Well, this story takes place after the movie, but not too long after. It's told from Charlie's perspective, in first person, and in present tense. Everything else is really explained in the story. Oh, by the way, this is major angst, so, if you don't like that, what the hell are you doing in the category for Dead Poets Society?! That's all the movie is!
Disclaimer: I must sadly say that I do not own Dead Poets Society. It would be spiffy if I did, but I don't so I'll just have to get over it.
I haven't spoken to any of them yet. I didn't even get to say goodbye to them before I left. As soon as my parents heard, they came and got me. It's kinda funny to think that Cameron—of all of them—was the last one I actually spoke to. It wasn't by choice, of course, but it's still true. He was in the room when I was packing. I don't remember what he said to me, but I do remember telling him that it was bullshit and he should fuck off. So maybe my language isn't all too nice when I'm angry.
I didn't look at any of the things that I stuffed into my suitcase. I wasn't paying any attention to anything, really. But my bags were packed in less than five minutes. I wanted out of that room as quickly as possible. Not only to get away from Cameron, but also to get away from that school and all the memories there. A little bit, I guess I was happy to be leaving. Maybe 'happy' isn't the right word, but something along those lines. All I know is, I wanted out of there.
And so my parents took me away. Let me assure you, I didn't even look back as we drove away. I didn't talk either. My parents tried to talk to me, to get some sort of erroneous excuse that I wouldn't give that—hell, I wouldn't even give them one that was truthful. So, when they finally realized I wouldn't speak to them, they shut up. I was grateful for that.
It didn't take very long to enroll me in a different school. Another expensive, uptight private school. I immediately hated it and I still do. So, two days later, I was here. I don't even remember the name of the school, even though I was just at a short meeting with the headmaster and I'm sure he said it multiple times. I'd even guess that he didn't realize I wasn't listening to a damn word he said.
Now here I am in this lousy dorm room with a new roommate whose name I don't recollect, despite the fact that we've been in the same room for almost five whole days, and I'm finally putting away my things that haven't been removed since I was at Welton. Just the thought is infuriating, so I try to push it away. I've been putting it off just because of this. Just because I know I'll remember it even more than I normally do in my dreams when I open up this suitcase, and, yet, here I am with it open anyway.
I can feel the tears sting the back of my eyes, but I keep them inside. I'm just glad that my new roommate isn't in here right now. I don't know what I'd do if he were.
And all the memories come rushing back—not just the good ones like when I remember on purpose, but the bad ones, too. Not just the happy, fun times, but the times where we cried and were hurt and pained. And I can't control it one damn bit.
It's a kind of funny thought, though. When you're in pain or afraid of what's happened, you either focus on it completely or never think about it at all. Well, that's what I consider most. I tend to do the latter. I never really thought about it before, though.
When I focused on the past before, I was thinking about all the good things and all the wonderful memories that came with it, even though I was utterly depressed at the same time. I was thinking about Dead Poets Society and how much Mr. Keating taught us. I thought about Knox and Chris at the play. I thought about yawping when Neil took his bow. I thought about playing my saxophone and chasing Neil and Todd and Cameron around the bedroom. I thought about the phone call from God. And I always laughed at the memories or smiled, and I was content.
I never thought about what would happen to me afterwards. I never thought about the gun. I never thought about the funeral, even when I was at the funeral. After he died, I tried to never think about it. I tried to ignore that it all happened. I tried to put it behind me and forget it ever happened. Because it's always seemed that, if I can put something behind me, it's like it never happened and that erases the pain.
But I can't just forget it. Not this time, at least. I can't only look back as if he's still alive. When people ask me why I'm not still at Welton, I can't just say, "I got expelled," and offer no explanation. People deserve an explanation, even if it hurts and even if it's really none of their damn business. And I can't not cry.
Sure, I cried when I first heard and when I had to tell Todd and the others. Neil was my best friend. But Neil was the kind of person that was everyone's best friend. So of course I cried. We all cried.
After that, though, nothing was the same. It's not like I expected it to be, but the fact that I knew it wouldn't be the same wasn't any help at all. Our little perfect world was over. All right, so it hadn't really been perfect, but it was just the seven of us and we were happy… generally speaking. But now everything's messed up.
I still don't understand why he did it, though. And I guess that bugs me the most. How can anyone kill themselves? It doesn't make any sense to me. I guess I wasn't there to experience it and what it was exactly that caused it. Maybe his father said something and he just snapped and he couldn't take it anymore. I can understand that, but what could it possibly be that was so terrible he had to commit suicide to get away from it? If anything did happen between him and his father, Mr. Perry certainly wouldn't say a damn thing. And how, after all the years of knowing him and how deep his friendship was with all of us, how could he have ever left us? What could have compelled him to do that? I doubt I'll ever know.
I guess I do blame him for what happened. Not Mr. Keating like the Welton administration says we should, but Neil. I blame everything that happened afterwards on him. He was my best friend and he just left us all like we weren't important at all. I'll never understand that, and I doubt I'll be able to forgive him either.
God, I'm actually crying again. It's not like it's really a surprise. It's just that I haven't cried for seven days, and I was kind of hoping I was finished with that. But the picture I'm now holding in my hands is too much. Far too much that I tear it up like I tore up Dr. J. Evans Pritchard, PhD, four months ago, and soon I can only recognize what were once the faces of myself, Neil, and Knox as we laughed and grinned because I know that that's who's supposed to be on the ruined picture.
I suppose that I'm afraid. Afraid that, if I don't think about only my favorite parts of life and all the happiness, I'll just break down crying like a girl. And that's exactly what's happening, isn't it?
I am sobbing now, and, if somebody asked, I doubt I'd be able to explain why. It's not because Neil's dead or because I'm all alone here or because I was expelled from Welton. It's more like it's because I know I need to cry just for the sake of crying. I really don't know how else to describe it, though.
Maybe it's also because I feel guilty, though. Not guilty because I did something horrible—more like guilty because I didn't do anything at all. Could I have really done anything for Neil, though? I doubt it. I bet Mr. Keating, if he were here with me now, would say that the only person who could do something to help Neil at that time would have been Neil himself. So I shouldn't really be guilty, then, right? I guess so. It could also be guilt because I haven't spoken to any of the guys since I left. Knox and Pittsie and Meeks and Todd are probably worried, and I barely even thought about them.
I know another reason why I'm crying, though. I'm angry. I'm angry at myself for not doing anything, even when I know that I couldn't have done anything. I'm angry at Mr. Keating for getting fired. I'm angry at Cameron for being a fink. I'm angry at Mr. Perry because he shouldn't have allowed his son to be able to reach the gun and also because he shouldn't have been so hard on him all the time. But, mostly, I'm angry at Neil for leaving us and for giving up so easily. Maybe he would have been condemned to a life of horror and pain, but he didn't even stop to think about the rest of us before he pulled that trigger. And also because he never said goodbye. He left no note. No explanation. No "I'm sorry but I had to do this". No goodbye.
I look down at the shredded picture that I'm now throwing in the trash bin and I suddenly realize that I don't want to leave the others with no goodbye like Neil did. I don't want to just disappear because they might actually care. I don't want to not think about them. I don't want them to disappear from my life like he did. And, just like Neil, I have the choice between keeping in contact and leaving. I'm not going to make the same mistake he made.
And, in the lobby on the ground floor, as I dial the phone number for Welton Academy and say that I need to speak with Knox Overstreet, I know that I can't let them go. My hope returns when I hear a voice say, "Yeah, this is Knox, hello?"
I know my voice hitches as I say, "Hey, Knoxious."
"Charlie?!" he practically yells.
With the first real smile I've had in over a week, I respond, "The name's Nuwanda."
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