshirt, the chill spreading through to my skin, reaching down and grasping my bones. It was pitch black out, and the only light came from behind me, in the house, and from the few twinkling stars that dotted the sky. The pavement underneath my feet hummed with silence, as I was the only one standing on its face; there were a few chirps of a cricket, the occasional faraway bark of a dog, and my ragged breath that inhaled the night chill. Nothing else made a movement, nothing else made a sound. The night was dead.







Bringing the smoking cig that I held between my fingertips up to my mouth, I took a long hard drag off the tip, then held my breath. One. The revolting taste of the cigarette tip lingered on my lips, flavoring what I had just inhaled. Two. The smoke expanded inside my mouth, sinking down into my throat, slipping into my lungs, spreading like the plague. Three. The bittersweet smoke had made its way throughout my body, nauseating and calming me at the exact same time. Closing my eyes, I slowly blew out the sweet smoke, the devil itself, setting it free to leave my body; and I was left with no breath of my own.



This is my life, I thought to myself suddenly as the frigid ice rain continued to pelt my face, as I craned my neck all the way back, revealing my entire face to the blackened sky. This is what I?ve made of my life. The force of the rain on my face combined with the burning pressure in my chest and the hatred I felt for myself made my legs begin to shake, and I crouched down, my knees up to my chest, my hands clutching my head fiercely.












You want to know what you are, the devil inside of my head asked menacingly. You?re nothing. A nobody. And that?s just how you?re going to stay. You?ll remain the boy nobody knew, and nobody cared to know. And you?ll never be anything to anybody. Ever. The words crackled and echoed in my brain, branding themselves inside of my head forever. My nails dug into my hair, clutching at it, and my body continued to curl in a ball, my knees so ground into my stomach that it made me want to throw up. The words just echoed in my brain, over and over, sketching pretty pictures. Bile rose in my throat quick and hard, causing me to tip forward and spew blood and dead
air onto the sidewalk, which left my body limp. After it drained from my tongue, I just laid on the ground, the side of my face pressed hard into the cold hard concrete, finally giving up, letting the rain drip down everywhere around me. I was numb anyway.
***

Savannah.
Monday morning.
I step out into the morning chill, clutching my northface jacket to my chest. The sun is barely up, and I can only just see it appearing over the horizon, beginning to peek out its head. As I stand at the bus stop, smoke from cigarettes presently being inhaled into the lungs of the group of kids smoking them curls in my nose, all I can think about is where to sit, where to sit, where to sit. The beginning of freshman year has come, and as the gaudy yellow of the school bus rolls closer to where my feet are planted into the ground, my heart is pounding loudly in my chest, my nerves almost at their wits end. Don?t sit in the back of the bus, my mind warned itself, that?s where the druggies will be seated. And don?t sit at the absolute front-nobody socially acceptable sits there. I breathe deeply, infusing my lungs with air and listening as my mind?s mouth spoke again, chanting, don?t mess this up, don?t mess this up, don?t mess this up. And I wouldn?t, I promised myself. I would not. The bus stops directly in front of the group of smokers, and as they carelessly toss their cigarettes to the ground, my heart continues to beat the inside of my chest, and almost instantly, my body takes off on its own. My legs begin to stride towards the entrance of the bus, my head held tall and strong. But when I was finally on the bus, panic struck again, twice as hard as before. Anxiety was taking over my body, and I couldn?t control it. Suddenly my face was scorching, and my breath was coming out whispery. Somebody behind me was obnoxiously telling me to move my a**, and then?that?s when I saw him. And my eyes flooded with gratified tears.
Mathew.
His face was staring at me over the back of the seat in front of him; his dirty blonde hair was shading his deep green eyes; his dark sweatshirt he wore like a blanket. When he saw me looking at him, he smiled a great big smile, and slide over so that he was near the window and I was able to sit. When I was finally settled I turned to him, and returned his smile.
?Mathew,? was all I said, and he enveloped me in a hug. How long had I known Mathew, I wondered, as his arms were fastened around my body, his face in my hair. For forever, my mind?s mouth answered, and I smiled again. He?d always been my friend, ever since that first day we had met, in the computer lab of the library so many years ago. I remember, because I had been obnoxious back then, and when I walked into the lab, he was the only one there, clicking away religiously on the mouse. I had tried sitting by myself, but the echo of the empty room and my tapping on the keys had been eerie, and made me all too aware that I was one of the only two people in the room. So I had left my computer and before I knew it, I had plopped myself down next to him, stuck my hand out in his face and introduced myself. He had been stunned, but then as always, he grinned and shook it, introducing himself to me as Mathew. From that long summer day on, we always met there, just the two of us. We didn?t talk much, but there was a mutual understanding of each other. We looked over each others shoulders and sometimes hit upon the topic of mutual friends on rare occasion, but overall, we stayed engrossed in our computer screens. Except this summer everything had changed. I didn?t go to the library at all; I stayed at the beach, engrossed in tanning, or vacationed with my friends? families. Not once did I step into the computer lab of the library, so not once over the summer had I seen Mathew. Just then Mathew questioned me on where I?d been all summer, and why he hadn?t seen me. ?Missed me?? I asked jokingly, giggling at myself. But when I took one look at his face, I could tell that he had. Very much. I reached out, grazing his cheek with my fingertip. At the first stroke of his face, zings shocked my entire body. I shook my head. Pulling my hand back instantly, my eyes were still glued to his, and I could tell that he had felt it too. What was going on? It?s Mathew. Just Mathew. I threw him another quick smile and shifted towards the front of the bus, and for the rest of the ride we sat in comfortable silence.
For the rest of the week he and I sat together. Nothing else had passed between us since Monday, and we both returned to being ourselves. Sometimes we chatted about school and teachers, the normal for us. But other times we just sat in our comfortable silence, both of us so enveloped in our own thoughts that we barely noticed each other. But soon enough it became a ritual, and every morning and every afternoon riding to and from school, the only thing we shared was the air around us, and our thoughts we kept to ourselves. Another week went by, and soon enough the stillness between us began to worry me. What was this? It had never been like this. Silent, yes. Still, no. Never had I known us to be so strange around each other, so foreign to each others? language. It bothered me so much I just had to say something. It was a Friday afternoon when I slid into our seat and turned to him, immediately greeting him with a warm smile. He looked confused, but quickly hid it as he acknowledged me.

?I couldn?t be happier that it?s Friday,? I mumbled more to myself, but knowing that he would answer. He did. Laughing.
?You have no idea,? he answered, and went into a long ramble about his weekend plans. I smiled to myself as I listened to him speak of his mom, the love he had for her spilling over into his eyes. But then. He said it. And my heart ceased to beat for a dreaded moment. I stopped him abruptly.
?You?re moving?? I half whispered, my heart beginning again to thump deep in my chest, dreading the answer that lay ahead. He only nodded, his eyes watching my face as I took in the news.
And then I laughed. Straight out, chortling as I realized that it was a joke.
?You joker!? I said in between giggles. ?Not -even-funny-? I was choking on my air.

Mathew grabbed my upper arm firmly and then took my face in his hands, gazing deep into my eyes. ?Savannah,? he whispered, ?I?m really moving.?
I stopped laughing.
Because the bus was at my stop.
And it was time for me to get off.













***
Mathew.
The seat instantly turns to ice when she leaves. I twist to the window and watch her leave, mentally signaling for her to turn around, to look at me, to let me know that the news didn?t hurt her. I want to make sure she?s ok. But she just keeps on walking down the street, as if nothing even happened. You don?t matter, remember? My mind taunted me. Did you honestly think that she would care that you were leaving? I put my head in my hands, trying to shut out the pain. You?re nothing to her. Nothing. My mind continues to hate me, but I was no longer listening. In my mind?s eye I could see the picture of her face when she thought that I was joking, and then the sight afterwards, when she realized that I wasn?t. Her smile instantly disappeared, and the glowing light in her eyes had died. I had caused her pain-my leaving had caused her to hurt. But I wondered ? was she really upset that I was leaving? Or was it just the surprise that I was going to be gone that struck her? I looked back out the window just in time to watch her head as it got smaller and smaller out of sight.





***
The first thing I saw were her eyes.
Warm hazel mixed with flecks of gold and emerald; they smiled at me, welcomed me, beckoned me, and I lingered in the sensation. Her other features were hazy, so I could only make out simple lines and curves on her face. And then I saw her smile. Stretching out my finger, I grazed it across her mouth, pressing lightly along the velvet of her lips. Against my touch they shivered; feelings began to move me, and before I knew exactly what I was doing, I had reached out and cupped her fragile face in my hands, touching my lips lightly to hers. And I floated. Softly, sweetly. There was nothing else like it. And when she moaned my name against my lips, the sound was astonishing, indescribable.
All of a sudden she pulled her face from mine, and I opened my eyes, blinking against what I saw in front of me, from the awe that shook me when I realized that the girl I was kissing was Savannah.
I awoke abruptly, breathing hard and feeling feverish. Visions of Savannah continued to pop into my head for a few moments after I broke the dream, and I shook my head, trying to be rid of them. I?d thought that I had gotten over her, but in fact, I hadn?t. Not seeing her all summer hadn?t worked and the fact that I was dating Taylor didn?t help much either. What I had realized when Savannah had taken her first step onto the bus was that she was no longer the reckless young girl that I had met all so suddenly in the computer lab of the library; she had in fact, grown to be more amazing then she was before. And continued to be so so beautiful. What would happen if we did get together, I wondered to myself as I shifted to my side, watching my fish in their tank as they slept soundly. It wasn?t the first time that I?d dreamt about Savannah, I?ve loved her forever. It?s the fact that in this dream we weren?t just holding hands and laughing. There was passion and want, and that scared me. I?ve never dreamt of her this way, ever, and I?m not sure what to make of it. You can?t be with her; you won?t be with her, ever. The truth was screaming at me in my head, pounding on the walls of my brain, over and over, making sure I was listening. Clenching my jaw tightly, I held back the pain that reality held. Savannah was too good for me, and I would never be able to have her, so there was no use in dreaming about her. I rolled onto my back and tried to put the dream from my mind, but every time I closed my eyes it would play over and over again in my head; the way her skin felt beneath my touch, and how she moaned against my mouth, the sound playing like music inside my ears.
A long time later I was finally able to drift to sleep, the dream still in my mind, as clear as crystal. And the only thought that rested in there was that I wanted her, badly.
***
The next evening I called her.

?Mathew,? she whispered through the phone, and the warmth from the way she said my name covered me like a blanket. ?I love that you?re calling me.?

I smiled to myself. ?What are you up to??

?Nothing really, just watching a movie. What are you doing??
I sighed, stretching out on my bed. ?Talking to you.?
She laughed. ?Don?t you have anything else to do??

?Not really.?

She giggled again, the sound ringing in my ears. She began to chatter on about things that were happening in school, but I was hardly listening. I was just lying there, focusing on the melody of her voice and the intake of her sweet breath. Images of my dream last night popped into my brain suddenly, and this time, I didn?t force them away. Instead I let the dream take me where it wanted.

?Mathew?? Her voice echoed in my brain, breaking me away.
I cleared my throat. ?Don?t worry Savannah, I?m here.?
?Did you hear what I said??
?No,? I said guiltily.
?I was asking you how Taylor is.?
Taylor. My girlfriend. Savannah. Not my girlfriend.

?Oh she?s, uh?she?s good.?

?Are you two still dating??

?Yeah, we are. But I haven?t seen her in a while.?
?You don?t seem too excited saying that.?

I paused. ?That?s?because I?m not.?

?What are you talking about??

?I?m really not into her as much as I used to be.?

?Oh Mathew, what happened??

?I don?t know.?

?Come on, you must know,? she said me. ?Are you interested into someone else??

I paused again. ?I guess you could say that.?

?So who?!? I could hear the excitement in her voice at a new piece of news, and I laughed, reveling in it.
?Please tell me!?

?It?s?nothing, really.?

?I know it?s not just nothing. Come on, tell me, who is this lucky lady??

?It?s not going to happen, so I?m not even going to tell you.? I said shortly.

?If I know you the way I think I do,? she said with a bit of mirth in her voice, ?than it is going to happen.?

?What is that supposed to mean??

?It means you get what you go after.? She giggled.
I didn?t respond.

?Come on, Mathew,? she begged. ?Tell me. I won?t judge you, I promise. Please??

I was quiet for a few seconds. ?Alright,? I said quietly. ?I will tell you.?

?Yes!? she celebrated.

?But,? I started.

?Oh sh**.?

Chuckling, I gave her the condition. ?You must guess first.?

?Alright, then I will. Is it?Stephanie?? She guessed.

?Nope.?

?Abby.?

?No.?

?Katy??

?No way.?

?Cindy??

?Nah.?

?Will you just tell me?? she said, exasperated.

?I?ll give you a hint.? I said, enticing her. ?Her name starts with an S.?

?Sarah?! Oh I knew it was her.?

?Savannah, no.?

?Umm...Sabrina??


?You can answer that one.?

?Yeah she?s a little?.ok, anyway. Sheila??

?She?s hot, but no.? I was having fun.

?I don?t know any other girls whose names start with S!? she whined.

?I do.?

?That doesn?t help. Will you please just tell me??

?Ok. But you have to promise me something.? I said quietly, gripping the phone until my hand ached. My voice was shaking, and my forehead was beginning to sweat.

?Sure.? She said.

?Promise me that you won?t freak out,? I whispered. ?And that you will share it with nobody.?

She paused. ?Of course, Mathew. I promise.?

Taking a deep breath, I finally voiced the truth. ?It?s you.?

Savannah
Mathew wanted me.
When he had told me, I was so shocked; nothing came out of my mouth. My body had frozen in its place, and the only thing I seemed capable of doing was hanging up. So I did. And now I regret it. I should have told him how I felt, and how when he said my name, said that I was the girl he craves, that the rhythm of my heart was as swift as the speed of light, and that I couldn?t keep myself from smiling.
But now that I?ve hung up on him, he?ll never know exactly how I feel. My heart sinks lower in my chest and I can?t control myself as tears spring up in my eyes.
I wish I could just go back and fix everything. I wish I wish I wish.
But a few moments later, the ring of the phone pierces the dreadful silence. It was him.

?Look, I know that it?s weird and awkward now that you know and I?m so sorry for f***ing things up, but what I told you is the complete and total truth. I?ve been in love with you for forever, and now it just seems as though I can?t even control it anymore. I want you Savannah. I want to be with you.? He pauses, and I seize the opportunity that will never come again.

?I want you, too,? I say quietly. I hear my voice echoing in the silence between us, and for a second I thought he had changed his mind and my heart thumped fearfully in my chest. But then he whispers my name, over and over again, and I can tell from the sound of his voice that his very hope has just come true. ?I want you so much,? I whisper back to him, and for the first time since I?ve known him, he laughs, a true, full laugh.

?When when when?!? he practically shouts, so overjoyed. ?When can I be with you??

I laugh too, wondering to myself when the last time I have been so happy in my entire life. When and where can we be together without people realizing what?s going on? The worst thing that could happen for us would be other people finding out that we?re together, and sabotaging our relationship before we even have a chance. Especially if my family knew. Because then, everything would be ruined. ?Meet me here, at my house, tomorrow night after dark.? I say slowly, processing my thoughts. ?My parents won?t be home, and nobody will be around. We can be alone.? I could tell that he liked the idea, because he was smiling on the other end.

?Eight o?clock?? he asked.

I nodded, mostly for myself. ?Eight o?clock exactly.?

?I can?t wait to be with you, finally, after all this time,? He said, sounding dazed from the reality of what was about to happen.
?Don?t be late,? I whisper.

?I will never make you wait, Savannah. Never.?
I fall asleep with my lamp on, the phone cradled against my heart.

Mathew.
My spirits felt higher than the sky. Tonight, after dark, I was finally going to be with Savannah as I?ve always wanted to be. Tonight, after dark, she and I will be joined together as one, and we will never be broken apart. Tonight, after dark, Savannah will be mine.
Part of me felt as though I was dreamed it all. Last night, the phone calls, the quiet pleading tone that I?d heard in Savannah?s voice after I had solely spilled my heart out to her. But she wanted me too. I grin, a great big smile as I open my front door, letting the dogs out to piss. It doesn?t matter that my life sucked. It didn?t matter that I hated my father, and the way he treats me. It doesn?t matter, doesn?t matter, doesn?t matter. Because all of that would just be pushed away. Because tonight was my night to finally be loved.
Ha ha, I laughed at my evil mind. Savannah does want me, I taunted it. What now?!
You just wait, it spoke back, deep and thunderous in my head. You will see. The truth will come in time.
I pushed the thought out of my mind as I walked around my house, whistling, rather badly, while I cleaned the mess. It was my job to clean, well, everything. It was obvious my father had been drinking last night with his buddies, and there?s no doubt, a woman in his bed now, both of them sleeping off their hangovers and awful, drunken sex. Their beer bottles littered the entire living room area, leaving dark mahogany stains on the dirty carpet that lined the floor. The TV had been left on, and the gray fuzz was still playing before I shut it off. Grabbing a big black garbage bag amidst the mess in the kitchen, I quickly condensed all twenty-nine bottles and began wiping down the coffee table, sweeping the floors, and washing the windows. Although I was in a great mood, I couldn?t keep myself from becoming livid. A few times I smashed around the bottles a bit too loudly, almost awakening my father.
I can remember a time when he wasn?t like this. He wasn?t always a drunken fool, completely smashed every hour that he wasn?t working at that damn factory job. At one point in time in his life, my father was actually a father. Like Christmas. Just four years ago. I remember. He had borrowed a Santa costume from a friend at work, and had surprised me and mom that Christmas morning when he came through the door, snow dusting his shoulders and flying out from behind him as he burst through the door.
?Ho ho ho, merry Christmas!? He had exclaimed.
?Daddy, daddy, is that you?? I remember that I was eleven. I had run up to him clad in my big boy onesie, holding Mr. Reindeer in my hands, which had been sticky from the syrup on my hot blueberry pancakes.

?Well good morning, Matty! What have you wished for for Christmas?? He had asked me, picking me up with those clean white gloves, placing me on top of his shoulders.

?A fire truck, a fire truck!? little Matty exclaimed.

?Oh, a fire truck! Well, let?s see what I got you for Christmas this year!? He bounced me over to the glittering Christmas tree and set me down in front of all of the dazzling presents underneath it. He was picking through it with his big hands, handling every single one of them, trying to find the one he wanted me to open first.

?Aha!? he had bellowed, ?I have found it!?

He placed the large wrapped box in front of me and then went to stand with my mother, who had been snapping pictures of us happily. ?Go on Matty,? they encouraged. ?Go on and open your presents!?
After tearing all of the wrapping paper off, I gasped at the present that lay inside. ?A fire truck mommy, look, Santa got me a fire truck!?
Santa grinned, and then said, ?You?ve been such a good little boy this year Matty, and I just wanted to get you something special!? I remember getting up on my chubby legs and running over to him, throwing my hands around his huge belly, yelling, ?I love you, Santa! I wish you could stay forever and ever and be my daddy!?
Reaching down, Santa grasped my body and pulled me up, holding me on his belly. ?I wish I could Matty, but other kids need me too. And besides, he said with an intense look in his eyes, ?Your daddy wouldn?t want to go away. He wouldn?t want to leave you, because he loves his little Matty. And he always will.?
I could still feel the cotton of his soft white beard underneath my fingers as I reached through it and pulled it off his face. I had been shocked. ?It is you daddy, it is you!?
I remember him chuckling, and then rubbing his cheek against mine. ?Oh, you caught me! You?re such a smart cookie.? He placed me back on the floor with my new fire truck.
?Daddy, do you love me like Santa said you did?? I remember asking, my eyes upturned to his, great hope shimmering in my eyes.

Leaning down, he kissed my head, whispering, ?Forever and ever, Matty. Forever and ever.?





***
?What the f*** do you think you?re doing!? My father?s deafening voice crashed through me.

I turned and peered at the mess that was him. He was shirtless and was wearing no pants, causing his beer belly to stick way out over the edge of his loose boxers. His chin was gray with stubble; eyes were bloodshot and angry.

?WHAT THE F*** DO YOU THINK YOU?RE DOING!? He repeated, practically piercing my eardrums.

?I-I?m n-n-not doing an-anything,? I whispered, putting my face down.
Whap! A sharp sting struck the side of my face and I yearned to reach up and care for it, but I knew better than to show weakness. It only humors him.

?Look at me when I speak to you!? He bellowed up in my face, drunken breath hitting my nostrils, and I curled them. Slowly and fearfully I raised my head, keeping my eyes on his wrinkled forehead. Whap. Smack. Pop. He hit me again and again, knocking me over. ?What the f*** are you doing here?! Did I tell you that you could be here! Did I f***ing say for you to come home and to mess up my f***ing house, let out my f***ing dogs?! Did I, did I?!? With each exclamation of fury he struck me even harder, knocking off my glasses, bruising my eyes, making my bottom lip bleed.

?I?m s-s-s-s-s-sorry, SORRY!? I screamed as he continued to attack me, his strong fists pounding me every second now.

?You bet you?re f***ing sorry! You worthless piece of s***, what the f*** is wrong with you! What, do you think I need you to clean up after me? Do you? Do you think I?m not able to do it myself?! What do you think I am, a piece of crap?!? He cackled menacingly. ?You piece of s***, nobody needs you! I don?t care about you, I hate you! You ruined my life! You killed my wife, why are you here?! You?re so stupid, you won?t add up to anything! You won?t even be able to get the slimy job I?ve got! You?re a nobody!? And with those beautiful departing words, he left me, lying on the carpet, blood dripping from my lips, my body completely battered and bruised.

I don?t know how long I had lain there, bleeding, dying, but that voice in my head began to speak once again. Worthless. Baggage. No good. S***. The exact words that describe you.

Can?t you ever leave me be? I begged inwardly to my brain. For one second?

It cackled. Have you not learned your lesson? Even your father thinks what I know. You?re nothing. A nobody. And Savannah? She?s using you. She never wanted to be with you.
Savannah. If I could be in more pain, I would be. Savannah, using me? Was she really? A blister formed on my heart, big and ugly. Finally I fell to the wind.

It laughed again, harder and longer this time, and for once and for all, I ceded to it.





***
It took me a long time to finally reach the phone. Dialing the number slowly with my cramped fingers, I breathed slowly, in and out, so my ribs were in as little pain as possible. One ring. Two. A pick up. A voice.

?Mathew?? she breathed, her voice barely above a hushed whisper. Her voice sounded almost happy that it was me, and I found it hard to quench even the thought of relief. I had to do it, because I wasn?t going to last. At all. ?Mathew?? she voiced again, her tone puzzled.

I breathed in. Breathed out. And then, I spoke. ?Savannah,? was all I could possibly say through my crackled lips, before the pain shot into my ribs, much more agonizing than before.

?It is you,? she was smiling, and I wished to God I could be smiling too. ?For a minute I thought you were someone else.?

?Who?? I wondered aloud in a cynical tone. ?Who could you possibly be waiting for a phone call from??

?Mathew, what are you talking about, I wasn?t waiting for anyone,? she sounded almost worried, and I snorted sadly.

?You are such a lying whore,? I announced, clenching my fist as hard as I could, my ribs throbbing.

?Excuse me?! Mathew, what is wrong, you aren?t like this at all, what?s going on?? she was scared. Just like me.

?You lied. To me. And now I?m just wondering, why.? I paused, and then continued. ?No, don?t explain, I know why. Because I already know.?
It had been true. She was using me. For what, I didn?t want to know. I called her a liar, and a whore, again and again, my voice shooting daggers through the phone, hurting the only one I?ve ever loved, letting her feel the pain that I was feeling. Letting her be useless, too.

?Mathew, I don?t know what I?ve done, please help me to understand,? She was now sobbing, and I could close my eyes and practically see her big salty teardrops cascade down her pale cheeks, and for a moment I cursed myself; but it popped up again, stronger than before. Go, was all it said to me. Go.
?Let me understand, please, I don?t understand what?s happening. Don?t treat me like this, don?t keep me in the shadows, tell me, tell me what?s wrong.? The melody of her weeping carried through right to the gate of my heart, but I was so strong, I kept it out. I kept it all out.
But no matter how awful she had been to me, she deserved an explanation for the pain, even when I had gotten none for my own. This was the last thing she would have from me, ever, my last gift to her, after my love. I had to do it; right now, I just had to say it. This.

?My entire life has been a struggle,? I began, tears beginning to gather in my eyes. ?Ever single day I have fought to be me, to be who I have always wanted to be. I have loved and I have laughed, I have danced and I have sung, I have slipped, and I have fallen. But it is for the last time.? I gripped the phone harder and harder, the strength in my arm causing my bones to ache, my skin sweating.

?What are you saying, Mathew?? she whispered, panicked, and more tears fell as I thought about all the pain I was causing her.

?I?m not worth anything, Savannah. I?m a nobody, a nothing. I have been for my entire life, and I will just grow up and be the exact same person. I can?t be anything, and I?m destined to not be anything. Ever.?

She interrupted, panic stricken still. ?That?s not true, and you know it! You?re an amazing person, Mathew, truly, and you need to believe in yourself! Nobody can tell you what you are but you! You may think you?re worthless, but you?re not worthless to me.?

?Oh Savannah,? I mumbled, my hand slipping around on the telephone; my finger played with the cord. ?you just don?t understand. My life would be pointless, because I am not worth anything, despite what you might believe. It?s like you?re putting on a play, and I am your main character. The spotlight is on, but I am not there. I am about as much use to the world as dust is to a corner, or a bent paperclip. So for me, loss is not an issue. Because for me, life is just not worth living.?
?Mathew, please,? she began to cry again, louder, wailing. ?I don?t understand, help me.?

?Us being together would be a mistake,? I said, licking my cracked lips, tasting the acrid blood that pooled there. ?Because now I?m just pushing and pulling you down to me, and now I must stop myself, because as God is my witness, I will not let you fall.?
?No Mathew,? Savannah whimpered. ?No no no, I don?t understand, I don?t understand.? She repeated that over and over again, as though I couldn?t hear her.
?Baby, you will soon, I promise you. And you will be the only one, because you?re one of the only people I have ever loved. But I need to go.?
She was protesting, struggling, fighting, crying to me, and I longed to go to her, hold her, suffer with her. But my own anguish held me back, and with one solid breath, I let her go.
I trembled, trembled, trembled. For a long while after.

Let go, My head urged to me. You are enduring too much, I cannot take it. Just be done with yourself, once and for all. My tears dribbled down everywhere, everywhere, creating a sink, a pool, a bathtub. I sloshed and swam in my thoughts.











?And I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad,? Gary Jules sings, ?The dreams in which I?m dying are the best I?ve ever had. I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take. When people run in circles it?s a very, very mad world. Mad world.? The water had filled all around me, and for once in my life, I opened my eyes underwater, feeling the sharp sting of the salt meet me eye to eye, finally letting my breath go. Just go.
Savannah.
It was a Thursday.
I dressed that morning in a daze; still in pain from the words Mathew had said me only last night. His words utterly terrified and disturbed me, and I couldn?t shake them from my brain. At the bus stop I couldn?t help but notice the graying clouds that were spreading across the sky, shadowing Fayetteville. Everyone around me at the bus stop was speaking, but I remained silent, debating whether or not I should still sit with him on the bus. But as it pulled into view, I took a deep breath of the chill air and stepped in.

Oh. Mathew?s seat was empty and I felt half disappointment, half relief. I picked to sit in our seat, the fourth one on the left, which was cold to the touch. I was silent all the way to school and quiet walking in. Inside, I watched and waited for Mathew to come. The minutes before homeroom were to be carefree and relaxing, but I was on edge. Where was Mathew? He was never late and he never missed school. My brain tried to reassure me. He might have an appointment-a doctor?s appointment, He mentioned he was feeling pretty low. Or maybe his alarm didn?t go off on time, and his Dad is rushing him to school. Or-
Four loud rings echoed through the hallways, signaling the start of the day. I walked slowly to my homeroom and sat in my seat, waiting for the announcements to come on. Usually when they start, Mrs. Gilbert, my homeroom teacher, would allow us to speak quietly, but today she hushed us harshly, and told us something important was about to happen, and NO TALKING.





The first thing I realized was that instead of Ms Lemly, our school secretary?s voice coming over the loudspeaker, it was Mr. Robinson, our school principal. And the second thing I realized was that when his voice came on, Mrs. Gilbert didn?t have to hush anyone.
A pin dropped.

?Students and faculty members of FM high school?I?m reluctant to say that I have a piece of terribly tragic and disturbing news to pass along to everyone this morning.?
He paused to take a slow shaking breath, and then continued. My body froze and my heart stopped beating.
?At about 10:30 last night, a sophomore student by the name of Mathew Dean drowned himself in his bathtub. While a student here at FM, Mathew was a very quiet and reserved boy--he didn?t do much, he didn?t say much, but he was known to be a very nice boy, and he took his own life. This is-it?s?there?s nothing reassuring that I can say to make this seem any better. A young boy suicided because he thought he had no other option. This wasn?t-he didn?t-nobody-? his voice was breaking, and his breath was shaking uncontrollably. But I was no longer listening. His words were just reverberating in my head.
Mathew Dean-drowned himself?bathtub-suicide.
Suicide.
Mr. Robinson was still speaking over the loudspeaker, but there was no way I was able to hear him over my own thoughts. I felt my eyes widen, my legs shaking, my hands clutching the edge of my desk. Then my entire body was shuddering; out of my third ear I heard a strangled shriek that pierced the silence-and I realized that it was mine. At the same time I felt this indescribable pain building up inside me. It felt so horrible-like death. It was like a monster trying to break free from my body. This ungodly creature was clawing at my insides, thrashing and tearing my body apart. And it wouldn?t stop. It just kept building and building, this terrible monster, and finally, I let it go.
I stood and I ran.
It?s raining outside, but I barely take notice. I can?t stop my feet from running, nor do I want to. I am able to see nothing but blurs of light as I am rushing past them, my feet hitting the pavement at a mile a minute. Pavement, grass, pavement, grass, pavement. I sprint over anything and everything. But the rush in my ears and the pain in my chest distract me from nothing, and my legs help me only to outrun the human race. The memories of last night and the words he spoke haunt my thoughts and remain in my mind, creating a hollow echo at the center.
I?m not worth anything-I can?t be anything. I won?t be anything.
Life is not worth living.
Life is not worth living.
Life is not worth living.
The words pound into my heart, engraving themselves over and over like a pretty picture. But then a realization hits me like a brick and my blood races. You could have saved him, something inside me said. You could have helped him, saved his life. But now it?s too late, he?s already dead. And you, girl-you helped him die. You killed, you killed, you killed.
I ran harder, faster.
No no no no no. No. I didn?t help kill him. There?s no way-he killed himself?I couldn?t?I didn?t-I would never kill him-I could never hurt him?I?I loved him. No, no-oh God did I?
Oh my God. I did, I did.
I killed the boy that I loved.
The air around me tightened, clogging my throat. I gasped for breath, but nothing came to my rescue. My legs were still moving, but my body was not going to last. I was struggling, struggling for release. And in a few moments, release came. The rain that pounded down on my head caused it to numb, and all of a sudden my eyes glazed over. It?s as though my own spirit had floated away from the body it has occupied for so long and is suspended above the air, watching the body decay. And my spirit watches as said body suddenly collapses, as if in slow motion, the knees buckling just as the body goes to take another running step. Then the calves and shins follow. And finally, the upper body falls, and the head meets the pavement. Now, as I?ve just witnessed the collapse, I realize that everything seems as if I was never even a person. It?s as though something was cast upon me, and I am only a thin wisp of air-I don?t think of anything, I don?t see anybody, and for those glorious moments, I can feel absolutely nothing. And that?s exactly how I want it to be.
Until my eyes open to bright red flashing lights. The end has come.





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