Everything was dark. No matter where I looked, no light could be found. Everything felt cold even my own skin felt like a soft cold shell. More than anything I felt weak, unable to escape the darkness all around me. Unable to feel more than the cold that surrounded me. Among the dark and the cold, I felt naked. I couldn’t remember what had happened. Waking up, getting dressed, saying goodbye to my family and going to school, I tried to recall what happened and how I got here but the last thing I remember was closing my locker door, then nothing but darkness.
Laying helpless in the dark was unnerving and I pulled myself up so I was sitting there with my knees up against my chest while hugging my legs. I closed my eyes to keep from crying. Maybe I’m just having a nightmare. It wasn’t much of a calming thought since I couldn’t seem to wake myself up. I tried to think of happy things, my friends and family, something, anything to try to make the darkness seem a little bit lighter. It didn’t seem to affect the darkness, but then I thought of my best friend, my heart seemed a little warmer against the cold that I felt everywhere else. I suddenly realized I was smiling a little. “Gosh” I thought, “Just thinking about him makes me smile.”
Remembering all of the good times we had together, even the fights seemed like fond memories. There was so much to recall, we grew up together, living just a few houses apart. Through the good times and the bad we had been there for each other, he…he had always been there. Learning to ride bikes and I kept falling down, he would help me up and encourage me to keep trying. When my dog died and I couldn’t stop crying, he was there to hug and comfort me. Finally getting an A on a math test, he was there to say how proud of me he was and take me out for ice cream to celebrate. He was there when I had a broken heart after my boyfriend that he never liked broke up with me last year, he brought me popcorn and video games to get my mind off things, and listened to my rant and whine but knew not to say anything negative and to just try to cheer me up. My heart began to ache as I started to miss him more and more with each moment that passed.
Suddenly I felt my right hand grow warm, as if someone was holding it. I felt my heart grow warm with the feeling. It was him, it had to be. I began to yell his name into the darkness. All sounds faded and it grew silent, not even my own screams echoed in the infinite darkness around me. I listened for a voice, a sound, anything. Then somewhere in the distance from no direction but somehow everywhere I heard his voice, like the softest whisper. I held my breath and I strained to hear with every fiber of my body. “I wish I could have been there…I wish I could have done something…anything. I wish I could have taken your place…could have saved you…” his sad voice trailed off.
“What?” I yelled, but there was no sound left but my own voice.
“Saved me?” I thought…and then it hit me like jumping into water, everything came rushing back and consumed me in its wake. My mind flooded with the screams and the loud popping bang sounds that rang out and echoed off the lockers in the hallway. I blinked and I could see everything that had happened, as it played out from my now returning memory.
I closed my locker and turned as I heard the loud sounds and the screams. As I turned I saw blood splatter the wall, I saw her fall to the ground and the people rushing past, their eyes wide with terror. There was no movement from me, I felt myself become overwhelmed with the fear and I froze. I never saw his face, just his finger pulling the trigger and the bullet that seemed to flying through the air at me in slow motion, but at the same time so fast. I felt it hit me, I felt my warm blood hit my face and my body falling to the floor, hitting the ground and yet not feeling it as my body was numb while hurting everywhere at once. I saw his shoes walk past me and heard more of what I now knew to be gunfire with each sound my body shook with terror and throbbed in pain. Then I heard yelling above the screams that had grown more distant, I heard more shots and the sound of metal hitting the same cold tile floor that I laid on.
I burst into tears, my body aching and my heart seemed to burn inside my chest.
“No!” I screamed out into the darkness.
“No!” I screamed again, “I would have rather died if you took my place.”
I began to sob harder at the thought of seeing him shot, seeing him die. I fell onto my side and curled into a ball as my body shook with the sobs and continued to cry. How much time passed, I don’t know. My tears could no longer fall and I felt my chest heave to recover from the gasping sobs that consumed me for so long until now. I laid in silence, the horror of the event still flashing in my mind. I began to wonder if I was dead, if I would be trapped in this darkness tormented by my own mind.
Then through the darkness and the cold I felt a warm spot on my forehead for a moment before it began to fade. I reached up and touched where the warmth had just been. Then I heard his voice once more, still soft but not as whispered as before. “Don’t leave me…I love you.”
I bit my lip as I felt the tears that had dried begin to pour down my face once more. I closed my eyes tight and focused with all my might, I focused on the desire in my heart and soul to see him, to make more memories, to see my family and to live. The cold seemed to slowly fade and distant sounds appeared and grew closer until I could hear the steady “beep” of a heart monitor and could feel his hand in mine. I squeezed his hand gently and heard him gasp in surprise, but he didn’t pull away.
I slowly opened my eyes and looked over at him. Tears clung to his cheeks and his face full of worry.
“You did save me.” I managed to whisper. Fresh tears began to stream from his eyes.
He opened his mouth slightly as if to speak and closed it again.
“I love you too.” I said with a soft smile.
His eyes lit up and a soft smile spread across his face as he wiped his tears with one hand, still holding mine in the other. Then he leaned forward and kissed my cheek, “I’ve always loved you.” He whispered in my ear. Then we both sat there smiling with tears in our eyes as my parents came rushing into the room.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
When the world turns dark,
there is always someone who can make it bright again,
even when it seems like you’re trapped in darkness,
let your soul help to light the way,
so you may find those who can make it brighter.