Fortune

October 29, 2017

Ten o’clock at night; the sky is dark with gloom stretching infinitely and disappearing behind trees, as the stars are just barely visible. The only lights around are those in front of the canteen and shining through nearby bunk windows. Familiar faces surround us, yet everyone seemed so far away. We were sitting by a tree, Daniel and I. The rest of our friends sat in what seemed to be an attempt of a circle nearby, but just looks like a clump of adolescent teenagers all eager to join into one conversation.
           
Camp was almost over. To most people, camp sounds like a summer of games and activities, but that’s not how I think of it. Going to camp gives me the opportunity to engage with hundreds of new people scattered between different states throughout the country. Camp is a time to make memories and experience the craziest adventures with people I can’t possibly imagine life without, people who mean more than the world to me, people I love with my entire heart. Camp lets me live my life without worrying about how other people perceive me. It gives me an opportunity to be myself without any ties or past incidents coming back to haunt me, without anyone from home bringing me down. And that was just what I needed. 
            
But at this very time, my heart ached. The summer was coming to an end. Soon, my friends and I will be going our separate ways. The only ties to each other will be through social media and the rare reunions we will have. I’ll spend my last few weeks of summer miserable and longing for the familiar sounds of laughter and joy from my second family.
           
As I sit here with Daniel, I explain my previous 8th grade experiences; the typical middle school drama, the exclusiveness, the rudeness, and me just trying to fit in like the rest of the world. To me, my life as a fourteen-year-old girl was horrible. Yet, little did I know, people have it much worse.
            
Sitting next to me, he starts to tell his story. Daniel – one of my best friends. The guy that smiles at you dumbly when you make eye contact as if you have been friends forever, even if you’ve just met. He’s the one to crack a joke in a tough time, the guy to make the most of a bad situation. He makes you feel the way music does, the way you want to feel.
           
He begins with the words, “I found my neighbor dead on his couch.” These eight words stung my ears like a wasp. “My neighbor is like my uncle,” he goes on, “my mom has known him forever –” and he pauses to swallow down the tears welling up in his eyes. “It was a Sunday afternoon when he wasn’t answering his phone. We knew he was home because his car was in the driveway. My mom and I walked over and banged on his door but there was no answer. We continued and eventually just walked in - and there he was… lying... dead… on his living room couch.” My sweatshirt sleeve was in my mouth now, stopping me from bursting into heavy sobs. He was crying, I was crying, and it seemed like nothing else in the world mattered.
             
I thought that was it. I thought finding your neighbor dead was horrific, terrifying, and scarring. But there was more. Daniel continues, “A week later my best friends dad died. A week after that, my mom’s best friend died.” No words seemed to leave my mouth. There was so much I wanted to say- so many feelings I needed to express, but I was at a loss for words. I couldn’t respond. I didn’t know how.
          
 “A week after that, my grandpa was hospitalized,” he tells me. “And do you know what he said?” There was a silence for a moment as Daniel wiped the tears from his eyes. “He said, ‘hurry this up already.’ And there he went.’”
            
Dumbfounded, I sat there. Once again I couldn’t manage to speak. The only noises I made were the whimpers of my cry as they were muffled by my sweatshirt sleeve. This was one of my best friends. Not a random person from camp, or a fictional character in a movie. This was real.
           
“And you know, it’s just me and my mom. No dad, no siblings, just the two of us,” he managed to add in. “I couldn’t help but think, why is this all happening to me? Why is it that everyone who is close to me died?” I knew where this was going. My eyes were shut as if glue was keeping them together. Sitting here, I was oblivious to the world around me. My friends talking nearby had disappeared. It was as if the dark night sky had completely swallowed me into a black whole where the anguish filling my body had no end.
            
“What did I do to deserve this? What was the point of even living anymore?” He was hysterical now. Tears dripped from my eyes onto his grey sweatpants. The grey blobs were the paintings of a devastated teenager.
            
“I still have scars on my arms,” he managed to cry out.






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