Life to the Fullest This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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I've never told this story to anyone ­before. I woke up to icy drops of rain ricocheting off the window sill onto my face. The blue light of a digital clock added to the eerie stillness of my room. 5:46. Both windows in my room were open and rain began to pool in the shallow basin against the screens. I pulled my pillow over my head and rolled over.

Now the rain made hollow thumps against my pillow. I sat up, uncomfortable in the clothing I'd fallen asleep in. I didn't want to get up but I swung my legs out of bed and placed my feet on the ground. Shoes still on. Dizzy. I stood and smelled the familiar scent of smoke, still pungent on my clothes. I remembered where I had been: a bonfire with a bunch of people, burning papers from AP Euro and chem class, a tradition on the last day of finals I had stolen from my brother. I had come home around midnight. Didn't even wake my parents. I fell asleep immediately after lying down.

At 5:47, I realized I was not going to fall back asleep. I stood on my bed and shoved the window closed, hands too tired to lock it. I stumbled over to the south-facing window and hoisted myself onto the ledge. I gingerly pushed the screen open and let the water drain out. Suddenly, the screen popped off and flung itself onto the shallowly steep roof one foot below. I stared at the white frame as it was pelted by tiny droplets. By now the cold rain had fully awakened me.

I stepped out onto the roof. The rain was light, soft enough that I could see the surrounding rooftops of my subdivision. The street lamps all shone different shades of blue-white and orange-yellow. Puddles formed in the sunken parts of concrete sidewalks. I had never seen my neighborhood so peaceful.

I was standing above the laundry room. Heat was coming off the shingles of the mansard roof. My window had been my escape route for many secret adventures, but I had never walked across its slope covered in rain. I slowly made my way to the chimney, jumped down to the ledge that stuck out of the side, and then down the deck box below. I didn't know what to do next.

I didn't even know why I was outside. Letting my feet take control, I unhinged the side gate and strolled to the front of the house. In the near silence, I was afraid to make a noise because any sound would echo in the quiet streets.

My mind was set in ­autopilot to walk to the high school, just around the corner, and I went at a casual pace. From the end of my street, I could see the orange glow of lights in the haze above the parking lot. I stopped at the baseball field and put my hands on the fence. I climbed up the metal net one foot at a time. At the top, I stopped and balanced on the slippery twisted wires. I leaned forward and looked at the reflection of the cloudy moon in a puddle drowning second base.

Once again I remembered last night. Surrounded by people, I had thought that was what life was all about. Being in a crowd was living life to the fullest. Letting thoughts drift off and just listening to someone's conversation, I thought I didn't need anything else. But as I clung to the fence, alone, with only my thoughts and the gradually increasing sound of rain, I thought maybe being by myself was living life to the fullest. ­Understanding the strange workings of my own thoughts and not taking in the words of someone else.

The loud, alarming Doppler radar sirens went off. Surprised by this sudden interruption of the hum of rain, I let go of the fence and fell onto the unforgiving sidewalk. I stood and noticed my clothes were soaked. How long had I been there? The street lamps had already turned off for the sunrise. I started my way back home. Off in the distance I saw the first flash of lightning. I counted, and 36 seconds later I heard thunder. Dividing by five, I estimated the storm was seven miles away. Clearly my conscious had returned, and my unconscious was silenced once again.

I didn't want to bother climbing up to the roof, so I dug the spare key out of its hiding place, opened the door, took off my shoes, and closed the second window in my room before going back to bed. I didn't even get up when I remembered I hadn't put the screen back.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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emilysbreakfast said...
Mar. 27, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Great piece. I relate to it a ton because my summer includes equal amounts of: bonfires, sneaking out, and night-time walks spent poring over life.

"I leaned forward and looked at the reflection of the cloudy moon in a puddle drowing second base"  I loved this sentence!

 
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