One Word (Goodbye)

Reads: 497  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 2

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

I can’t stop the tears. Every time I look at that picture, it reminds me of her and the day that she died. Everything reminded me of her and that day. I blink rapidly and sigh out my heart.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

But there is no comfort for me here. It only took one word to change everything. One word to bring me to this desolation.

Goodbye.

One Word

 

 

I lie here alone, staring at the rain that falls incessantly outside.  I hear the sounds of the raindrops pattering on the roof and windows, the faint hum of emo rock on the stereo, and the constant tick-tock of the clock on the wall behind me.  It’s like a deathwatch in my bedroom.

I glance at my desk in the corner.  It’s covered in artwork, old homework papers, and other stuff.  You can barely see my laptop.  I also have a large bookshelf, which shows off my huge collection of books.  Fantasy and science fiction, classics and poetry—everything I love.  But none of that seems to matter now.  Nothing.  Not my books, not the college acceptance papers, not my art supplies, not my binders full of things I wrote.  Poetry, stories, song lyrics, letters.  Most of them were for her, and she never got to see them.  It’s unbearably depressing to know that she will never, ever see them.

Then there is my bed.  Queen-sized and covered with disheveled blue bedding in a similar color to my curtains.  It hasn’t been properly made since…

That’s where I am now.  Lying in the half darkness, so alone, distraught.  I lie there, silent against my pillows.  In my right hand is my rosary; in my left, my favorite photo of her and me.  For over a week I have been praying to God that he would bring her back to me, even though I know that would never happen.  Even so, the hope comforts me.  It’s all I have.  I loved her.  I still love her.  I miss her.

I stare at the photograph, in its tiny frame.  The photo was taken about a month before our high school graduation.  I was smiling in the picture, as I usually did when I was with her.  She had her arms around me, her golden hair flying about in the wind.  Compared to dark-haired, dark-eyed me, she looked like an angel with her warm skin and emerald green eyes.  Like a dream.

I can’t stop the tears.  Every time I look at that picture, it reminds me of her and the day that she died.  Everything reminded me of her and that day.  I blink rapidly and sigh out my heart.  Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

But there is no comfort for me here.  It only took one word to change everything.  One word to bring me to this desolation.

Goodbye.

 

~*~

 

I woke up on May 27th, at 7:10 a.m. as usual.  For a moment I just stared at the ceiling, thinking of the dream that I had.  Something about getting tickets to a Fall Out Boy concert on Facebook and…ice cream.  I couldn’t remember all the details.  Then I remembered that today was Graduation Day.  Words couldn’t describe the feeling of ecstasy that rose into my chest as I nearly leaped out of bed.  I did it.  I survived thirteen whole years of Saint Catherine of Siena Academy.  K-12, baby.

I practically danced into the shower, humming random snippets of very random songs.  Some of them rather irrelevant, but nonetheless fun to hum. 

I sprayed on Axe, ran some gel through my thick black curls, shoved my nerdy-chic glasses on, and winked at myself in the mirror.  I was perfectly aware that I was being cocky and ridiculous.  For today, that was A-OK.

I wore a grin wider than my head as I yanked on underwear, my khakis, and white dress shirt.  This was the last time I would have to put on my uniform.  Ever.  I snorted with laughter and slung the navy blazer over my shoulder, grabbing my tie and messenger bag on the way out of my room.

I was whistling as I clambered down the stairs; Mom called me before I reached the last step.

“Rias!  You got ten minutes!  Don’t be late on your last day of school!”  She paused to say something to my sister Jennifer, who sounded irritable as usual.  I’m the fifth youngest of ten children, stuck somewhere in the middle.  Four underneath me, five above.  People say that Jenny and I have our mother’s face.  I disagree.  “Are you driving the van?  Or your car?”  Mom shouted.

I emerged from the staircase, knotting my tie.  “Do you want me to drive them to school?”  I said, cocking my head in my younger brother Elias’ direction.  He’s a sophomore.  Yeah, Zacharias and Elias.  My two younger brothers (twins) are Tobias and Jeremias.  Funny, huh?  My older brothers all have names that end with –ias too.  We got the whole Old Testament going on here.

“That would be great, honey, would you do that for me?”  Mom said.  I pursed my lips and pretended to think.  She slapped me with a kitchen towel, and I yelped.

“Yes, mother.”  I said, sarcastically.  She shook her head and stood on her toes to reach my six-foot height.  She hugged me tightly and kissed my cheek.

“My son.  Graduating from high school.  A young man.  I’m so proud of y—“  she began, but I backed away.

“Hey, mom, don’t cry until the ceremony, okay?”  I said, half-jokingly.  She raised her hand to slap me with the towel again, but I rushed out the door before she had a chance to swipe my backside.

I loaded Eli, Jenny, Toby, and Jerry into the car.  I have nicknames for each of my brothers and sisters.  My favorite was for my first older sister, Elliana.  While most of my family calls her Ella, I call her Smella.

It was a short, ten-minute drive to school.  I had done this so many times that it felt like second nature to me.  In the van my brothers and sister continuously talked and argued, while I was too absorbed in my own personal thoughts to hear.  One hand on the wheel, the other hanging out the window.  Paramore’s The Only Exception streamed from the radio, and I subconsciously tried to remember that dream I had last night.  The other half of my brain was working double overtime thinking of how beautiful Camellia was and wondering how I did on my finals and what my final GPA was and what expression I was gonna make when Father Cohen finally hands me that diploma.

 

~*~

 

At school, my fellow seniors and I had decided to get together in the gym for some casual reminiscing (while the lower grades still have classes until June—suckas!) before tonight—the last time we would be in this school together as students.  We still had to do a run-through of the graduation ceremony with the whole school body at 10:30.  We weren’t looking forward to that, but it was necessary to make sure that nothing embarrassing happened at the real thing.

 I stood in front of my lockers (small private school=fewer students=two lockers for each student), dumping their contents into a cardboard box.  I almost threw away my salutatorian speech thinking it was a returned paper.  I took that out of the trash bag and un-crumpled it.  It was a fairly good speech, perfectly accented by my clever humor and smart-ass linguistics.  Lia’s was no doubt better, however.  She had already finished her valedictorian speech weeks ago.  Apparently everyone knew she was going to be valedictorian.  I smiled at that.  My girlfriend was terribly intelligent.  Not to mention so beautiful that it practically hurt to think about.  I slammed the empty lockers shut and headed for the gym.

There were seven of us seniors.  I know, not a very impressive number—but hey, it’s a lucky number, plus, ours was the biggest graduating class the Academy had ever had.  You can imagine we’ve grown pretty close; we’re all good friends.

I arrived in the gym first, or at least I thought I did until I saw Lia sitting on the bleachers, reading a book as usual.  She was so engrossed in her reading that I was able to step behind her and tug on her brown-blond ponytail.  At first she just ignored me, until I pulled harder.

“Rias!  Knock it off!”  she laughed, closing her book with a thud.  I laughed as she adjusted her ponytail, and then I heard the gym door open with Mary Evangeline’s loud voice.  I braced myself for a bear hug from my cousin.

“Rias!  My favorite cousin!”  Her booming voice reverberated throughout the entire gym.  I sighed to myself.  Blond moment number five-thousand-something for Mary Evangeline.  How can a brunette be so blond?

“You said—quite adamantly, might I add—that Margaret was your favorite cousin.  If my memory so serves me correctly.”  I said.  Lia smiled and glanced knowingly at her best friend.

“Oh, shut up.”  Mary said, slapping my shoulder.  “Fine, my second-favorite cousin.  There.”

Sebastian and Seth came up behind us.  Sebastian put his arm around Mary (which I thought was kind of awkward, considering that he was her ex-boyfriend) and the other around Lia.  Seth enters our circle with his hands in his pockets.

“So you have two girlfriends now, Ian?”  I said, glaring at him.  He just wrinkled his nose at me.

“Jealous.”  he said.  Seth and Mary laughed, but Lia just smiled at me and rolled her eyes.

Ian looked around me.  “But where’s my third?  Where’s Liz?  She wasn’t at prayers.”  I looked past him through the gym door windows, and saw Elizabeth emerge from the girls’ bathroom.  She spotted us and came in.

“Bad hair day.”  she said, straightening her headband.

“So you missed prayers on your last day of school?  You’re so unholy.”  joked Mary.  Liz stuck out her tongue.

“I am holy.  I went to the 7:00 a.m. Mass yesterday and prayed two rosaries.”  she said proudly, although we all knew she was lying.

“Naughty girl.”  said Lia, “You shouldn’t fib.”

She pouted melodramatically.  “Well, I did go to the early Mass.”

I huddled all of us together with my long arms.  “This is it you guys.  We’re finally graduating.”

“Woot.”  said Ian and Seth at the same time.

“Well, let’s do this thing!”  I shouted in my loudest possible voice.  I began to march around my friends like the total retard that I was.  The girls and Seth laughed hard.

“You’re such a dork.”  said Mary.

“Charge!”  said Lia emphatically, thrusting her fist into the air.

“Quit your strutting, Rias,” said Ian, frowning, “We don’t want no High School Musical here.”

 

~*~

 

“Remember last year when Mr. Salette was trying to reinforce segregation?”  said Ian, leaning casually against the bleachers.  “He practically barked ‘SEGREGATED RECESS!!!’ at a group of guys and girls.  Pat’s face was priceless, and Eli nearly jumped out of his pants.  Tina looked like she wanted to punch him.”

We all laughed.  “I remember that.”  said Lia, “Mary and I were in that group.  She and I ran into the girl’s bathroom and laughed our heads off.”  she paused for a moment, “I miss Tina.  She’s graduating this year too.”

I tapped a pen against my lip, thinking, and then I pointed the pen at Ian.  “It was funnier when you were closing the clasp on Lia’s necklace in the concession room and Mr. Salette thought you were massaging her.”Ian nearly snorted with laughter, which is unusual for him.  Lia flushed a bit but laughed with him.

“That’s just…wrong.”  she said.  Mary frowned.

“I never heard about this!”  she exclaimed.  Liz patted her shoulder.

“There’s probably many things you haven’t heard about, Mary Evangeline.”

Mary glared at her.  “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“What’s hilarious is that the whole segregation thing was really tight in the beginning of the school year, then as the year progressed, it started to dissipate.  The teachers really didn’t care anymore.”  I said, scribbling random words down on a scrap of paper.

“They finally realized that they can’t really stop it, and they can’t be monitoring us every a second.  Besides, we’ve been good, they probably realized that we’re all Catholic kids and we’re not gonna do anything stupid.”  said Seth, rolling his eyes.

You’ve been good, maybe.”  said Ian, smirking wickedly.  Mary gaped at him.

“You know what, subject change!”  she pointed a clear-polished (the only ‘color’ the school uniform policy allows) fingernail at him, “You should go to confession just for making that face.”  Ian shrugged as Liz laughed softly.

“Ah…so many memories.  It would take us forever to think of them all.”  remarked Lia.

“Especially considering that Liz, Gabe, and I have been here since kindergarten…hey, where is Gabe?”  I said, looking around.

“That jerk; playing hooky on the last day of school.”  said Mary, shaking her head.  “We probably won’t see him until tonight.”

“They’re gonna throw away everything in his lockers if he doesn’t empty them.”  added Seth.

“So,”  said Liz, “Are you and Lia going to get married this summer, hmm?”

Lia and I burst out laughing.

“Well, uh, maybe not this summer.”  I said.  Lia nodded in agreement.  “After college, definitely...”  I leaned over so Lia and I were nose-to-nose.  I could sense Ian’s smirk behind me, as well as Mary’s fondness, Seth’s obliviousness, Gabriel’s absence, and Elizabeth’s slight hint of jealousy and regret that she had asked the question.

But I ignored them.

I kissed Lia softly.  For the last time.

 

~*~

 

The rest of that day happened so quickly that I hardly remember it.  If I think hard I can recall bits and pieces of the graduation ceremony and the after-party, like a soundless, black-and-white police demonstration of a crime.  But what happened after our graduation just drowns it all out.

I remember it.  Painfully, I remember it.  I remember sitting on the couch at home, 10:15 p.m.  I was still dressed in my cap and gown.  The Saint Catherine of Siena diploma sat on the coffee table in front of me.  I was caught in a reverie of studying history at University of Dallas until I felt my cell phone buzz in the pocket of my slacks.

I took it out.  It was a text from Lia.  Smiling, I opened it.

thisis not a joke zachharias im dying goodby Iloveyou yousomuchiluvu

What?  I didn’t quite get it, so I read it again.

This is not a joke.

Rias, I’m dying.

Goodbye.

I love you.

Goodbye. 

I was still confused (and a little worried), so I sent a reply.  No answer.  Ten minutes later, I got a call from Lia’s mother telling me that Lia had died in a car accident while driving home from the graduation ceremony.  Some bastard’s car had slammed into the side of Lia’s, crushing her.  The police had found her cell phone still gripped in her hand. 

I cried so hard that my mom wouldn’t let me go to the funeral the next day.  So I’ve been locked up in my room ever since.  I don’t sleep much.  I eat even less.

 

~*~

 

I take out my phone.  I still have that text message.

And I always will until I can get myself to let go and just say it.

 

~*~

 

Message deleted.  Anger.  Grief.  Agony.  I grip the crucifix of my rosary tight and press it to my lips.

 

~*~

Goodbye, Lia.

 


Submitted: August 18, 2011

© Copyright 2022 AMarie511. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

r00kie101

I like your story, very sad, but powerful indeed.

Thu, August 18th, 2011 3:00pm

Author
Reply

Thank you very much (:

Thu, August 18th, 2011 3:32pm

Facebook Comments

More Young Adult Short Stories

Other Content by AMarie511

Short Story / Young Adult

Book / Young Adult