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Terrifying cries and pale blank faces still haunt me today. I lost a good friend four years ago, but I still feel that one day I’ll come home to him playing basketball outside of my house. Marcel Willams passed away on September 3, 2006. He was not just a family friend, most importantly he was my sister’s boyfriend. He loved basketball. That round orange sphere brought so much joy into his life that he played every day, twice a day. Basketball was never easy for me until I met Marcel. He helped me realize that even being 5’6”, I was a valuable player on the court. Marcel was a unique person, and ever since that day, basketball has never been the same.
“Allie, you have to jump girl!” Marcel says to me.
“Well, excuse me, mister 6’5”, not all of us were born giants!” I scream.
It’s Labor Day weekend, where everyone goes on vacations and has fun. But, of course, typical Marcel is on the black-top shooting hoops. The game is simple, he would always say. We always played intense one-on-one games, even though I never had a fair chance. My shots weren’t falling that day, but maybe that was because the “giant” hacked any motion of the ball leaving my hand. Marcel would dribble in between his spider long legs and jerk back and forth like a live noodle. I tried so hard to fake him one way but he always interpreted my plan, causing me to lose every game. It was mid afternoon and basketball was the last activity I wanted to be playing. My sister, Marcel, Maria and I were lying on the couches bored out of our minds until my mom ran in screaming…
“By the way, the family rented those new cabins at the lake for today and tomorrow, be ready in five!” Jumping to my highest peak, I scatter around my atrocious room to find a swim suit and some lake clothes.
We all crammed into the van like a pack of sardines, eagerly awaiting our destination; the lake. That big blue, green murky water never seemed as relieving as it did that afternoon. With the smell of smoke roasting in the air from numerous grills, I could taste the hamburgers on the tip of my tongue.
“Go get changed in the cabins. They are awesome!” My favorite girl cousin, Katie, projected from the beach shore. Before I could even speak, my nose inhaled the aroma of slimy fish. At this point, I knew it would be a memorable evening.
The log cabins were by far one of the best ideas my family could ever have planned. As Maria and I observed this fairly large, life-like house, I could hear numerous conversations and laughter being exchanged outside. We finally got dressed, then sprinted for the beach. The hot rocky sand sunk in between my toes as I approached the water. My little sister was building sand castles while my older sister and her friends were playing in the water. I dip my foot into the cold water. Hesitant to go in, I stand there for about five seconds. Overcoming the cold, I dive into the water as if I were Michael Phelps swimming in the Olympics. We all started having fun, doing back-flips off each other’s shoulders and dunking one another. This is what a Labor Day weekend felt like.
As time went by I found myself lying in the sand, my whole body outlined due to the fact I was drenched from head to toe. My stomach started talking to me and I knew exactly what it wanted, food. The walk back up felt like a torture, loose twigs and sharp rocks were scattered all across the path. I was barefoot and the nature all around made it clear they were alive. From chirps to cries, in sight was the grill holding my future meal. In walking distance of five feet from the boiling hot grill, I hear my sister scream…
“Allie! Mom! Call 911! We can’t find Marcel!”
My heart stopped. My mind was racing so fast it didn’t give me time to process that sentence in my head. Everyone darted down to the beach as if the lake had grown feet and walked away. Tara’s (my sister) face had “help” written all over it, as tears free-fell down her cheeks with the look of fear bulging from her eyes.
“Marcel went under water to try to swim across the cove and never came up!” she cries.
A few of my family members went into the water to try and find him. He had never breached from the water, so no one knew where to look. Popping up and down like a pack of prairie dogs, family members were using every breath they had to submerge into the terrifying water to find Marcel. No one could find him. Fifteen minutes later, the police showed up. By that time, enough phone calls had been made, that when I glanced up at the cabins my eyes were filled with over a hundred unfamiliar faces.
Cries became louder, and arguments arouse right when I heard a loud speaker project, “Everyone needs to get behind the cabins, no one is allowed on the bank.” The black and white uniforms were scattered around everywhere. I didn’t know what to say nor what to think. My mind was like a brand new notepad, blank sheet after blank sheet. Marcel was such a muscular, athletic person, none of it made sense. From sniffs of runny noses, to screams for Marcel’s appearance, an hour had passed and he still wasn’t found. All the chirps from nature were silent, the lake looked restless. Sitting on the grass, I felt life-less. The wait for his body to be found was the worst part of it all. I couldn’t even catch my own breath, let alone see clearly. I was hyperventilating and the view from my eyes came to me as a blur. As I grew enough strength to stand up, I looked for my sister. She was sitting on the old, cracked maroon picnic table with her hands hiding her face. Her eyes were blood-shot and her tears danced upon the table. I gently grasped her weightless hand, feeling no energy in return. We patiently sat there, hand in hand, waiting for an answer we never wanted.
Two hours later, they found him. His weighted soul was captured 30 feet under water.
Every day I drive across Milford Dam and remember that day as if it just happened yesterday. The cries, mourns, and screams will forever ring in my ears. Driving down that straight- away is like playing a nightmare over and over again. My heart won’t allow me to take a different route home, because when I cruise, on what seems like a never ending road, I feel like he is there, watching over me.