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It’s raining and it’s cold, and even though it’s June it feels like April. The white sky tells me nothing. I’m so tired but I’m trying not to close my eyes because then I’ll see him, and then I’ll cry.
I look back down the emerald-green, dew-coated hill, feigning wonder over what two of my friends down there are doing. He still hasn’t come out of the building. But there- the little wannabe he always talks to, shrieking over some text she just got from I-don’t-know-who. That’s odd. Maybe he’s found a new girl.
“Go,” mutters some random seventh-grader behind me, and I turn around, realizing the light has turned to the shiny white ‘Walk’ signal. My unfashionable sneakers hit a puddle on the cold black pavement.
What is it? Is it that I’m smart? Is it my dust-cloud hair, my fire-engine-red acne? Is it my unshaved legs? Is it the fact that I don’t obsess over makeup? I don’t conform to society’s ever need? That I love him more than Justin Bieber? More than anyone, anything?
She sucked the life out of him. I could see it. Sometimes my hands itched to put my hands around her perfect little neck and strangle her. And it had nothing to do with jealousy. I could see the signs in him- same as it was with me. He’d run after her for a day, happy, as she catered to his every need and would look fascinated with whatever he was talking about. The next day, she was with a cooler guy, and he was devastated.
Sometimes he would smile. Sometimes he would look at me. And sometimes, my pen sat poised near my wrist, ready to attack. A knife leaves long, thick scars, scars that lead to boring therapy sessions. No one can see the invisible scars a ballpoint pen tip leaves behind. But it feels like the pen sucks out the pain. Funny- you’d think a sharp pen would cause pain, not get rid of it. Yet the pen took out the pain. And then it whooshed out of the pen again onto paper.
He’s my inspiration. My sole inspiration. His name blurs in the back of my mind, untainted by tears, keeping me standing, letting me take one…more…step. He’s not the reason for my pain.
Seventh grade was such an odd year. I remember it well. Depression from realizing how horrid my supposed ‘friends’ were, was clashed fiercely with joy from realizing my first love. Funny- you’d think I’d have been more depressed when he had that little girlfriend. Yet I wasn’t. He was so alive. He didn’t care about looking cool, what people thought of him… He never claps anymore, doesn’t show that he has emotions. Like a zombie.
The nights I cried myself to sleep weren’t because of him, it was them. Laughing and tossing their sleek blond hair behind their heads. “Sorry- did I forget to tell you a secret? That’s because I don’t trust you.” I trusted her! “I won’t tell anyone- promise.” And the next day that little brat she was friends with was asking me why I would like a guy with (gasp!) a girlfriend. The minute she tossed his name across the table, like a pair of dice that had hit me in the heart. Two magnets clicking in my head. They. Hate. You. My. Friends. Hate. Me.
It took a while for the cut in my heart to heal. I rattled it with the thick books I hit my arm with, hoping to shake out the pain. But it stayed, so I salted it with tears streaming down my face, hoping to wash out the pain. But it stayed, so I stained it with words flying across the document my novel was stored in, hoping to write out the pain. And then- slowly but surely- word by word- the pain started to dissolve. The scars healed. My eyes came into focus. And I saw my true friends gathered around me.
It was a new group- hard to break into. But they filled my eighth grade year with warmth like the scent of baking cookies fills a kitchen. Each time he ignored me, the empty void in my heart was filled yet again with laughter, smiles, songs, and oddly enough- chocolate! Words and characters from my novel chipped in. I broke off from the gaming websites I’d joined and returned to my writing website, where I discovered that unlike what I’d thought during my months of depression, I was not worthless- I’d been missed by my amazing writer friends. And soon enough, I had hope again. I had faith.
It was D.C. that brought me crashing back down to the dark hole. I’d been stupid enough to believe he was in love with me, and I went on the overnight field trip full of hope, gazing into the deep blue sky on the bus and singing, to the great annoyance of my friend. I hadn’t gotten the chance to see him until we toured the monuments at sunset. And there- at Lincoln Memorial- the great president towering above us all. And there he was. For that split second, I realized who I believed to be greater. And then I saw her.
The wind blew into my imperfect hair as I defiantly rushed down the marble steps of the memorial, towards the glimmering waters of the National Mall. I looked up, but he was still talking to… her. I clutched my pen and notebook, where one of my friends stood at the edge of the water, looking out at it.
I tried to speak. But no words came out.
The walk to the World War II Memorial was one of the most painful- and life-changing- twenty minutes of my life. Amidst my fellow students and tourists, I felt completely and totally alone. It wasn’t like this hadn’t happened before, but somehow this time, it hit me harder. My tears were practically impossible to choke back. If anyone had bothered to look at me, they would have seen an odd sight- squinting, blinking, laughing, swallowing, coughing, fake-sneezing, and finally, plunging my pen into my arm. I took a deep breath… another… another… A girl I’d once been friends with randomly walked up to me and yelled, “I need to pee!” I laughed, letting the laughter wash the pain away. And there, on the black pavement, in the light of the setting sun, I suddenly realized that I was more important than anything that tried to block my path.
The following afternoon when we took the bus back, the sky was still blue, but I was no longer hopeful. My friend fell asleep and instead of singing to wake her up, I stared at the movie screen, not really watching the movie that was on.
Not until the following Monday did I realize what was happening. I had hope again, I had faith again. June had finally arrived, and with it the sparkling sun, beautiful dew-coated mornings and clouds of haze over the fields. My friends and I ran, and under my feet a new song began. The song of hope.