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He picked me up and answered lazily, but after a few words from the other end, I could feel his facial muscles harden with worry. He barked a quick,
and slammed me back on to my cradle.
He was resting peacefully on me until the phone rang. After a few seconds, his back stiffened, and his legs slammed down my ottoman as he sat up straight.
“Mmhm. Yes. Thank you.”
and he jumped up and shoved his shoes on as he hopped out the door.
I barely had time to wake up before I was forced onto the road again. He wasn’t as calm as usual; his right foot barely left the gas pedal. I was getting too old for these sharp turns. I was terrified that we were going to end up in a ditch. He smacked the power for the radio and fumbled to change it to the news station.
“Breaking news! A commercial 747 airplane coming in from Texas has crash landed in Zuckerman field, only 30 miles away from the Kansas City Airport. We don’t have many details right now, as no authorities have arrived at the field yet, but the paramedics are on their way as we speak.”
He yelled out in exasperation; he had already been clearly upset. At this point I realized that there was less weight than usual. What -or who- was missing?
The boy! Of course! The boy! The boy! That’s right, a week ago we were on the same road, but he was driving much slower, trying to spend all the time he could with the boy before he had to depart. Before I could sort out all my thoughts, I had come to a halt and he slammed my door and ran off.
The Dirt Road:
One minute he was here, and the next minute he was gone. All I remember is the sound of his footsteps, and the impact they made, as if he was punching himself internally a million times.
“Why did I let him go? How could I let her talk me into this?”
A Nearby Rock:
When I saw him, he was running. Frantic and scared, just like everyone else. I couldn’t see why he was any different at first. But something about him stood out to me. He was running the opposite way. Instead of from the wreckage, he was running to the wreckage. He was desperate, yes, but unlike everyone else, he was level-headed. He wasn’t really calm, but he was focused. By the determination blazing in his eyes, I could tell that he had a goal, and he was going to achieve it no matter what got in the way. He couldn’t waste even a nanosecond. He had to find who he was looking for.
I saw him searching, and I knew he would never find what he wanted. Most of the passengers had escaped me, but I had to keep at least one for myself! He didn’t even know I had taken him. He was asleep, the poor child. He was so tiny and alone, no one was there to make sure he was safe. he probably thought he was dreaming, that he was back home in bed with too many blankets and a fever. Uncomfortable, but safe, because his daddy was there to watch him. But his daddy wasn’t there. No one was there for him. I took him before he even realized what was happening.
That’s when he came, just a bigger version of the boy, I decided to be nice and make a clear path to the thing he feared most. Oh, did I say nice? Oops. He couldn’t have possibly thought that his boy, his slow, retarded son could make it out alone. Fathers... They have so much to learn. As he approached the small body, he did not fall to his knees in anguish, nor did he stare until I melted his flesh. He was calm and collected, almost as if he was prepared for this moment, but his uneven breathing told me otherwise. He slid his arms under the boy’s back and knees and carried him out of my grasp. I let them go. I had done my job. I didn’t have his tangible body, but I had taken his short, pathetic life. The man wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.
When I saw him, there was not one but two; he carried a young lifeless body that I already knew was damaged beyond repair. But he was determined to fix him, he physically couldn’t admit that he was gone. There was no saving him. He was too small, too slow, and you could tell just by looking at him that he was probably just as fragile when he was alive. But the man wouldn’t give up. He kept insisting that there was a way, but inside, I think he knew there wasn’t. He was worse than everyone else now, his eyes were streaming with tears that he was oblivious to. People tried to calm him down, but he would just start up again. Finally, they gave up. Then he gave up. He dropped to the ground and whispered,
“Please. He’s all I have left.”
“I’m sorry sir, there’s nothing we can do. He’s gone. Will you come with me? Let us escort you to the hospital.”
The man made no sound for a while. He just sat there and shook his head.
“No. No, that will not be necessary.”
I could tell from the quiver in his voice that it was necessary, that he should go to the hospital, but there was nothing I could do about it. I rolled away from the scene, his lonesome figure reflecting in my window. He just sat there. He physically could not admit that the only light in his life was gone. He could not bear to move from the place that took him.
I rarely ever get visitors at such a late hour. The occasional homeless person, a few stray cats, perhaps, but not much else. I barely noticed him, he was so quiet. I had seen his type before. The broken hearted kind, whose hollow bodies rage with internal fire. His eyes were dry but red ringed, and half of his face was cloaked with the shadows of sorrow. He wore no coat, he had no need for one anymore, as there wasn’t an ounce of warmth, an ounce of life worth living left in his body. He was so sure. He had to be. He could not have doubts, he could not question his actions. He was sure. There would be no talking him out of it, there would be no persuading him to come down. He had no need for distractions to calm his nerves. He had no nerves. He had no feelings anymore. No positive feelings, at least. There was no good left in his world, so why stay in it? I didn’t know why he was here. I didn’t know his story, I just knew that he had to escape, he had to escape everything. This is what he wanted, so who was I to stop him? Yes, I helped him. I helped him because it felt like the right thing to do. So off he went, tumbling down, eyes shut, enjoying every bit of death.