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The Art of Forgetting

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Grass covered in snow, covered in glass, covered in blood.

My Cadillac, or actually my heap of burning metal, lays about ten to fifteen feet away from where my body lays. Well, what should be my body. Now it’s just a bunch of limbs and joints turned at unnatural angles.

I’m lying in seven inches of snow, but I feel like I’m on fire. I guess my car and I have something in common.

When I left this morning, my hair was in loose, blonde curls. My makeup was perfect. I was alive. Now? Not so much. I’m completely broken. Even more so than when I decided I want out. Before I decided I wanted off of this God awful planet I’ve been forced to live on for the past seventeen years.

So here I am, lying face up, with my loose, blonde curls now caked in red, freezing goop. With my perfect makeup now running down my face. With my life slipping out from under me. All of this so I could forget. Here I am, and here I will no longer be.

The Art of Forgetting: drive your black Cadillac eighty mph over the side of the road. Purposely.

Since I was a little girl, I had always heard that when you’re lying on your deathbed, your whole life will flash before your eyes; everything amazing, like a first kiss, or the first time a blue butterfly landed on the tip of your shoe while you sat on the porch swing, in the middle of summer, reading your favorite book. You know, anything to make dying a little easier. I always believed that’s what you saw in the last moments before your life was ripped away from you.

Stupid me.

“No!” Liz yells at me. “No, I don’t believe you! You’re lying!” Elizabeth Montgomery has been my best friend since the fourth grade. She’s always been “That Friend”. You know, the one who’s always a little too loud-and-proud, a little too underdressed, (if you know what I mean), a little too drunk, and a little too I’ll-sleep-with-anyone-if-it-gets-me-what-I-want. Despite all of that, she was the only friend who went to hell and back with me. It was what I loved her for.

“I promise, Liz. He asked me to go,” I told her, matter of factly.

It was the middle of summer before my freshman year when Damon Kelly, THE hottest senior currently attending Colton High School, asked me to go to Sam River’s huge beach party he threw every summer.Perks of being a fourteen year old who looks a lot like an eighteen year old, am I right?

“I dunno if I should even go. I’ll be the only freshman there.”

“Oh my god, Jules, YOU HAVE TO GO! You cannot just say no to The Damon Kelly! I won’t let you!”

“Well, what if you go with me?” Liz had a knack for making me more comfortable, no matter what the situation.

“What! Yes! Yeah!” I knew her going along would not only make me feel a little better, but her too.

Mistake number one.

Damon pulled up in his huge, blue hummer around 10:15. His blonde hair fell perfectly across his forehead, just above his diamond eyes. He smiled that smile, the smile that every girl falls for, and I melted.

Mistake number two.

The ride to Sam’s was awkward. I didn’t really know what to say. I mean, I had never actually had a realistic conversation with him before, so what do you expect?

When we got to Sam’s, the crowd on the porch started yelling.

“KELLY’S HERE!”

“AYE, BIG MAN!”

“DAMON, C’MON, KEG, LET’S GO!”

Damon looked at me with those eyes and gave me a quick smirk and said, “Gotta go get some beer, wait right here?” and before I could answer, he was lost in the crowd.

I waited. And I waited, and waited and waited, until I decided I didn’t wanna wait anymore. So I went to find Liz.

When I found her, she was on the couch with Ryan Gaines, a total stoner in eleventh grade, making out.

Vomit.

“Liz, Lizzy,… ELIZABETH!” When Liz finally looked up, I saw her bloodshot eyes and knew exactly what was going on.

Ugh.

“Hey baby!” Liz giggled. “What is up buttercup?”

Jesus.

“Have you seen Damon anywhere?” I asked.

“Oooooh, you hittin’ that Mathews?” Ryan chimed in with his too slow voice.

“You’re disgusting,” I answered. And just as I turned around, Damon was there.

“I’m right here,” he said towering over me. “What’s up?” His face was fire engine red.

“Oh, uh, I dunno, I was waiting for you and I dunno, I..”

“C’mon, Mathews,” he said. “There’s this cool place down the beach I wanna show ya.” I followed him through the crowd to the back door, onto the beach, and down the beach.

Mistake number three.

“Isn’t it so cool? You can’t tell me this place isn’t cool,” Damon slurred.

“Yeah, no, it’s beautiful!” And it was. Breathtaking, actually. It was sort of like a little cave, but the way the moon hit the water inside, it made everything blue. The water reflected lights onto the walls, which moved when the water did. It was amazing.

“C’mon sit down, Mathews.” I turned and saw Damon sitting on the sand, leaning against a rock behind him. His eyes were even bluer than before.

He actually likes me. Damon Kelly actually likes me. Why else would he bring me here? Why else would he show me his secret, beautiful hideaway?

Jesus, I hate freshmen me. Such an idiot.

I sat down next to him and he leaned in closer to me. He smelled like just had just risen from a puddle of vodka. Now that I was closer to him, he almost looked like it to.

His breath was warm, his skin was warm, my heart felt warm. I felt like I was the drunk one, with butterflies taking off in my stomach. Like I’d just downed ten shots.

Biggest. Freakin’. Mistake.

It took a half an hour until Damon left me alone, laying naked in the sand, crying until I couldn’t breathe.

I felt like I was the drunk one, like I’d drowned the butterflies in ten shots and it was coming back up now. The butterflies were dead, and for the first time, I wished I was too.

I went back to the party an hour later. Liz was passed out, and Damon was in Sam’s parents’ room with another girl, probably some cheerleader. I woke Liz up, got a ride home, went to bed, and stayed there for twenty-seven hours straight.

The smell of vodka stuck to me for a week.

Damon Kelly never talked to me again. He took a girls virginity who wasn’t ready to lose it, and I guess he couldn’t let that stand in his way.

I mean, I gotta owe it to him. If it weren’t for him, I’d never be popular Jules, I’d never be the “Get the hell out of my way, or I swear to god I’ll hurt you” Jules, I’d never have the mentality of I’d rather be feared than loved. I wouldn’t be Jules at all. Popularity is all about perception. But I also probably wouldn’t be dying right now. So yeah, I definitely gotta owe it to him.

The Art of Forgetting: anything but vodka.

I hear the faint sirens. They’re probably down the road three minutes at most. That only gives me three minutes.

I only have three minutes to die.

And all I can think about  is my little sister, and how I decided to leave without telling her goodbye this morning.

“If you rip the band aid off faster, the less it will hurt,” Mom had always told me. My goal in all of this was not to hurt other people that was the last thing I wanted to do. So when I decided I wanted out, my first thought was to say goodbye to everyone I loved really quickly; make it hurt less, like ripping off a band aid. But then I realized it’d probably hurt a whole lot less, to not say it all. So I didn’t.

Jesus Christ, Jules, could you be any more idiotic?

But then I remember Dad.

I was fifteen. It was February. There was a huge snowstorm, one of the biggest ones I’ve ever witnessed. My dad was still at work when the snow started laying.

“David, just stay at the office tonight. They have tons of couches you can sleep on,” I heard Mom say to the phone. “Wait until it clears up a little, at the very least. Better safe than sorry.” When she hung up the phone she told my seven year old sister, Margo, and I that Daddy would not be coming home tonight. The weather wasn’t permitting. Margo, of course, started crying, begging Mom to call Dad back so she could talk to him, but Mom did what Mom does and told her no, which made Margo cry even harder.

Margo cried and cried and cried because that’s what seven year olds do. She finally stopped crying long enough to fall asleep, curled up in a ball on the white loveseat.

I scooped her up, took her to my bedroom, laid her down in my sheets, and kissed her forehead.

Most teenagers don’t really get along with their younger siblings; they think they’re too cool to enjoy hanging out with a seven year old (tip: you’re not too cool. Seven year olds are probably the best age group to be around), but not me. I spent every chance I could with Margo. Sometimes I even blew off a party or two because she wanted to watch Disney movies and camp out in the living room for the night.

I sat there and watched her breathing. I watched the way her eyelids twitched around while she dreamed. I watched the way her breath blew the one strand of red hair that fell across her face. I watched her, and prayed for her to never grow up.

The phone rang.

I ran to close my door so it wouldn’t wake Margo back up and when I grabbed the handle I heard Mom say, “What do you mean?” (Pause). “No, no! He was staying at the office!” (Pause). “No! No, I don’t believe you!”

I closed my door and walked to the bannister, just in time to watch the phone drop from my mother’s hand and hit the hardwood floor with a thud as she fell to her knees.

She started crying. She put her head in her hands, her elbows on her legs, and she cried. I’d never saw her cry until that very moment, and because of that, I knew exactly what had happened.

I stood there, looking over the bannister, staring at my mother who was on the ground crying, and I froze.

I wanted to go down and wrap myself around her like a blanket. I wanted to make her feel safe. I knew I couldn’t do that, though. So I walked back to my room, sat down on my bed, and watched Margo’s chest rise and fall, because that was the only thing I could do.

Mom shook me awake at 2:27 am.

“Jules? Jules, I need to talk to you.”

“Okay, yeah, coming.” I was half asleep, and I had completely forgot what I had witness hours before. We walked down the hall to my parents’ bedroom. She sat down on the bed and patted the spot next to her for me to sit down.

My mom and I had never really gotten along. We always butted heads, for as long as I could remember, and it didn’t get better until she started going on business trips around the world, which meant leaving us for weeks at a time. That’s the only time we got along, when she wasn’t anywhere near me. I didn’t even miss her.

“Honey, something bad has happened. Really, really bad.” Her eyes were blood shot. Her face was blotchy. She began to tear up.

And then I remembered.

“Your Dad was trying to come home from the office, and you know that really sharp turn? On your way home? The one that’s basically a straight drop down? Honey, he wrecked there. He didn’t make it.” She was crying again. It actually took me an extra minute to decipher what she said through the wheezing and coughing and whimpering.

Such a typical David move. Of course he’d drive home even though it could kill him, he had no regards for anyone else. Must be where I got it.

I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to cry, but for some reason the tears wouldn’t surface.

I was scared.

Mom wrapped her arms around me for the first time since I was nine, and that’s when I busted open. I cried so hard that I thought my bones were breaking, and my insides were boiling.

Mom cried with me. We ended up falling asleep on top of what was now only her blankets, on only her bed, in only her room, with only her fifteen year old daughter.

I don’t know if there’s anything sadder than that.

At around seven in the morning, I felt something grabbing my leg and shaking it. When I looked down, all I saw was a little ball of red fuzz and some baby blue shirt that was way too big for Margo.

It was Dad’s shirt.

“Jules, what a matter with Mommy?” I glanced over, remembering the night before, but she wasn’t there.

“What do ya mean, Mar?”

“Well, this morning I heard someone crying in the kitchen so I went down because I thought it was you, and she was sitting at the table crying. She was holding something. I dunno what it was, looked like a picture. I asked her if she was okay and she cried harder and told me to wait until you were awake so that you could tell me,” Margo rambled out at me.

Who knew I was Margo’s mom.

I sighed. I didn’t really wanna be the one to break the news to Margo. I didn’t even know how to. I was fifteen, for God’s sake.

“Baby, why don’t we go to my room, okay? Let me go potty and I’ll be in.” I walked into the bathroom and stared in the mirror.

How in the hell am I supposed to tell a seven year old her father is dead.

About five minutes later I walked into my room to see Margo sitting on the window seat playing with Ele, her stuffed elephant that she couldn’t live without. Dad had gotten it for her.

“Margo, you know how Daddy was staying at the office last night?”

“Yeah, and stupid Mom wouldn’t let me talk to him.” Margo was better at holding grudges than me.

“Do you know why he was staying at the office?”

“Because the roads were icky,” Margo told me, very matter of factly, as if I didn’t already know.

“Okay, well he decided he was gonna try to come home last night and,”

“Where is he?” Margo interrupted.

“That’s what I’m getting at, be quiet and listen. Okay, so while he was driving home, the roads kept getting even ickier, and you know that big turn, the one that kinda scares you?”

“Yeah! The one that I always think we’re gonna fall off of!”

“Yeah, Mar, that one. Well, Daddy was driving home, and he must’ve been going a little too fast, or he wasn’t paying enough attention to the road, and, well Mar, Daddy wrecked over the big turn that scares you, baby.”

“Where’s he now?” Margo didn’t get what I was saying, which I hoped wouldn’t happen. I didn’t wanna tell her bluntly that Dad died. I was afraid I couldn’t handle it.

“Mar, that’s the thing…”

She gave me an I-don’t-get-what-you’re-trying-to-say-here face and I knew I was gonna have to say it.

“Daddy died, Margo. He’s gone. He’s not coming home.”

I really honestly expected questioning. I didn’t think she’d just take what I was saying and understand it before she began to cry. But instead she dropped Ele, stared at her on the floor, and started bawling.

I’ve seen the worst cuts, and bruises, and even a broken arm on that little girl, but I’ve never seen her hurt like that. She cried until I didn’t think she could anymore. She threw up twice. And just as she was falling asleep, after all the tears, and tissues, and vomit, all she said to me was, “I didn’t even get to say goodbye.”

Margo never cried over my dad again, which I always thought was weird. She was more scared of him at the funeral than she was sad over him, (she was convinced he would grab her arm if she went anywhere near the body), and even when she forced me or Mom to take her to his grave every week for the past two years, she never once cried.

Then again, neither did I. We both loved him more than anything, but we owed it to him to not be sad.

Mom isn’t a mom to either of us at all anymore. Not even to Margo. She leaves for weeks at a time, and when she comes home she only gets up when we go to bed, and goes to bed when we get up. I think we remind her too much of losing Dad. Especially Margo. She’s just like he was.

As bad as it sounds, sometimes I think Margo and I forget he was ever alive. I blame it on the no goodbye, but that’s just me.

Margo threw Ele in the garbage one day, though. When I asked her why, all she said was, “It still smelled like him. I don’t like that smell anymore.”

The Art of Forgetting: absolutely no goodbye’s.

The ambulance, the police cars, and the fire engines are all sitting on the road above me. People are yelling. They don’t know how to get down to me.

It took my mom twenty-five years to decide to wanna have me, three more years to meet and marry my dad, I’d say thirty minutes to conceive me, nine months to prepare for me, seven hours of labor for me to finally be a part of this world, and seventeen years to decided I didn’t wanna be anymore.

I have probably two minutes left in me.

Two whole minutes of life left.

Two whole minutes before I’m nothing but a memory.

Two minutes. Tops.

I can tell you the exact moment I decided I no longer wanted to live.

It was two weeks ago, when I finally decided.

I was at Adalynn Jones’s party with Liz and this week’s boy toy of hers. Adalynn’s parties were always my favorite because she always gave me permission to sneak down to her parents’ wine cellar, where I was allowed to take one wine bottle as long as I didn’t tell anyone where I got it.

I always took two.

I grabbed a wine bottle, then slipped another in my purse, and headed upstairs.

When I turned the corner, I saw Cooper Holland, a majorly attractive, but innocent, kid in my grade. I moved in for the kill.

“Hey, Coop! What’re you doing here?” I yelled over the music, talking, and smoke filled air.

“Ah, just thought I’d change it up a bit. What’re you up to?”

God, his voice was hot.

“Did you honestly expect to come here and not see me?” I said then winked.

He shined a half smile and looked at the floor. Such a shy kid.

“Hey, you wanna drink? I got the good stuff.”

“Uhh, I don’t really…”

“Okay great!” I interrupted as I grabbed a cup from the table to my left. I poured it about half full, you know, since he was fairly new at this, and handed him the cup. He gave me a nervous look and then sipped some of the wine.

His face lit up. “Wow, oh my God, that’s really good!” He took another gulp.

“Hey slow her down there, kid. Don’t wanna move too fast.”

I hung out with Cooper for most of the night. We got drunk way too fast, went to the bedroom way too clumsily, and you know what happens next.

You see, I haven’t really felt anything in a long time. I figured the best way to make myself feel something was physically, but apparently that’s not the case. Never have I felt less than when I was laying under a person who I had no interest in loving.

That wasn’t the first time I made an innocent not so innocent anymore.

I realized that if there was one thing I hated about myself, it was that I became what I promised myself I never would; I became Damon Kelley.

As I laid in a strange bed, next to a boy who I would never talk to again, I decided.

I wanted out.

I got up, got dressed, walked out of the room, took another swig of wine, and kissed the closest guy I could find.

The Art of forgetting: get really drunk, and I mean really drunk, kiss other people, and don’t stop kissing them, and never learn their names.

When I decided I was going to run my car off the road, in the same spot my dad had died, the same spot that terrified my fearless little sister, the same spot I drove past every day of my life, I did it for me. I didn’t do it to get back at anyone. I didn’t do it to hurt anyone. I didn’t even do it to hurt myself, in fact it was the opposite.

I did it to forget, simple as that.

I’m lying in seven inches of snow, with my burning Cadillac ten to fifteen feet away from me, and I no longer feel like I’m on fire.

I feel numb.

Maybe it was the snow, maybe it was the memories, the worst memories I have, that caused all the feeling to escape my body, I don’t know.

I never will.

So here I am, and here, in less than a minute, I will no longer be.

I’ve never been one of those annoying teenagers obsessing over Tumblr and fake depression; one of the ones who romanticize suicide. But as I’m lying in the snow, staring up into the dark sky with tiny little pin pricks of light looking down on me, I laugh. Because who the hell knew dying could be so beautiful.

And then it goes black.

The Art of Forgetting: you don’t.

 

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The voice of the Tyrone Area High School
The Art of Forgetting