To Understand You

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is an original composition I wrote fro English class.
It's about learning to understand before judging, or better yet, not judging at all.

Submitted: June 15, 2010

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Submitted: June 15, 2010

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People say that stories are just stories, and that real life isn’t anything like them. However, I think it’s rather funny how similar life can be to stories. Take for instance, Shakespeare, when something good happens the weather is bright and sunny, but when something bad happens, generally it’s cloudy, raining or sometimes even a huge storm…

The sun shone down, casting a glorious veil of golden heat, spread graciously over the earth; not even one cloud dared to disrupt the sun that day. The birds, poised in the breeze, drifted softly through the torridity, singing their joy in blissful praise to the sun. I sat alone by the window. I glanced across the room, you weren’t here yet so I still had time to enjoy the delightful day. Children amongst the class collaborated happily within their groups, or cliques, whatever you want to call them. I don’t care to categorize them with a title; they’re all the same to me. I didn’t belong to one; you had made sure of that. If it wasn’t bad enough that I wasn’t cool or daring or rich, you had to pick on me and add to the list of reasons to avoid befriending me. Neither of us had friends, I had hoped that would mean that we could become friends and create our own little duo, nothing high status or impressive, but it beats the loneliness. However, unfortunately for me, we weren’t on the same page. From the day I tried to befriend you, you had tormented me, day after day for three years. Oh how I hated you. My attention was drawn back to the classroom as the teacher entered, putting an abrupt end to my wandering thoughts. Her hair was held in tight ringlets that brushed her shoulders, they bounced whimsically with each step, each click of her coral flats. Her skirt rested at the waist, showering down in all its coral glory to reach just below her knees, and her blouse? It was a white button up, with a round collar, puffy short sleeves and a little coral insignia, presumably her initials.
I was about to turn round again and continue my thoughtless staring out the window, when I noticed something odd. The corners of her mouth. They pulled downward ever so slightly, and being the most cheerful teacher I’ve ever known, this was quite the anomaly. She continued to the middle of the front of the classroom and stood straight backed; shoulders squared, and cleared her throat. I sat tensed, I didn’t know why I was tensed, but I couldn’t seem to relax my muscles. The students continued their raucous tom foolery. She cleared her throat again and gave a stern eye to the class. It worked like pressing mute. She paused dramatically, her expression foretold her reluctance, but finally, she opened her mouth and from her lips the words spilled out. Clumsily they climbed up her throat, and fell with deadly precision to the floor. Their dull thuds resounded through the silence of the classroom, filling every ear with a continuous echo. Dead. Dead. Dead…
A sadistic pleasure began to taint my blood, I couldn’t contain the grin that twisted my face, or the loud bark of laughter that erupted from the despicable monster in my heart. Every eye in the room turned to me, like a physical presence they pinned me, scrutinizing my sanity. I had laughed out loud at your death. With a manic grin on my face and a twinkle in my eye, I had laughed at your death. Surely that was cause for suspicion. Even I was wondering where my sanity had gotten to. The teachers eyes bore into me, trying to understand. I don’t know what she saw, I don’t even really know what she was looking for, but I think she found it. She grimaced as though I’d lashed her. Her sorrow brimmed her eyes for just a moment before she lost control and allowed it to fly relentlessly down her cheeks, clinging to her jaw for a second and then releasing it’s sluggish hold and staining her shirt. Then she gave me detention.
I was stunned to say the least. Detention? How unfair was that! You had tormented me mercilessly for years and not once had you felt the keen sting of repercussion. However, my good mood could not be taken from me. I refused to let it go. You were dead. No longer would I be required to slink along the hallways, praying that you were not waiting for me. Perhaps now I could finally make some friends, maybe I could finally belong. You could not - you would not ruin my life any more.
By the time detention had rolled around my good mood was wavering. I felt ill, something was rotting my core, and as I walked into the classroom, Lord help me, it worsened. The look my teacher settled upon me before quickly averting her gaze chilled my bones and burned my innards all at once, the heat in my gullet sped the putrefying further.
The silence around us grew and grew, until its weight crushed my shoulders, hunching them under itself, its deep breaths thickened the air until my lungs constricted and breathing became painful.
“Tony Zane,” she began, her words tumbling from her trembling lips in a cracked whisper, “is dead. I can’t believe you laughed at something so-!… How loathsome… To laugh at the death of another. Tony is dead.”
Her loss for words and oddly placed silences spoke louder than any words she did manage to find. I had truly disgusted her with my glee, however, being a teacher she was trying to remain as passive as she could. How dare she behave this way toward me, as if I were acting inexcusably rude, as if I had crossed some sort of boundary. My anger rebuffed what little guilt had been taking seed and I stood abruptly.
“Tony Zane bullied me to the point of near insanity. Why should I care if Tony’s dead? Good ridden.” I squared my jaw and locked eyes with her, glaring defiantly, a rage burning hotter than a thousand suns roared in my ears, covering the conscience that would have normally stopped me sooner. I expected a heated response, or a heartfelt sob of remorse - what’s that saying? ‘Expect the unexpected’? Right, well, I should’ve.
A soft smile stretched her lips, her demeanour creating a crestfallen angel image.
“I see.” Two small words, spoken so quietly that their hum wafted through the room almost coalescing with the air. How infuriating. The damned woman should just come out and speak as she feels instead of pussy footing around it. She busied herself with organizing the papers on her desk before turning to me once more, this time with a brighter smile. She stalked toward me and extended her arm, offering to me the papers that she held. Offering was the wrong word, she was giving them to me, and I wasn’t allowed to refuse. I snatched the paper from her hands, my anger still shook my muscles, making my movement rigid and choppy. Glancing down an eerie hollow feeling exploded within. I looked up at her smiling face, my expression, I’m sure, must’ve been quite the sight; I was aghast.
“You will fill out this information sheet on Tony, and compile a slideshow presentation to honour Tony for the next assembly.”
“Excuse me?”
“You’ll have two weeks.”
“That’s not fair!” She flinched as I spat my words at her, watching as they plastered themselves on her face and clung there. She merely shrugged and smiled them away, banishing them from her mind.
“Never the less.” And with one last smile she turned and strode toward the door. Stopping briefly at the door she glanced back over her shoulder and called to me, “By the way, you can leave now, your detention is over.”
When I arrived home, I stormed to my room, tossed the papers to the floor and kicked them under my bed. There they stayed for the next two days.
I ran with the all the speed I’d ever needed, racing in a mad dash against my mind. I careened through my bedroom doorway and dove under the bed, grasping at the papers, retrieving them from the dark depths of the underneath of my bed. I laid them carefully out in front of me and stared at them. I’m surprised I didn’t burn a hole through them, what with the intensity of my gaze. Just because you were a bad person and a bully, didn’t mean I had to be. I could be the better person, who was I kidding? I was already the better person, however, I could take care of this tedious, strenuous job and prove myself ever better than Tony Zane. I sneered at the mere thought of your name, but the promise that I could present such an amazing side of myself coaxed me into it. I could just go talk to your parents for a half hour and slap together a two minute slideshow no problem, and if the teacher got mad that I didn’t ‘do my best’ I’d merely claim that what I’d created was my very best, who was she to know?
With a plan in mind and the papers in hand I fled my home, choosing instead, the path that would take me closer and closer to the home of Satan (whom I was certain you must’ve been the spawn of.)
I could never explain, even if I tried, the feeling that overcame me as I started on the driveway of the Zane’s. My heart stopped and dread flooded my veins, encompassing me in the cold fear of what was to come. I had raced over without even thinking what I would ask. I knocked on the door, a shaky and hollow pair of knocks. I heard the tell tale thumps of footsteps as someone came to greet me. The door swing wildly open, it came precariously close to knocking me back. The smell that assaulted my senses was nearly enough to choke a skunk. It smelled of cheap tobacco and alcohol; it reeked of bodily excrement and stale food. Immediately I began to breathe through my mouth, horrified at what particles I might swallow but unwilling to have such a stench forced upon me again.
“What d’you want?” Snapped the woman in front of me. I gaped at her, what could I say? All I could do was stare. She had long greasy, yet somehow frizzy, blond hair with grey streaks. She wore what I’m sure used to be a white tank top but was now grey and brown from God only knows what, her sweatpants were hot pink and were littered with steins and tears. Her patience wore thin with me, not surprising she’d have a short fuse.
“Tony’s dead. Didn’t you hear?” That was surprising. I was taken back by her casual tone as she announced her own child’s death. She sniffed lazily as she continued to eye me.
“Well I- I came to, um, to talk to you about Tony. I have a sheet I’ve got to fill out and I was wondering if, err, if you wouldn’t mind answering some questions about T-Tony…” I couldn’t help the stutter that weaved its way through my words. She sighed as if I’d asked the world of her and rolled her eyes.
“Fine. Get in here then.”
I didn’t want to go in. Who would ever want to go in? But I had to go in.
So I did.
The sight that met me wasn’t surprising in the least, it matched the woman and the stench beyond doubt. She dropped herself onto a chair and waved her arm wearily at the chair opposite. Reluctantly I took the proffered chair, scrunching my nose in distaste as I felt dried on food jab at my legs. She lit a smoke and took a long drag, then she turned her dead eyes to me.
“Well?” she snapped, “Get on with it then!”
I jumped and fumbled, mumbling a quick ‘yes ma’am’ before placing the shaking papers on her table and pulling out my ball point pen. I cleared my throat.
“What was Tony’s favourite hobby?”
She sighed again, this time with more enthusiasm.
“How in the hell am I supposed to know that?” She asked exasperatedly. I stared wide eyed at her. Was this really your mother?
“B-but, Tony was your kid. Shouldn’t you kno-”
“No I don’t know,” she interrupted with a voice like a whip, “How should I know what that kid was always up to. Never home anyway.”
I didn’t blame you for that one. I wouldn’t want to be at home either. The door burst open as a short, thick man bustled through. I bristled in my seat, your father. He didn’t seem to notice me at first but once he’d set down his things and turned to address his wife, or girlfriend, or… whatever they were to each other, he noted my presence.
“Who is this?” He demanded indignantly, “don’t they know Tony’s dead?” I flinched again at the harsh delivery. Was there no remorse to be found here for you? The woman chuckled callously.
“Yeah, they’re here to ask us questions about Tony. Some stupid school thing.”
The man growled under his breath and kicked the end table. Hard.
“Damn kid’s causing us trouble even after death!” From there he strung together a very colourful array of curses as he continued to kick various pieces of furniture.
“Calm down, I’ll handle it.” The woman muttered tersely, then she rose and sauntered down the hallway. Not that I liked that woman or felt safe around her or anything, but I wished she wouldn’t leave me alone with that man.
She returned a short while later and tossed a pile of books at me.
“Tony was always writing in those, if you want any answers to your questions, read them.” She took another drag, “That’s the best you’ll get.”
I nodded numbly and collected the pile in silence, scurrying from the premise as fast as my legs allowed.
Back home I hid myself in my room, and tucked myself, freshly showered, under the covers of my Queen sized sleigh bed. I shuddered at the thought of what your bedroom must’ve looked like. I stared at the five books, diaries I should say, lain out before me. I seemed to be doing a lot of staring lately. This was serious, here before me, were the windows into the heart and mind of Tony Zane. I could finally understand, but was that right? To take the answers from the defenceless child? Would you have let me read them? Probably not… but most importantly, did I want to read them? What would I discover from these journals about my tormentor? I was scared, and then I realised. I was scared? Me? I was scared? What about you? You had lived everyday in that hell, You had dealt with those people everyday, and what’s worse, they were the two people that were supposed to love and care for you no matter what. They were the two people that were always painted in such a beautiful light. While everyone was going on about their lives and their petty problems with their parents and such, you had to deal with them. That’s when I knew that I owed it to you to read the diaries, to try to understand, since obviously no one else had. It didn’t matter if I was scared, it was time to be courageous and step up to the plate, you needed this to rest in peace. I needed this to rest in peace.
And so I began.
And oh the things I read in there. They changed my life forever.
Some Quotes From Tony’s Diary:
‘Sometimes I wonder, why was I born? Was it a joke of some bored celestial being? Maybe I’m meant to be like Jesus, and suffer for the sins of mankind.’
‘Does anyone even care where I go or what I do? If I didn’t come home one night, would it change anything?’
‘When life gets really lonely, I always look to the sky, no matter what kind of weather it is, it makes me smile. The sky. One sky. Though it may look different depending on where you stand upon this glorious globe, it’s still only one sky. I can’t help but think of all the people who are looking up at the sky with me, maybe even thinking the same thing, or feeling the same way, and then somehow… It’s not so lonely anymore.’
‘I hate how mean I am.’
‘Mom says I’m ugly and useless, that I’ll never amount to anything, but it makes me wonder… Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? So if that’s true, then doesn’t that mean that everything is beautiful as well as everything is ugly? There are so many people out there with such different opinions, I have to believe that there is someone out there who will see just how amazing I can be.’
‘I wish I could apologise for everything I ever did to Aubrey, but I doubt Aubrey would accept anyway, I really have been awful. I couldn’t help it though! When Aubrey offered me friendship, it just felt like a joke, like maybe Aubrey was just mocking me.’
It shocked me to read my own name in your diaries. To read your thoughts on myself, and it melted my resolve. My hate seemed petty, it seemed stupid and foolish and childish. Who was I to add to your torment? Your parents were horrible enough, not to mention that you already made sure to receive punishment everyday, a dastardly scorn from within.
‘By the time I finally realised that Aubrey’s attempt was sincere, it was two late. I’d already scared Aubrey away… And out of embarrassment my cruel treatment continued. I’m sorry Aubrey. Wish I could tell you… You’re the closest thing to my only friend. How stupid could I be?’
Page after page you torn yourself down, so much of it stemming from our relationship, I couldn’t believe how much regret you felt for our encounters.
Every night I worked through the pile, a little more, a little more, until the two weeks had passed. It was the day, the assembly was today. I hadn’t prepared a slideshow, not even a speech. Not on paper anyway. I knew that nothing I prepared would ever seem good enough. Wasn’t worried about not having a speech or a slideshow, I was still prepared. The students filed into the gymnasium, finding their seating to listen to the assembly. It was some sort of award ceremony, I never won any awards anyway so I didn’t really pay attention. The only reason I even attended was for my speech at the end. When it came close to time the teacher wandered over to me and pulled me into the hall.
“Do you have your slideshow prepared?” She whispered to me.
“No.”
She faltered, unsure of how to take this news, clearly, that wasn’t the response she had desired.
“Excuse me?” She paused, but I didn’t bother to even think of a response, I knew she didn’t really want one. “Well do you at least have a speech written out?”
I shook my head.
“Nope.”
She sighed and gave me a withering look.
“Fine,” she waved her hand tiredly at me, “I’ll do it then, go sit back down.”
“Excuse me?” It was my turn now. The teacher turned to stare curiously at me.
“What is it Aubrey?” She was intrigued, I could tell.
“I want to do it.” I had never heard myself sound so determined. Apparently, if her expression was anything to go by, neither had the teacher.
“But you don’t even have a speech prepared…” She protested, albeit, half-heartedly. A brilliant smile unfolded on my face.
“Don’t worry. I know exactly what I’m going to say.”
She gave me another curious look, I suppose she was wondering just what was I thinking? And as I stood in front of the school, poised at the podium, I’ll tell you what I was thinking, Tony.
I was thinking of what an amazing person you were. Though surrounded with such nightmares you persevered, you pulled through and kept trying. And the only reason you couldn’t make friends, was because nobody cared to reach out and try to understand you. They were probably all too young to even realise - they were all still too young to comprehend. But I now understood, I could now see this world in all its wondrous beauty, because of you. Now even your torment seemed like a blessed thing, without it, I would’ve never reached this epiphany, I would’ve never become the person I am today. Of course, I couldn’t say all that to the school, so I merely said:
“Tony Zane. Tony was an amazing person, and should not have been taken from us so soon. I know that sounds confusing, but I hope someday you’ll understand.”


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