Why can't people be erased from your memory when they die? Why can't every little trace of them somehow go away, just disappear into the air, where you never have to look at it, or think of it again?
I found out the meaning of death when I was a small child. My cousin and uncle died within a two year time span before I was seven years old. I knew the technicality of it. The person's body had shut down, their heart wouldn't beat again, they'd never take another breath, they'd never speak another word. Their soul had separated permanently from their physical body. Everything they had done in their life was final, the last chapter of their life had been written. But I never truly understood the concept. I had never met either of them for any amount of time significant enough to really form a connection with them.
When I heard the words, "Jordan is dead," I felt something die within me. I didn't feel like I was with me anymore. It's gotten worse since. Every day, that part of me that is no longer living grows. It's like a disease, but there's no medication for it, no treatment, no hope for recovery. I couldn't even escape it in my sleep.
It was three in the morning, and my mother was sitting beside me. I was crying in my sleep again, loud enough to wake her. I saw Jordan in my dream again. There would always be that one moment that I thought he was actually still here, then he would disappear when I called his name, and even my unconscious state of mind would realize that he wasn't here anymore, because reality reminded me that he couldn't be there, because he was gone.
"It's okay," My mother was whispering softly. She said it as if it would actually make things okay if she said it enough.
"I want Jordan back," I cried into my pillow, begging it for mercy as if it had some kind of power to do something about this, "I want Jordan back, I miss him."
My mother had tears in her eyes because she felt powerless and didn't know what to do. She gently ran her fingers through my hair. "I know you do, honey."
Today was the first day of school since Jordan had left this world. I don't know how I finally managed to pull myself out of bed. I don't know how I got dressed and got ready for school. I numbly went through the motions. I almost left all of my supplies at home. None of it mattered to me. Nothing mattered. I didn't want to deal with anyone today. I couldn't stand seeing my little sister running around, laughing and giggling, so happy. She had no idea what happened, or maybe she did. Either way, she was just fine.
"Mommy, guess what?" Her high annoying little voice caused my ears pain.
"What is it, sweetie?" She asked with interest.
"We're going to have a party at school today! The teacher is bringing food and drinks and candy and movies..." My mind trailed off. I didn't care about Danielle's party and her candy and her movies. To hell with her candy and movies, to hell with all the candy and movies that ever existed.
"That's wonderful." She turned her attention to me. "What about you, Angela? What're you doing at school today?"
I shrugged. "Nothing I care about," I replied as I stood up after having eaten two bites of cereal. I decided that was enough. I'd sustain life with it. "I'm going to school now." I saw parents give each other a worried glance. I didn't see why they were so worked up. They were acting like I was threatening suicide or something.
I don't remember walking to school that morning. I just did, somehow. I didn't see, hear, feel anything. All of my senses were inactive.
When I walked into the building, I was greeted by Sharon running up to me, throwing her arms around me. "Oh, sweetie, I heard what happened, I am so sorry!" She acted as if we had been best friends all along as if she hadn't refused to even look at me last year, and when she did it turned into a screaming match.
"It's fine." I didn't know what to do. I really didn't want to talk to her. I didn't want to see her huge, forced displays of sympathy, making a big spectacle so that everyone could see what a model citizen she was.
When Sharon finally left me alone, I heard her talking to some clone of hers about Jordan. I heard her say, "I knew him well, we were such good friends."
Are you kidding me, I thought. I don't think you and Jordan ever had a single conversation, and now you're seriously going to sit there and pretend he was your best friend, exploiting his death for your own personal gain so that you can be the center of attention, because God forbid if you're not.
I don't know why, but I found myself walking to the first classroom I was ever in at high school during my freshman year. It's only been two years, but it feels like it's been so much longer, like ten consecutive lifetimes. I felt the memories all hitting me at once.
It was the first day of my freshman year. I heard someone walk in at the last second before the tardy bell. I looked up to see the most beautiful face I had ever seen in my life. I had never seen such blue eyes, hair that fell so perfectly into place. I didn't care that I was staring. When he sat in the only seat still available, right next to me, my heart stopped. I had never felt such a strong emotion so fast. It took a moment to realize his ethereal eyes were looking at me. I kicked myself mentally. I had been caught blatantly staring by the subject of my staring.
"Hi." My voice sounded so high and choked. I sounded so awkward. I hated that. I couldn't not be awkward even in times when I desperately needed to.
"Hey," He talked so perfectly, and it was so effortless. He just said words and they came out perfect, like he didn't even have to try to be as overwhelmingly intriguing it was. That's the Jordan always was, so effortlessly beautiful and mystifying, while I stood clumsily fumbling through life.
"What's your name?" I stuttered out, having to restart my words multiple times. I couldn't believe I was managing to look like such an idiot in front of this beautiful person.
Jordan. I said that a few times in my mind. It seemed perfect for him.
"It suits you." Wait, what, did I really just say that? How could I have just said that? Why couldn't I string just one sentence together without making a fool of myself?
It wasn't much of an earth-shattering exchange of dialogue, but it was the first time I ever saw my Jordan, talked to him. It was the first day of a whole chapter of my life.
I was snapped back into the present by an unfamiliar female voice. "Can I help you?"
I turned around to see a woman who looked to be about in her mid twenties to early thirties I had never seen before. This class had gotten a new teacher from when I was in it. I wasn't surprised. Our sweet old teacher had been getting on in years, and said she was going to retire soon. A lot had changed. All of the bright, fun-spirited posters had been taken down, the once bright green walls had been painted white. All the desks were facing the same way to make it feel like some kind of a prison. And yet, there was something about it that was the same. It was like Jordan was still here, like he was everywhere I went. It was almost like I could see him.
"No one can help."
She raised an eyebrow that had been trimmed to the point where there was almost nothing there. "Is there an issue you need to discuss?" What did she think she was, a therapist?
I shook my head. "There's nothing you can do. Once they're gone, they're gone." I said simply and walked out the door.
I spent the rest of the day in my own little world, away from everyone here. I had no desire to be with anyone. Nobody I could actually be with anyways. My friends Rayenne and Rickie couldn't seem to understand that, who were running up to me at the moment, smiling, making jokes, acting as if nothing happened. Did they not know?
Both of them were bugging me to hang out with them tonight. I didn't know how to get it through to them that I really didn't want to.
"Come on," Rickie protested, "I think some getting out will do you good."
"Look, guys, I'd love to, I really would, but I can't. I-"
Rayenne cut me off. "Might I ask why?"
I was starting to become annoyed. "I have homework, you two ever heard of it?" It came out a lot more rudely than I had intended.
"Well, someone's catty," She mumbled. I felt a pang of guilt now. I didn't mean to snap at them.
"I'm sorry, guys, I just... I just can't. Not tonight."
There was a long silence before I heard a quiet, "Fine."
I think the person I least wanted to talk to in the world was Brian Krakow, who was just the person walking in my direction at this very moment as I was trying to get my things out of my locker. I tried to be as unnoticeable as I could. Maybe I should fake a hearing disability right now so I can get away.
"Hi, Angela." He said, standing uncomfortably close to me. I backed away from him.
"Hey," I replied as curtly as I could.
"Look, I just..." He was doing that stupid stammering thing he always does when he's not talking about something academic, but has to actually have a social conversation with another person.
"Spit it out, Brian, I'm on a time schedule." I wasn't. I just wanted to get away from him.
"I just wanted to say I'm sorry to hear about... well, you know what happened."
"No, Brian, I forgot my boyfriend died." I slammed my locker door shut. Brian looked at me with annoyance, and I knew it was coming. I swear, it only takes two seconds before he's blowing up, throwing a fit like a three year old, spouting out his anger at anyone who dares to have the audacity to be in his general location.
"I'm just trying to be considerate, you don't have to completely blow off my existence every second of your life!"
"I'm not blowing off your existence," you crying, screaming little drama queen.
I began walking down the hallway away from him swiftly. Of course, he followed me, all the while doing his little walking all over the place, right on your heels so that you have no personal space thing.
"Then what? What is it, Angela?"
"I just find it a little ironic. You made it clear to everyone that you hated Jordan, in case they had any doubts about it. And now you're telling me how sorry you are that he's dead? I figured you'd be celebrating."
I didn't hear any more footsteps behind me. He finally figured it out that he wasn't going to get his way. "Whatever, Angela."
I had never been so glad for one day to end. I didn't stick around for my parents to interrogate me about what I did today when I got home. When I got to my bedroom, I fully realized that this was my life from now on, my daily routine. Smile, "I'm doing great, how are you," smile again, all day now, go home, toss the smile on the floor beside your bags, let the tears fall where no one can see. Repeat every day of your life.
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