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And nobody found her for hours. A story of life as Kallie Mickleson. The End.
This came subsequently a story of “Kallie”. A story of ultimate demise on one’s own part. A story where nothing ever went right. Where the only answer was death. But none of this was such mental paralysis as the fact that the girl who called herself “Kallie” wrote this story as a clue to all who read it, disguised by a clever third-person perspective and an alter ego. There was nothing else for it. Why else would she keep such safeguard over that ridiculous jewelry box? What else would explain it? Nothing. Yes . . . . . it all fit. This story was written by none other than my best friend, Lenny Manter.
As I slowly came to this morbid conclusion, I shook my head, and my heavy breathing set in. “No . . . . . no . . . no, no, NO, NO!!” I glanced around in the hopes that nobody had seen my outburst. I breathed a sigh of relief, which soon became tension that hung unwanted in the air as I realized that there was nobody to give me a ride. So now I had only my freaking wonderful bike to get me home. Great. I was all alone behind the large lower building at my school, where I had found a story of a girl in a supposed worst case scenario. A girl who kept a kitchen knife handy, or rather, in a jewelry box locked with a hidden key. A story blown from the trash locker into my hands. But now what? Panic began to set in at about the time that the story fell out of my hands, into the wind and rain and down the drainage
pipe that led who knows where. But all drains lead to the ocean, right? I entertain myself for a moment as I imagine Nemo and Marlin swimming by Len’s water-soaked cry for help. Swallowing hard, trying to be strong and work out a plan, but nothing came. So I began walking aimlessly, hopelessly, as I walked into view of the bike rack. And then I broke into a run towards the bike rack, a plan forming subconsciously as I ran headlong into my bike.
“Ow! Ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffudge!!” From looking at my leg, I had just hit my thigh on the tire. From feeling my leg, I now had a large bruise on my mid-thigh. I shook my leg and knelt down to undo the lock on my bike. My frigid fingers fumbled with the combination lock that held it to the rack. I inwardly cursed my age, 13; I had numerous years to go before driving was even in the realm of possibility. But now was no time to mope and groan about that. This really was a life or death situation. So I picked up my leisurely pace, and came astride the bicycle and half walked, half lifted my bike out of the rack. I began to pedal out of the campus to the 7-11 (and bus stop) where I waited a grand total of forty-five seconds before the nearly empty bus came to a halt. The paint job was worn out; it had definitely seen better days. But it definitely was my best chance of getting home anytime soon, especially in this weather.
The doors to the bus hissed and creaked as they opened. I hoisted my bike off of the ground, its back wheel spinning pathetically. I pass the gruff bus driver and deposit my money into the jar bearing the legend “Pay Now O-” and the rest of the sign was falling off of the jar. The jar matched the bus. Old, decrepit, and almost empty. I made my way to the center of the bus, which, for one had the only seats with room for my bicycle, and conveniently housed the only inhabitants of the bus; myself and an old lady who bore some kind of resemblance to a raisin. I must look frazzled, because she gives me a sort of reassuring smile as I sit down.
My pulse rate skyrockets as I wonder what to do. Should I send her a message via Facebook? No, she never went on there. Should I email her? No, she doesn’t ever check it. Should I try and text her? No, I could never put that in writing. Should I try and tell her tomorrow? No. Because she might not be . . . . . . .
I suddenly am shaking uncontrollably. and my breathing is at double-time as well as shallow. I closed my eyes and began to see memories flooding back to me like water. The day I met her. I was at play rehearsals and she sat on the floor, looking ill and tired, but singing nonetheless. The first time I spoke to her, the first week into school. Our curtain call at the show, taking bows and singing the encore, her face shining with pride as the audience applauded. The time I noticed that she only wore long-sleeve shirts. If only I had realized what that meant before now. The time she told me she was manic-depressive . . . .
Oh, God. Oh, God. Why didn’t I notice??? Why am I so stupid??
She TOLD ME!!! She told me, in the hopes that I would know, that I would realize what she was trying to do! I am so STUPID! I should have noticed!!!
“No, no, no, no, NO!!”
The old raisin lady looked at me. I brushed my hair out of my face and realized that I had been crying. But just like that, I had a plan. The old lady looked at me again, and then spoke.
“Everything will be okay, dear. Whatever it is, it will right itself in time.” I nodded to her as the old bus squeaked to a stop on the corner of my block. I yanked my bike to the front of the bus, and pedalled home. Yes. I had a fully formulated plan. Triumph surged through me, pushing me forward.
I could be the life line.
Breathing hard, I dashed through my house, tearing through the halls to my last hope. My bedroom. I had her phone number, and now I needed it more than ever. The question was, where? I scanned the room for options. My trashed file cabinet? Not there. My shelf? Not there. My torn-up binder? Not there. As I gazed around my totally thrashed room, I sank to my knees in despair. Never again would I see her. Never again would I hear her. Never again would that skinny sneaker-clad girl walk the halls, singing to anybody who passed by. Goodbye to the girl who never had a mean word to say. Goodbye to the girl who sang her heart out. Goodbye, goodbye, Lenny Manter. A single tear rolled down my face as I accepted the truth. A glint of blue came to my eye with more tears.
Wait a minute. That was it. Lenny’s phone number. The paper, the metallic Sharpie. I snagged the paper and my heart soared. This was it! I could call her. I could save her. I reached into the muff
pocket of my sweater and, fingers weak with anticipation, I pulled out my phone, and dialed her number. The dial tone rang for what seemed like an eternity before there was an answer.
“Len, is that you?”
“Yeah, it’s me.” Ummm, how do I put this?
“I found your story, Len.”
“I . . . .justwantyoutoknowthatIcare.”
“Think about it. Your Broadway dreams. The fact that you are widely admired. The fact that I admire you. I would really miss you if, you know . . . .”
“Sorry, Len, I gotta go. Hopefully I’ll see you on Monday. Bye, Len.”