September 29, 2009
By , New Hope, MN
The day was downcast and dreary
Perfect weather for a frown
She hid her tears behind a sweater hood
And drove her stained pick-up truck
To the back of the school lot

She walked down the hallways
With her head held low
Never looking up to greet a single soul
She took a seat in the back of class
And began to dream the day away

“What if I ceased to exist?”
“Or simply disappeared without a trace?”
“What if Papa set down that bottle?”
"Long enough to see what’s behind my eyes”
“What if Mama suddenly seemed to care?”

Her daze was interrupted
With the teacher’s monotone voice
“Do you know the answer?”
She looks up long enough to shake her head
And darts back into her fantasy

“What if Family Services rat Papa out?”
“What if I was sent to Foster care?”
“What if my new daddy held me with love?”
“Genuine, tender, and caring love”
“What if Mama cared for me constantly?”

The class bell rang
And she shot up from her seat
She made her way out into the dank hallways
For her least favorite part of the day
Lunch time

She sat down at a random table
Filled with unknown faces
They all stood and walked away when she sat down
She drank a Vitamin Water 10
And began to dream once again

“Should I look sexier?”
“Should I lose more weight?”
“Should I change how I look?”
“Should I talk more, talk less?”
“Should I just end this once and for all?”

She threw away her food
And quietly walked to her next class
Her science partner kept a good distance from her
And completed the experiment without her help

Two o’ clock finally came
The bell sounded throughout the building
She rushed out to her bus
Took a seat in the very back seat
A spit ball came flying her way

She arrived back home
Called out into the emptiness
Locked herself in her room
Flopped down on her bed
And cried until she couldn’t breathe

“Maybe I should keep crying”
"Maybe it will stop my breathing all together”
"Maybe I should run away”
“Maybe I should live out on the streets”
“Maybe I shouldn’t”

Her Mom arrived home without even a “hello”
She walked out of her room
Her Mom looked at her
Then sighed and looked away
She flew back to her room

Her mom left her in charge of dinner
She cooked scrambled eggs
And proceeded not to eat a bite
She nibbled on a celery stick
Then lied in her bed and slept

The front door slammed open at midnight
His voice immediately boomed
“Where’s my baby?!”
Her Mom rushed downstairs
“Hey baby! How was the bar?!”

She immediately began to tremble
And hid under the blankets
He stormed up the stairs
“Maybe tonight he’ll be in a good mood”
She debated in her mind

He opened the door and barged in
She closed her eyes and pretended to sleep
“Guess whose home?!”
She breathed out a sigh of relief and thought
“He is in a good mood”

The next day landed on a Saturday
She slept in until noon
Trudged downstairs, pulled up the shades
Everything felt so empty
She decided it was time for a walk

The air was brisk and cool
The clouds parted
Revealing a touch of Sun
She made her way towards the park
For her favorite swing

She found the park empty
“Absolutely perfect timing”
She swung in an absurd motion
Fighting different emotions
Running through her head

“What if this the last time I ever swing?”
“This could be my last day here”
“What if I don’t wake up tomorrow morning?”
“I could end this all in a heartbeat”
“Or continue living through this hell”

She was just getting up
When she spotted a group of six
Holding a notorious reputation at her school
A reputation for bullying
A reputation for ruining a kid’s life

They spotted her at the same moment
And sloppily walked over to her
She tried to run away
Tried to ignore them
But they grabbed her sweater hood

Her body slammed into the ground
They cursed at her, spit at her
When they left, she could barely move
Her eyes were black and blue
Her mouth gushing red

She ran back home
And up to her room
A Bible lay in the far reaches of her shelf
Screaming, she grabbed it and tore it apart
Scattering its remains in the garbage

She darted to her dresser drawer
Breathed in and out
Pulled out something she feared to use
Something she had always tried to use
But always put away before she pulled its trigger

It stood loaded in her hand
Seeming to call out to her
“Shoot me! Watch me go through your head!”
Hands trembling, she lodged it in her mouth
She tasted metal

A tear slipped down her cheek
“Please… please let me pull this trigger”
But another voice went off inside her house
“Don’t do it… look in your garbage”
She dropped the weapon and fell to the floor

Her sobs were at a near scream
She dragged herself to the trash
Pulled out the torn pages of the good Book
Rearranging them like a jigsaw puzzle
She read the first verse that caught her eye

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness
And brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
In whom we have redemption,
The forgiveness of sins.”
-Colossians 1:13-14

She collapsed on the floor
And called out to God
“Please save me, Lord!”
“Forgive me of my sins!”
“Save me from the darkness!”

Her room door then slammed open
Her father stood there, stumbling, stuttering
“Wh- what are you d- d- doing with a Bible?”
He hit her
He hit her hard

He beat her
He beat her hard
He slapped her
He slapped her hard
He walked out

She never did open her eyes
“Colossians 1:13-14” lay strewn across her chest
Not a soul at school knew her
But that didn’t stop them from trying
Trying to give her a legacy

Together, they rallied up the city
Planned a funeral at the local church
Hired a pastor, bought bundles of roses
And she was lifted up so high
When 2,500 kids showed up at her funeral

Her mother had fled, never to be seen again
Her father lived his life in the nearest jail cell
Everyone who never knew her
Who never said a word to her
Stood there crying on that fateful day

She never opened her eyes
Not in her closed casket
Not when she was buried underground
Not when 2,500 roses were scattered on her grave
Not when 2,500 kids uttered a, “I’m sorry”

But sometimes you’re just too late
Sometimes a chance slips through your fingers
Sometimes you realize this
As you stare in the face
The tombstone you could’ve prevented…

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