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There’s a reason I’m not friends with Johnny Husane anymore.
It’s not because he went on and did something childish, like telling my secrets.
It’s not even because he wrecked my car or insulted my father.
I forgave him for those things. I forgave, because that’s what friends do. Forgive and forget.
I stopped being friends with Johnny Husane because he killed my Mother.
I didn’t walk in to see him slitting her throat with a knife, or hear the gun shot down the street as I ambled on home. Nothing as graphic as that. His actions weren’t even deliberate. But what friendship can survive that kind of fault? I think none. Ours couldn’t at least. We didn’t need the constant reminder of our past.
People say that you don’t miss something, or realise how lucky you were until that something, is gone. Gone forever. Lost into the abyss of the past. I had gotten used to our home. Now, it’s just a house. I walk inside, feel the slight breeze from a window. Notice the wearing hardwood floors, the crack’s in the ceiling, and the dent on the left side of the wall. I could go upstairs, see a table. A table with frames, and frames filled with pictures. Pictures of memories, and the people who fill them. The main picture on that table, is one of my mum and dad, before they were married. It’s them, smiling. Happy. I don’t think my dad is ever happy now. How can he be? With that picture to remind him, every time he walks past. Sometimes I think he sleeps in his office just so he doesn’t have to pass that picture. Sometimes I even think he want’s to put it away. Somewhere safe of course. But still somewhere, where he doesn’t have to see it. Other days, that thought is completely drenched and overpowered, with the thought of admitting that my Mother is gone.
I’m a runner. I can’t dribble or kick a ball. I can’t hit with a bat or a stick. But I can run. I could run forever, if it was possible. I could get lost in the constant pound of each footstep against the dirt. Against the cement. Against anything my feet want to hit, as long as they don’t stop pounding. Johnny, he was a football player. Not the European kind, but good old American football. I hated the game. No, hate’s too mild of a word. I detested it. The grunting, the tackling. I’d take running along the tree’s alone in peace, than a sweaty guy three times my size chasing me. Johnny had a different view though. He carried his pigskin everywhere. Down the beach on a rainy day. To seven-eleven for milk. Johnny and his football. They were a two packaged deal. You couldn’t have one without the other. But Johnny was the kind of guy who was friends with everyone, including a lonesome guy like me. Oh, sure I had the occasional drink too much at a party, but I was more the quiet kid in the corner, smiling at jokes others made. Johnny liked to think of himself as the king of the castle. Maybe that’s why we used to hang out so much. He didn’t have the competition of alpha dog, I just gave it to him and his damn football.
On this rainy Saturday, the place to be for Johnny and his football happened to be 216 Evergreen Drive. My home. Or used to be anyways.
Johnny was sitting in my kitchen, nattering on about his latest encounter with his parent’s, latest hook up with a girl, and generally the types of things that I listened but did not care about. Johnny was the guy who talked, but never listened. I doubt he’ll ever get married.
“What’s that?” Johnny asked, that rainy Saturday. “On the wall.”
I turned, glancing for what he was enquiring about. “Oh.” I responded, uninterested once I saw. “That.”
Johnny peaked his left eyebrow, his question hanging in the air. I sighed a heavy sigh. One filled with regret of this topic ever surfacing.
“An old family portrait. My mum got it when her mum died.”
Johnny scooted off his chair in the kitchen, leaving his detachable limb on the table. He skimmed up and down the picture, counting four girls and two boys. He had seemed uninterested, until he asked that one question, I’d been dreading him to ask.
“Which one is your mum?”
“She’s not in it.” I answered quickly, not wanting to go into the topic.
Johnny was never one for sensing the tone. “Why not?”
I shrugged. “She didn’t want to be.”
Johnny left the subject alone, apparently bored with it. That was one nice thing about Johnny, he wasn’t much of a deep thinker, and I wasn’t one for talk. We fit in that way at least.
The hours passed us by. The rain rained on. When TV was no longer entertaining and Johnny has persisted to checking his phone for party invites every 30 seconds, I knew I could soon clamour upstairs and fall asleep to some alternative rock and drift off into my own world. I had no interest of parties that night. But I knew if I wanted to next weekend, Johnny would surely invite me. He never failed to let me know.
Mum walked in the door, cheerful as ever.
“Hey Mrs. H!” Johnny said, getting up off the couch. “Heads up!”
Johnny threw the football. Threw it horribly off target, and with unfortunate impressive force. The football spiralled, hitting my mum’s old family portrait. The glass shattered, and the frame and picture fell to the floor. My mum stood in shock, and gave an appalled look to Johnny.
“What on earth were you thinking?”
Johnny’s eyes widened. “I’m so sorry. Maybe I could…”
Johnny nodded, and ducked out the front door. Not before grabbing his football though.
Mum bent over, and began picking up the bits of glass. She paused, when she saw the letter.
The letter had been behind the portrait for almost 13 years. And it was written to my mum. I never got to read the letter. It went up in flames before I ever got the chance. All I know is, with each line that my mum’s eyes scrolled over. With each word that was transmitted into her memory, she became a different person. He eyes began to darken. Her lips began to quiver. She dropped the letter into a candle, and charged up the stairs. That was the last time I saw my mum. Alive, that is.
The actual last time I saw my mum, was in her bed. She looked asleep, but she was gone. Her brain was off, her heart wasn’t beating. She never left a note. Only a container of pills, left open on the side of her bed.