As a 13 year old girl, I thought no one could hurt me. I enjoyed school, sports, band and hanging out with friends. I felt awkward at times as any new teen would but I felt secure with my surroundings, felt safe, and I felt invisible. My favorite thing to do was socialize with my friends and play sports.
I woke one particular morning in May, I got ready for school I listen to a mix tape a friend had given me, and I hummed and danced to the music as I picked out my clothes for the day. I remember putting on my favorite acid-washed jeans with a t-shirt and sweat shirts, I particularly remember that morning feeling like summer was coming soon as the sun broke through the curtains on the windows.
My sister yelled from the bathroom, “if you want a ride to school, you better be ready in five minutes.” I raced around my mess in our room, throwing things in my backpack, pushed stop on the cassette player that I had been listening to and remembered that my friend had wanted me to bring it back to her that week but I hadn’t gotten a chance to record it yet so, I left it on the player.
My sister and I drove to school, she dropped me that morning in the high school parking lot and I walked the short distance down the bike path between the middle and high school. The sun was out, warm on my face and I was excited for the start of a new week.
As I walked to school, I notice that just beyond the soccer field to my left, long yellow caution tape lined the tree line. It seemed to stretch almost the entire length of the field and I remember thinking it seemed strange and out of place but I didn’t really give it a second thought. I had been so excited to see the cute blonde haired, blue eyed boy I had a crush on.
I walked through the double doors at the end of the hall and I headed straight for my locker and as I fumbled with the dial to open my locker. A friend approached me with tears streaming down her face and asked me if I had heard. In my head, “I thought heard what.” I assumed it was something about her being dumped by the boy she liked. Why was she so hysterical?
Instead what fell from her lips, stopped time in my 13 year old life? I was still but trembling and I remember saying, “what are you talking about, how, why, what, where,” and my heart began to race. I felt light headed, sweaty, and nervous, my body was without response.
I walked to the band room and one of my favorite teachers’ was not in her classroom. I then walked the inner quad of the building and saw that on two walls outside my math room they were covered with white paper and I could see through the door that students and staff were inside her class. A few students retreated from inside, walked directly to the wall covered in paper and started to write something on the walls. Memories of …….. And on the other side they wrote, Feelings of ….. .
I leaned against the wall, felt my body collapse slowly down the side of the wall where I sat slumped over, my head in my hands. I was burning up, numb to everything around me. My favorite science teacher walked passed, he helped me up off the floor, hugged me with a tight long squeeze, he didn’t pull away and as my tears soaked into his light blue shirt, I said, “I need to see my sister, I need her, I need her.” In my heaving chest, racing heart, sweaty palms he aided me to the front office desk and gave me a pass, as I walked out the front door, he said “I will call the high school and let them know you need to see your sister immediately.”
I walked quickly to the high school, back down the bike path that I just walked earlier that morning and past the same yellow caution tape,. This time when I passed it, walking in completely parallel to whatever horror happened behind it, I noticed a few police cars and I started to run.
I made it to the high school, I threw open the door the students buzzed around inside, it seemed strangely loud and I walked into the office, announced who I was and through my hysterical state my sister walked to my side and I collapsed in her arms. I let go and the tears came like a heavy down pour as I tried to explain what was happening at the middle school and remember wanting an answer from her. We moved into the principal’s office where we sat, she held me, and everything inside of me was empty. I was so confused.
Did my friend really get murdered? How? When? Why? Who? My mind went to the mix tape I left at my house that morning that she wanted returned to her. The yellow caution tape told me where she took her last breaths and I looked to my sister, “Can we go home?”
We drove home, the car was silent, it seemed so hot but the heat wasn’t on and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My heart was broken but even now I can’t find the right words or perhaps the full magnitude of how it felt. We pulled in the drive way, my sister brought me in the house and I went straight to our shared room. I sat on my bed and my eyes fell to the sight of the mix tape sitting on my cassette player.
I knew her laugh, her smile, her generosity, and how everyone always laughed when they were with her. And she was gone. I would never see her again, never hear her voice, see her smile or never laugh with her again. I was in shock. I felt numb, empty, and in complete disbelief.
I would never see life the way I used too, never feel free from fear, and I learned that day and still to this day that no knows what life has in store for us tomorrow.
Out of protection of the family and friends that had go to through this and all the surrounding people that had to deal with this and still do. I cannot share any more of this real-life story out of respect. I pray for this family every day think of them often and every year that passes I visit her grave with that same cassette tape early in the morning and play that song. Every year I shed tears for her and her family. Many prayers to you all. She will never be forgotten.