Power of a Book

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Eyebrows furrowed in concentration, outline of a calculator imprinted on my skin, eyelids drooping with fatigue, slouching over a pile of exponentially growing homework, the only thing I care about on this seemingly typical Wednesday school night is flying to toasty, pillow-strewn paradise. My heart leaps with excitement as I hear the familiar "Ding!" of a new message in my email. Smiling to myself, I find the desired tab and see the name of the sender.
That name...his name...I thought I'd never see it again. Blinking rapidly, breathing in shallow pants, I'm whisked back to that painful summer a world away. Clenching the kitchen counter until my knuckles turn white, he stands before me, so close, yet so far. The exchanged glower in our narrowed eyes and the flush on my face as angry hysteria builds in me fills the air with palpable tension, daring the gathering crowd of friends to intercede. The cutting retorts and bitter insults grow and grow...until he utters it. The word no girl should ever have to hear. It was the last he would ever say to me, until now.
"I am going to commit suicide."
There are no words to describe this moment. Nothing that can give voice to the strange sensation I felt when I read those seven words.
The shame overwhelms me to say this; I powered off my computer and left for my bedroom without a backward glance or second thought. I just couldn't bring myself to tell him the words he needed to hear. The thought of making myself so vulnerable once more...I just couldn't do it. The awful words, endless insults, and hurtful betrayals echoed through my mind as strongly as the day they left his lips, leaving me shaken with mixed emotions. With my heart numb and heavy as lead, I climbed into bed with a novel, A Walk to Remember, in hand. A blissful half hour passed, my face lit with rapture when Landon finally worked up the nerve to ask Jamie to be his girlfriend and then, I encountered the page where she confesses that she is living with leukemia.
Hot tears started trickling down my face and not just because the vivid scene was so emotional, reality had hit me like a two by four. Jamie was going to die from cancer. The sweet, quiet girl, who helps out at charities, never lets anyone get the best of her, carries a Bible and embraces life with open arms was going to die. My...friend, who places at every math competition and coaxes the most wonderful songs from the piano with skillful fingers, was going to take his own life. And I was about to let it all happen.
That was the moment my eyes were opened. There was no doubt about it, Landon and Jamie inspired me to take action. The bravery for pushing the past behind me was found. The fear that this might only be a cruel joke was extinguished. Despite the circulating rumors that Jamie was odd and the corresponding appearance she gave by wearing clothes that differed from everyone else, Landon took the time to know her and stood up for her even though everybody snickered and teased. I could hear Landon’s voice reverberate through me, scolding me with a trace of disgust for the unforgivable act of letting a life hang. Bolting out of bed, heart clenched with worry, I opened my email and composed a message for him. Swallowing the anger and heart-stabbing memories, I let myself type all the words that my frozen fingers had not had the courage to do before. The thought that he might humiliate me if I told him I cared about him was definitely still there but it didn't matter anymore. I was not going to let him die.
Three days passed with no reply. Each of those days, I composed a new message for him, one that I reached deep into my soul and conveyed. Each of those days, I thought about Landon and Jamie. For me, Landon was my guide through this whole tragic process. When my face was wet with tears and eyes glistening with unshed ones, Landon offered hugs and wiped them all away. He really came alive and walked off of the pages. The stunning similarity between his relationship with Jamie and my relationship with my friend brought reality into clarity and sent me irrevocably on the path to maturity. Just like how an angelic heart was buried deep within a girl who was shy-spoken and wore drab sweaters, beneath the merciless façade he put on for me, a lost boy was crying for help. When Landon knew of Jamie’s shortened days, he sought to discover everything she had wished to accomplish in her life and assist her in those goals. Even through the cloud of pain that she was soon to slip away, he still held her hand and prayed for a ray of sunlight.
On the 27th of December, I was invited to a Christmas party. Walking through the door with platters of cookies and baked goods in hand, I was greeted by a smile on a person who I never thought capable. Those five hours, we never said a word, but somehow I knew that he had made the right choice.
During those times when life felt like a snow globe shaken over and over until the snow would never settle down, books were the one who set it on a windowsill and offered stability. They have given me a moment to remember, one that I will treasure my entire life. The power of a book is never to be doubted. I sincerely thank them for changing my life and saving another.

With encouraging words and a friend who stood by him, this previously suicidal person has turned his life around, is currently dating his first girlfriend and has become a member of his high school’s math club.

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