He fiddled with his hat. "Boys, Alaska Young was killed last night in a car crash".
It takes a moment to sink it. Because she wasn't dead. She couldn't be. She'd jump out from behind the door screaming "gotcha" and joke about how she was still the queen of pranks and we'd never hear the end of it.
Only she didn't. No one moved and there was the type of silence you can feel in the air, weighing down on you.
And then I'm drowning. Sinking deeper and deeper until I can hear my eardrums popping and my chest getting tighter. Boom, boom, boom go my ears. Thump, thump, thump goes my heart. Forever passes until I can feel my feet planted firmly on the ground below.
The next day feels like a dream. Floating out of my bed. Floating into class. Floating around the halls. Everyday after has felt like a dream. In a way, we're still waiting to wake up from the nightmare of her death.
Maybe I never really knew who she was. Maybe I never will. The problem with people is that they are just that - people. We see people for who we want them to be. Maybe we can't even see who we are because we're desperately trying to be something else. I don't know if she thought she needed fixing. She didn't. No one does. No one needs fixing because no one can be irrevocably broken.
I can't picture her laying stiff in a box underground. I can't picture her body turning to bone, her bone turning to dust. When I close my eyes all I can see is Alaska. Soaring through the sky like a bird. Racing through the library trying to the right book. Drinking cheap wine and telling sad stories and having fun all the while. Because to us, to the people who knew her, she's not in a box under the ground. She's not trapped in the labyrinth of suffering. She's everywhere and everything. And even in the darkest part of the darkest night I can still hear her laughing if I listen hard enough.
I don't know where she is.
But I hope it's beautiful.