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Bullet Through my Heart
Je regarde, tu regardes, il regarde, nous regard… “Sorry!” I muttered to the person I’d just bumped into, and I tried to continue along, my eyes on the ground. He didn’t move. Annoyed, I looked up.
The boy was looking down at me, his mouth curved into a smirk, his green eyes slightly squinted as he took me in. He looked about my age: eighteen, not older. With one hand he pushed away the dark, messy hair that fell onto his tanned forehead. He wore a fitted white T-shirt, and right in the middle of his shirt was a golf-ball size bright orange stain. I silently cursed my pumpkin-spice latte. He was still watching me, waiting, an amused look growing on his face, his mossy eyes sparkling.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry, I…wasn’t watching…here.” I said out of breath. I fished out a crumpled-up napkin from my front jeans pocket and shakingly tried to dab at the stain, hoping it to go away, but it only spread, the stain forming into an apple-sized whale. Crap. “I’m really so sorry” I said with an apologetic smile, blood rushing to my cheeks. Stupid. Stupid.
He untied a black-and-white striped hoodie from around his waist and pulled it over his head in one swift movement. A faint smell of cologne and peppermint rushed to my nose. “Good thing I’m equipped.” he said, sticking his hands into the pockets of his hoodie. He flashed a smile showing a row of perfectly white teeth that looked like pearls against his olive-colored skin.
Why isn’t he leaving? I laughed nervously. “I’m Daniele.” He said, tipping his head to the side in a voice sounded slightly foreign. Dani-ee-l-ee. “Lena.” I said. “Lee-n-aa” he said slowly, drawing out the vowels. My face got hot. “That doesn’t sound American.” “It’s German, actually.” God, I’m embarrassing. “Interesting.” he said, and he seemed genuinely interested. He smiled again, his gaze not leaving my face. I blushed. I looked down and studied the cap of my latte. Say something.
“Look, I really have to go, I have a study I have to test for, I mean a test…I have to study for…oh, and sorry again about…your shirt.” I hung my purse further up onto my shoulder. He pursed his lips as if he were disappointed, and then smiled again. “Maybe we’ll see each other around.” His eyes grazed up and down my body. My flannel shirt stuck to my back with sweat. I flipped my long hair to the side. “Yeah.” I breathed, trying to sound as casual as possible. “I just moved here two weeks ago, and I’d be really happy to have at least one person I know.” His words were smooth and melodic. “Yes…I mean, of course.” I said with a smile. He looked me right in the eyes, his mossy green gaze intense. “See-ya…Lee-n-aa.”
I looked away quickly. “Bye.” I mumbled, only to find him already going the other way. Mystified, I watched him leave: a long, lean figure walking through the crowds of people, his hands stuffed into his pockets, his head bowed slightly towards the ground. I made my way to the mall exit, my mind no longer on the French test I had tomorrow morning. Daniele. The image of his face stuck in my mind like a magnet. The flashing mossy green eyes, the slanted nose, the perfectly smooth, tanned skin, the full mouth in a smirk, the bright ivory smile. He was so flawless, so perfect…and then it happened.
I was awoken by the steady “beep…beep…beep” of the monitor. Is this what dying is really like? Who knew it would be this simple, effortless? I feel like I’m drunk, helpless, and I’m being controlled: Breathe. Blink. Breathe. Blink. When I don’t respond, it gets mad. Breathe. Blink. Breathe. Blink.
As if in a dream, I could hear my mother’s voice after the time I fell in the frozen lake at the park when I was seven. I was unconscious, lying on the couch wrapped in three blankets. I felt her kneeling next to the couch and stroking my wet hair, streaked with frost. She looked at my tiny, vulnerable face, tinged blue because of the cold. My eyelids were closed, purple and swollen. Her blue eyes were desperate, urgent. Tears trickled down her cheeks. I wanted to wipe them away; I wanted to say :“I’m all right, mama. I hear you. I’m here.”
Breathe. Blink. Breathe. Blink. It’s like standing on a bridge. Do I jump, or not? What would happen to me if I jumped? What would happen if I stopped blinking? One small twitch of the eye...One small step over the bridge…one second of holding my breath…one jump into the icy water…just one…small…Breathe. Blink. Breathe. Blink.
“Daniele? Daniele, is that you?” I could spot his tall, dark figure standing in a corner. He was wearing a leather jacket with the black-and-white hoodie underneath. The hood was over his head, covering his face and hair. He looked like a shadow through the thick fog. “Daniele? It’s me, Lena.” He didn’t turn. Can he hear me? His back slumped against the brick wall. His breath was hard and rigid. “Daniele? Daniele, are you OK?” I asked in a soft voice. I came closer, and I saw that he was sobbing quietly. “Daniele?” I hesitantly reached my hand towards his shoulder and stroked him lightly. He flinched. “Go away, Lena” he hissed, his words like poison. I held my breath. “Daniele, I just…” “I said, go away!” he said angrily, turning his face towards me, breathing deep, ragged breaths. His green, bloodshot eyes were distressed, lined with dark shadows that stood out against his pale skin. His damp hair curled out of his hood, covering half of his face. A wet, red cut spread from the corner of his mouth up to his cheek. He looked so different I almost didn’t recognize him. I’d never seen him so vulnerable, so shattered.
“Danni…what happened?” I asked softly. All of a sudden he grabbed my arm tightly, his fingernails digging into my skin, still looking at me with the wide, demanding green eyes. I flinched. “Lena, listen to me.” His voice shook. “You have to stay away from me. Do you understand?” I was too shocked to answer. He shook my arm. “Lena, do you hear me? Stay away from me, and never try to find me again. Do you understand?”
Each word shot a bullet through my heart. I closed my eyes and shook my head. I took a deep, shaky breath. “Look, Danni, whatever is going on, you know that I am here for you. I can help you.” I tried to make my voice sound soothing, as if I were talking to a child, hiding my hurt. “No”, he said in a low voice, shaking his head. “Nobody can help me.” He dropped his head to the ground and turned back to the wall.
I couldn’t stand his attitude any longer. “Daniele! What the hell is going on? You will never tell me what is going on!! I understood that, I accepted that…but, you know what? Not anymore! If you can’t tell me what the hell is going on with you, this weird new attitude of yours…like one day you’re all in love with me, and the next you don’t talk to me for a month…no, you know what? It’s over! It’s over Daniele! I can’t take this anymore!! I can’t f*ing take this anymore!!”
I started to run away. I could hear footsteps behind me, getting closer and closer. I ran faster. “Stop following me!!” I screamed. I could still hear him running behind me. I stopped and turned around. “I’m warning you, Daniele! Stay away from me!!” He was standing about 4 feet way from me. I could only see a faint outline of his face through the fog. I saw that he had something black in his hand, and it was pointing towards me. A gun.
It’s strange that I don’t remember what really happened. It seems like a story of someone I don’t know, like I’m watching a movie of a main character’s life. The only difference is that I can think her thoughts, feel her anger, her happiness, her pain. At this moment, I’m not sure who I really am. I feel like I’m a mind without a body. I can see a girl lying on a bed in a bleached hospital room and I can see the memories of her life pass by her, and they seem so familiar to me, but at the same time so distant. Every now and then I feel a pang of pain that brings me back to bitter reality like a wake-up call. I fight it, I don’t let it overcome me. For some reason I like this feeling of being lost without identity: it’s easier, less of a struggle.
It was a perfect evening. The sky was studded with millions of tiny specks of light. The buzz of Manhattan seemed endlessly far away, only present by the illumination it cast into the night sky. It was cool for the beginning of October; I was bundled up in my matching red, wool scarf and mittens as I lay on the grass next to the pond.
Daniele lay beside me, his gaze towards the sky. I watched him through the corner of my eyes while he looked. His dark, thick eyelashes cast shadows on his angled cheeks, creating interlacing patterns, like lace. His face was peaceful and happy, his lips curved into a slight smile. He suddenly turned his head to the side, as If he knew I was staring at him. I blushed. He smiled a brilliant smile, showing his perfectly white teeth. His eyes sparkled in the dim light.
“Lena?” he asked, his gaze intense on mine. “Yeah?” “I want to tell you something.” “Oh, yeah?” I asked, inching my face closer to his. We were so close the tips of our noses touched ever so slightly, enough to bring a tingling through my body. “And, what is that?” I could feel the inhale and exhale of his breath on my skin. I let my eyes trail over his face, from the green eyes to the angled cheekbones and slanted nose, to the full lips. He said nothing and instead reached out his hand to brush away the strand of hair that fell into my face. His fingers lingered at my cheek and lightly trailed down to my chin, down to my neck. His touch was so light, so gentle, but it sent tinges of fire to my face where he touched.
Slowly, hesitantly, he brought his face closer to mine until I could smell the leather from his jacket and feel the heat his body gave off. Our lips touched ever so slightly, just a delicate brush of his soft lips on mine, sending a tingle through my spine. I raveled my hands into his thick, silky hair and kissed him again, with more intensity. His lips opened and closed with mine, moving together, mirroring the other, like it were never more natural. He tangled his hands into my long, wavy hair, pushing me down to the damp grass. We were both breathing deeply, breathing into each other. I was now lying on his chest. I could feel the steady thump of his heartbeat. Our kisses became more passionate, more fiery. He pulled his sweatshirt off over his head. I brought my fingers to his chest, my heart racing, exploring the smooth bumps and angles that protruded from his thin T-shirt.
It suddenly started to rain, soaking us in sheets of water. It fell down like a cascade, drenching into our hair and clothes. We rolled to the side and landed in a puddle, our lips still joined, sending a splash of water all around us. We burst out laughing, our clothes soaked in the water and mud. I was still lying on his chest, and I could feel the vibration of his laugh on my stomach.
Breathe. Blink. Breathe. Blink. I can see my eyesight start to blacken around the edges, my eyelids becoming heavy weights. My ears start to drain out the beeping of the monitor. I can feel my body struggle to breathe, each breath like breathing in water. I try to fight the blackness that is drowning me, but it’s impossible, I’m too weak.
Images start to flicker before my eyes, colorful, striking. I see a field with poppies. I see the ragged teddy bear I had when I was six. I see my dad on a hospital bed before he died. I see a tire swing covered in snow. I see my mom combing my hair when I was three. I see a bowl of cherries. Each image leaves as fast as it comes, but I can still see them all at the same time, forming one big image. The images start to fade. As soon as one leaves, it leaves a spot of emptiness, blankness, and nothingness. The emptiness grows bigger and bigger until there is nothing left. Absolutely nothing.