Michael Yan

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
A story about love and loss.

Submitted: June 02, 2011

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Submitted: June 02, 2011

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His name was Michael Yan. He sat behind me in English and two seats down from mine in maths. He was a quiet guy; always kept to himself and never said anything to anyone other than a few courteous words. He’d been going to West Virginia High for about three years before it happened, and all the time he was there people only knew him as the strange Chinese guy who was abnormally good at history and favoured particularly by Mrs Olsen, who taught AP modern history to the seniors. As I say, most of Michael’s time in the school before that day... that godforsaken day...was practically insignificant. No one really knew Michael Yan, no one except Thomas Heathway who was expelled at some point for dealing drugs in school. And since no one really knew Thomas either, what would happen on June 16th was beyond anybody’s capability to foresee...

I first got to know Michael Yan during the spring time of our last year in West Virginia High. He was assigned as my peer tutor for history and I remember I wasn’t happy about that at all. I went to see Mrs Olsen twice about maybe getting somebody else to teach me and looking back now, I wish I would have looked at Mrs Olsen’s face properly. I wish I’d told her how much she meant to all of us. How, without her wiser judgment, those last few months wouldn’t have been as amazing as they turned out to be. Mrs Olsen stared down at me from over her half moon spectacles, an amused look shaping her features. “Jessica. I’m sorry but you’re just going to have to settle for Michael as your peer tutor. I mean, who knows, you might actually end up getting along with him.” I doubted her judgment immensely as I sulked out of her office that Tuesday afternoon, just three months before the incident occurred.

But, I guess I can admit now that Mrs Olsen was right; Michael Yan was a nice guy. I mean yes it was a bit awkward at the beginning - like on that first day when I went to his house. I remember walking up the steps to that huge mansion (who knew Michael Yan’s family owned multiple businesses across the country) and was greeted by his housekeeper who lead me to his study hall where sure enough, he sat there waiting for me with all his history gear out and a surprisingly handsome smile stretched across his face. We got over the awkwardness in the first couple of weeks and before either of us was sure what was happening, we were spending nearly every day together – sharing jokes, having fun and just enjoying each other’s company.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when seeing Michael Yan changed from just a mandatory task to the highlight of my day. I don’t know when his named turned to a charm or when his voice acquired the allure of magic. But at some point I must have realised that he knew me better than I knew myself – and that changed everything. Suddenly it was hard to breathe when he touched me, hard to speak when he spoke to me, hard to focus when he looked at me.

He told me he loved me just two months after we’d met. We sat in the local park just after midnight, sharing a blanket to protect ourselves against the cold when he leaned in and whispered those three small words in my ear. Nothing else seemed to matter anymore after that moment. It was as if I was on a cloud, just floating with not a care in the world for anything or anyone other than Michael Yan. Little did we know that night as we sat under the star speckled sky, that things were about to change forever. That nothing would ever be the same once that horrible day had come to pass...

June 16th started like any other day. I came into school that morning wanting nothing more than for 4:30 to roll around so we could all go home again. It was during second period English when it happened. I wasn’t sure what was going on at first when we’d heard the gunshots outside and everybody was suddenly screaming and crying and hiding under whatever table they could find. Michael was by my side before I knew it; one strong arm circling my waist as he moved us to a safer spot in the room. “You’re going to be fine here okay. Don’t worry Jess, I’m here.” He said to me as he cupped my face with one hand and stared coolly into my eyes. I’ll never forget the calm in his voice amidst the chaos of that moment. I wanted to ask him how he could be so sure that I would be okay. I wanted so badly to know what was going on. But I couldn’t say anything – it was as if my voice had frozen in my throat and become a lump that was slowly dissolving into tears. He kissed me then, a salty kiss as soft as death. And then he left. I stared at the door for a full minute once he’d left despite Mr Golding’s objections. It took me that minute to realise that I couldn’t just sit there and wait for him to return. So I got up and followed him. We all make decisions in our lives. I sometimes stare into space for hours wondering how things may have been different had I not decided to follow him on that faithful day. But I did...

I followed him to a deserted hallway and by this time the tension had stirred thick in the air and the silence worked to amplify each miniscule noise to a deafening level. It surprised me how he walked with such confidence – but I didn’t question it... He walked for a moment longer until he finally came to a halt in the middle of what looked like an empty space.

“Tom! You there?” Silence was his reply. “Tom? Tom we need to talk abou-” “I know what you’re going to say.” He emerged then, Thomas Heathway, his ashen face glistening with sweat and his hands shaking violently with fear. I hadn’t seen Thomas Heathway in almost a year, but it was more than time that had changed Heathway’s features to a point beyond recognition. “You know you can’t back out of this Mike. You can't have forgotten how awful these past three years have been. They made our lives hell and we said we were gonna get them back. Now either you're with me, or you're against me Mike!” Thomas raised the thick black object at the end of his wiry arm and pointed it at Michael. “What’s it gonna be Mikey?” “Just calm down Tom-” “-calm down? I just put a friggin’ bullet in that history teacher and you’re telling me to calm down!” Tom’s tremors grew more violent and I could see the panic clouding Michael’s eyes as he stared at gun that rested on his head. “You killed Mrs Olsen?” “Mike, we had a deal remember? She was in my way so I had to get rid of her. But now listen to me, we made a promise that we’d come back here and make these people pay for treating us like dirt all these years. We Mike, we made the promise. So why am I the only one who’s sticking to it?” There was genuine pain in Tom’s voice as he desperately searched Michael’s eyes for something that he would never find – alliance. Tom’s mouth set to a hard line then. He’d decided his fate and he knew what he was going to do. A moment of silence settled around them like dust – shattered suddenly by the click of the trigger – and then fire...

Everything after that point onwards was like a series of blurred images. I remember taking a piece of shared glass from where Tom had broken a window. I remember sneaking up behind him as he stared down and Michael’s lifeless body...And then, I remember everything going black...


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