“Since then, I felt off. I was broken, way beyond repair. He was gone with the wind. I just wish he could have told me. I wish I could see him, just feel his strong arms wrap around me.”
I stood near the old maple tree my family planted about five years ago in our backyard. I was 13 years old, and it was 6:00 p.m. I had been standing there for hours. I finally sat down, and let the wind blow my hair around. It had been a week since my dad died, and I still couldn’t get over the fact that he was gone. Really, truly, gone. Since then, I felt off. I was broken, way beyond repair. He was gone with the wind. I just wish he could have told me. I wish I could see him, just feel his strong arms wrap around me. I wish he was still here most of all. I truly loved him.
I soon heard my mom call out, saying “Blair! Come back in! You know I hate it when you stay up too late! Plus, your first day of 8th grade is tomorrow!” I stood there with the maple tree, touched its gnarly bark, and went back in. That night, I laid in my bed, thinking about our tree in the backyard. It was the only thing that I could truly remember him by. Before I knew it, I was fast asleep.
I woke up to sun streaming through my window and my new uniform laid neatly on my bed sheets. I groaned, and got out of bed. Just for a fact, I hate first days! My mom, she loves people being organized. Every time after summer break, she tells us to make goals for ourselves. Mine this year is to make at least one or two friends. The thing is, when you’re the new kid, you can choose who you are. For instance, you can be the doodler. The prankster. The mean girl. Or the oddball. I’m hoping I don’t have to be in that position. Everybody gives you these looks, and, well, they think you’re weird and that you aren’t good friend material and all that. So I shovel down my breakfast, brush my teeth, put on my uniform, grab my backpack, and get out the door. I walk across the street and try and think about how school will turn out. I walked along, and tried not to think about how embarrassed I could get or—and then I found myself at school.
I gulped, and walked inside. I had prepared for any possible consequences or embarrassing situations that might have occurred at school. I finally felt like I was ready. I pushed open the door, and winced. Everybody was staring at me. I felt my face go hot. I did not expect this. Guess I was the oddball.
A girl suddenly asked, “We heard the news. Your parents?”
I replied, “W-well my mom is at work and…” I trailed off.
Then she asked, “Then what about your dad? Can’t he come?”
I paused, then said, “He… he died in the army. He was at war. Can we talk about this later? I have to get to class now.”
She then said, “Uh, sure, ok, but you never told me-” I walked away before she could finish her sentence.
I heard another girl say to the girl who asked about my dad say “Hey! She’s new! You shouldn’t pressure her like that.” Then she ran up to me and said, “hey sorry about my friend, Melissa. Can I talk to you at lunch maybe?” I then turned to her, and nodded slowly. Then I went back on my way to math class. I then thought, that right then was the most awkward first day of my life.
“So that’s it for that problem. Who knows what 122 to the power of 6 divided by 3 is? Blair? Are you paying attention?” Ms. Robins asked.
“Hm?” I answered. “Oh uh, yes ma’am.”
“Good. then can you participate next time?” she said.
“Yes, I’m sorry. I’ll try next time.” I said.
“Ok, bye people!” Ms. Robins yelled, not paying any attention to me. “Hurry along to your next class or you won’t be going to class at all!”
The next few periods passed by quickly, and then it was lunch. Then I remembered how I promised that other girl I would sit with her today. I looked around, trying to find her through all the other people. When the crowd cleared up, I saw her in the corner of my eye. She was waving me over, so I decided to walk up to her table.
Once I sat down, she said, “Melissa, she thinks all the new kids are weird, because when she was the new girl, she got embarrassed. So now, well, she turned out like that.” Then she said, “I feel really bad for you, hearing how he died, in a war. It must have been unbearable.”
I then said, “it wasn’t just the war, actually. He was the one who couldn’t bear it. He-”
She then said, “I get it just… don’t say the word.” She then got up from the table and she said, “I don’t want us to miss class now. We should go.”
But before she walked away, I shouted, “Hey! Uh, I never got your name!”
“Oh!” she said, turning back to me. “The name’s Kara. can we hang out after school today?”
“Yeah, sure.” Then I smiled. She wasn’t as bad as I thought.
“So you came,” Kara said. I shrugged. What else could I do? We waited awhile in silence. Soon we had to go home. I had never known silence could say everything. That one night, I realized I had never, ever, ever, heard nothing. Absolutely, truly, nothing. It was quiet that day, and I was tired. Maybe one day it could happen again. Just one more time.
A few months later
It was Winter now, and I was going to meet up with Kara at the skating rink. I skated once, but it didn’t seem that hard. I clutched my bag with my ice skates a little harder. Yeah, it won’t be too hard, I thought.
Ok. I might have missed a little bit. Yes, I had skated once. Once as in, well, five years ago! Yep, so when I got onto the rink, my legs turned to jelly. Kara came over to me and laughed. Then she said, “Here, let me help. I can teach you. But didn’t you say-” This time I cut her off.
“Ehhhh, let’s talk about that later.” Then I started to laugh, and Kara joined me.
She let go of me and said, “Here! Try It on your own!” I tried it, then found it, well, not so freaky. I laughed, then spun around. I remembered how it was like, five years before. I remembered how free I felt. I remember I was skating with—no. I opened my eyes. I felt a wave of nausea and fear wash over me. I started spiraling out of control. I screamed.
All I remember was Kara rushing over to me, yelling, “Hang on! I’m coming!” and me falling through thin ice.
I could hear muffled voices through the water, but I could make out Kara’s voice saying into her phone, “Hello, my friend just recently-” her voice muffled through the freezing cold water. It sliced right through me. I desperately tried to take a breath, but nothing came out. I felt nauseous. Yes, I wanted there to be absolute silence again, but not this way. I could feel my chest breaking apart. Then everything went black.
I woke up in the hospital, with Kara beside me. I was going to move my arm to get in a sitting position, but a nurse next to me and said, “Don’t move just yet. We have to run a few brief tests on you first.” My chest still burned, but I stayed still after I heard that.
Some men in white coats came in and said something to the nurse. After they left, the nurse said, “You’re one of the lucky ones.”
I then asked, “What do you mean the lucky ones?”
“Well, most of the others pass away, but you, you are a strong girl. But your friend…” the nurse said. I had wondered what she meant, but before I could ask, more men in white coats came in and then I was quiet again.
After a bit, I was done with my tests, and Kara was still what seemed to be sleeping at the moment. I got up and tried to walk over to the door to ask for something to drink. I fell down the first time, but then got to my feet, sort of waddled around the place, and then I waddled to the door. I was going to open the door when I stopped. There were people talking right outside my door. I stood there, trying to listen in on their conversation. I could hear two voices that I thought I knew. One belonged to the nurse, and one was my mom’s! I was overjoyed. I wondered If she came to visit me!
I was going to open the door when I heard the nurse say something. “Your, your daughter. While she was ice skating with her friend, she fell into freezing cold water that was about 70 degrees fahrenheit. Her breathing was indiscernible, but she’s ok now, but her friend, after she called 911 and they hadn’t come yet, she jumped in too. They came soon after that, and hauled her out before things got worse. Now, her friend is in a coma.” That was when I realized she hadn’t been sleeping. When we had a sleepover at my house two months ago, I woke her up just by me opening the door. She was never such a deep sleeper. I fell to the ground and started to cry. I was bawling like a two year old.
The nurse then said to my mom, “Sorry, give me a second.” she then rushed into the room and said, “Blair! Blair, honey, what happened?”
I then answered, trying not to cry, “No. You don’t have to lie anymore. I know the truth. The real truth.” Well, I had learned. Even if you weren’t superstitious, thirteen was still an unlucky number.
After that, I just blurted out the rest to her, not thinking about it at the time. I went on and on about it, even the parts with my dad. Then, the nurse told me a bit about herself too. Her name was Parker Thworp, and she grew up in Minnesota. She then told me that my friend ( “Kara,” I corrected. “My friend’s name is Kara.” “Ok then, Kara” she said), she was in a coma (which I knew, but I didn’t want to be rude and interrupt), and that a coma can last for more than a year. More than a year?! A year seemed like a whole lifetime to me.
I then asked, “Parker, err, Ms. thworp, can I ever go visit her? Like ever?”
“Well,” Ms. Thworp responded with a hint of uncertainty in her voice. “It matters how she’s feeling. Maybe, If everything goes well.”
Well. I think hate is a strong word, but I hate the word well. It was the last word my dad said to me before he went off to war. I still remember his exact words. “Everything will go well, my dear Blair. Just remember, I will always be in your heart no matter where I go, no matter what happens.”
So far, it’s been at least a year, and I have gotten out of the hospital. I sighed, then stared at the blank paper in front of me. Nothing had been going on since Kara had gone. I still visited her, but mostly I wrote to her. I couldn’t bear looking at her, so pale and thin. She looked like a ghost of her former self. I decided to leave the note paper there, and stayed there for the moment instead. It’s like I’ve been sending the notes for nothing. She was like Sleeping Beauty, but without the prince who heroically saves her by kissing her. It was not such a happily ever after at all, really. Another year without you has passed, and I can’t imagine another one like this.
A few days later, my mom got a phone call. I thought it was something about work for my mom, but then she said, “Blair? Yes she’s here. Why?” She then waited while the person at the other end of the line spoke.
Then she said, “Blair, hon, somebody wants to talk to you, this lady from the hospital.” I gasp, then grab it from my mom.
“Ms. Thworp? Is that you?”
I heard a few shuffling noises, then a female voice answered, “Hi, Blair! About Kara-”
Then I said, “Oh, no.”
Then she quickly responded, “No! It-it’s not bad at all! It’s exactly the opposite! She’s coming out of her coma!”
I then quickly, almost yelling, said, “Oh my gosh! Thanks! Bye!” I then hung up, gave the phone back to my mom, then said, “Bye! I need to do something right now! Love you!” Then I slammed the door.
When I got to the hospital, I was out of breath, but I kept running. I ran all the way to where Kara’s room was, but before I could run to the door, more men in white suits came and one said, “Sorry, no visitors. We can’t risk-”
I shoved past them and ran into Kara’s room. I knelt near her bed and held one of her hands. I fished around in my pocket and then plucked out a bracelet. A friendship bracelet. I was hoping to give it to her when we were done ice skating, but, well, you know what happened. I slipped on her bracelet, and rolled up my sleeve to reveal one exactly the same.
I felt Kara’s hand tighten over mine, and then she whispered, “B-Blair?”
“Kara!” I yelled.
Kara suddenly sat up, as if snapping out of some sort of spell. She then hugged me tight.
“I shouldn’t have let you go that day on the rink,” Kara said. “Look at me now, sitting in a hospital bed. That day-”
I then said, “No. That day we both messed up. It wasn’t just your fault, or just my fault. We’re in the same boat right now. Just hang on.”
I stood near the old maple tree my family planted six years ago. But this time, I wasn’t alone. We sat down in the grass, wet with dew that sparkled in the light, and Kara whispered something in my ear. something I can’t be sure if you won’t tell anyone, or if you will.
She whispered, “I couldn’t live a year without you.”