I know everyone said that Moritz got in the way of a hunter in the woods, and that was how he died. I heard everyone talking, and I remember my parents' cruel words: Oh, he was always such a foolish boy. Honestly- it's very sad of course, but maybe the school was better off without him.
Maybe that was the truth, that he did get in the way of a hunter. But I don't believe it. He was too clever for something like that- it's just too simple and excuse.
Moritz wasn't foolish- I've looked him in the eyes, and I saw something familiar there. He was suffering, just like me. He was hiding something from the world, trying to look normal. I do that every day. No, Moritz wasn't foolish- Moritz was hurt.
I thought we knew each other- I thought we were going through something together, in a kind of silent pact. All the girls at school talked about Melchi Gabor like he's so perfect- but no, Melchi as always just too perfect for me. Moritz and I- well, I used to look at him and think that if he could make it through another day, then I could, too.
But I guess he couldn't. It just seems like such a waste.
It was the day after his funeral, and I took a walk back to his grave. It's more peaceful now that everyone's gone, and the mourners have long since trickled back into their homes, back into their lives. They could go back to pretending that a teenager did not just die, and they could go one telling everyone it was a terrible accident. It wasn't an accident, I know: it was a tragedy that was brought on by the very people who were pretending he didn't commit suicide.
I lay some flowers by his grave.
"Why did you have to do that, Moritz?" My voice sounds loud in the empty graveyard, the cold air biting- painful, but not nearly as crushing as the pain inside of me. "Moritz- I've thought about doing that before, too. It seems so easy- just one click of your finger and everything is gone- the pain, the suffering, everything. But it's such a waste. I know people are cruel- but couldn't you be stronger than then? You just gave in. Why did you give up? I'm getting through, Moritz... why couldn't you?"
A word had never passed between us, it was true. I'd only met his eyes a few times, but still I had understood his pain. No one would call us friends- yet I still feel the strong sense of betrayal. Sometimes, when the pain in my heart was too much, I would use my mind to escape. I'd imagine that I was brave enough to run away and never come back, and that somehow no one would find me. Now I realize Moritz had been with me in those fantasies, simply because I knew I couldn't escape without taking him with me. If I got away, I would make sure he was safe, too. I guess he didn't feel that way. Well, I suppose everyone has to be selfish sometimes.
"Moritz, if you were here right now, I don't know if I could be your friend. I don't know if I could forgive you for doing this to yourself. But, you know, I would have been your friend before. If you had wanted. Maybe we could have gotten away, not let them hurt us. I wish I had the courage to be your friend... I was too scared to talk to you. Would it have helped? Would you not have done this?" I rested my fingers on his name, carved into the cold gravestone. "But you're not here, so I'm going to have to do it myself. But I will- I'm going to be strong. I won't give up, and I'll make it out. Maybe you were hurting more than me, but I know you could have made it, if you'd wanted to."
But he hadn't been strong enough.
"I'll be strong enough, Moritz. I'm going to live."
I stood up and carefully brushed the dirt from my knees, nodding my head towards his gravestone. "By the way, I'm Martha. I don't know if you knew that. You didn't really know me, but I felt like I knew you."
The world around me was quiet when I turned to go home. To go back into my living hell- but now I had promised to make it out. "If both of us couldn't make it through, then I'm glad you found a way to escape. Goodbye, Moritz."
I turned and left the cemetery, and it wasn't long before I reached home again. A sense of betrayal still lingered in my heart, but it was filled with a sense of obligation now that eclipsed the other feelings.
You have to make it through, Martha, I hear in my head. You owe it to Moritz... you owe it to yourself.
With a nod, I walked on.
I will live. I will be strong.