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Ready or Not, Here Death Comes

I didn’t understand the concept of death until that day at the Tulsa Public Library. For a child of only ten years-old, I just didn’t get it – I wasn’t able to get it. I didn’t even know the couple who tragically met their undesirable fate that afternoon, but somehow I have kept them in my mind and with me for the last seven years. Life –living in general- used to mean being here on earth until you were wrinkly, old, and wise. I no longer think that way.
It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 2003. My little sister, Julia, who was six years-old at the time, and I were bored so my father offered to take us downtown to the public library. I was really interested in a series called A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket that year, so I knew exactly what I was going to get. The series itself was pretty morbid for a 5th grader to read, but it sure did build up my vocabulary. The next book in the series was The Ersatz Elevator, which I can only remember because I can recall how the red binding of the book gleamed in the sunlight from the windows in the library. Julia, on the other hand, was more excited to check-out one of the silly short, chapter books she had just grown interested in from school. Without thinking twice about it, the three of us hurried to the car and made the ten minute drive downtown.
I recall that we parked in the free parking, which was located near the main entrance across from the post office. I remember seeing several raggedy, homeless men along the walkway outside and by the check-out desk for that entrance as we walked into the building. “I guess even poor men want to read,” I thought to myself. We went up a staircase that led to the main library. That staircase took whoever climbed it to the section of the upstairs where most of the adult books were kept. To this very day, I still have yet to venture into the more advanced books of the library. Then again, I haven’t been to the library since 5th grade.
The children’s books were downstairs in a special room by another entrance. My sister and I deserted our dad and bolted down the main staircase, past the various tables and chairs where college students and adults were working diligently and straight into the colorful room for children. Julia went to the “baby” section, and I practically ran to the shelf which I already knew contained my book. Finding it nearly immediately, I dove into the exotic words and punctuation of Lemony Snicket’s sinister world.
They say time flies when you’re having fun. I was most definitely engrossed in my book, but time seemed quite stationary as I sat on one of the cushioned window seats that afternoon. Maybe it was because I was anxious to check out the book and take it home. I don’t recall.
The next thing I remember is hearing something quite large smash into something else. I thought it might have been someone dropping books. It wasn’t. Then people in the lobby started running past the room for children's books, towards the exit. There came shrieks and yelling from outside by the courtyard.
“Someone, call 9-1-1!” a woman yelled, with a tone in her voice I had never heard before. She was in a panic. She was scared. Something was wrong.
I never did see what happened or get a glimpse of the two gnarled bodies that were dragged from the wreckage of the car smashed into the tree near the courtyard. It was on the news later that night. A boy at my school was in the wreck. His mom and her boyfriend were killed instantly. The boyfriend had had a seizure while driving. His knees had locked and the car was lost in a sea of forsaken helplessness. The boy survived.
I learned that day that death doesn’t always come when you expect it. It happens whether you’re ready or not.



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Ren-P. said...
Sept. 27, 2010 at 11:11 pm
You are a great writer. I am sorry that someone in your class died. That's sad. I like the way you write. Your article is really discriptive. I esspecially love it because being from Tulsa I can picture the downtown library...It's always cool to read something by someone from Tulsa. Good job! :)
 
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