This is an excerpt from a new novel I have begun to write. Comments appreciated.
I didn’t see it on the news. None of her friends called me, and I didn’t hear from it at school. Two policemen showed up at my front door in Antioch. I answered the door on a particularly normal, humid summer afternoon. I saw the police cruiser outside, and the men took off their hats and asked if I was Adrian Lopez. When I replied yes, the tall, bearded cop on the left of the doorway said that there wasn’t any easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it. Your friend Maya committed suicide this morning. She left a death note on her desk: it’s got your name on it.
I was in a state of sheer shock and disbelief. It took my brain a few seconds to comprehend the words that just came out of the man’s mouth. The policemen declared that they would have to take me to her house and have me answer a few questions. I sat in the doorway for a moment; my eyes glazed a bit. And then I followed them to the police cruiser, and I didn’t say a word. I got in the back seat, and I pressed my forehead against the window. The car rocked back and forth as we sped off toward Concord, where Maya’s father lived. I looked up outside the window into the clear blue summer sky, and I could’ve sworn I saw the eyes of God staring into my soul; he was laughing.
We arrived outside of her father’s house in exactly 12 minutes and 13 seconds. That was the longest 12 minutes of my entire life. The bearded policeman opened my car door, and I stepped outside to a funeral-type scene of medical technicians, the coroner, and Maya’s father standing outside the front porch of the house. He looked at me with his swollen, bloodshot red eyes; a look of fury and depression was infused in his pupils. As I approached the house, the plethora of people split from the stone walkway and allowed me to pass onto the porch. Maya’s father, the disdainful and violent man she would always talk about, was a pathetic and unworthy sight. He had short cut black hair, and was carrying a Giants snapback in his hands. He wore a white wife beater T-shirt, and sagged his pants a few inches below his waist without a belt. As I stepped onto the front wooden porch, I turned my head and glared right into his eyes. Not one word was spilled from his lips, but I heard everything he was trying to say.
The bearded policeman told me that Maya’s body was found in her bedroom: she had hung herself. He say that If you want to go inside to see her and read her note, you may do so; but please don’t touch anything, for the room has already been detailed. A look of suspicion and pity was upon his face; I could see it in his eyes. I trudged slowly up the staircase; there were exactly 14 wooden steps, and the last 4 to the top creaked slightly. The walls of the house were painted a pale yellow, and there was a crucifix upon the wall at the top of the staircase. A picture of Jesus Christ himself was on the hallway wall before the door to Maya’s bedroom. It was a picture of him and his disciples at the Last Supper. I glared into the picture for a moment; a sense of sadness and anxiety zipped right through my body. My hands began to shake, and my eyes began to tear up. I was not prepared for what I was about to see.
I slowly creaked open the white door that led to Maya’s room. I closed my eyes in fear of seeing a horror that I could not handle. Once I had the door pushed up against her bedroom wall, I slowly opened my eyes with my hands covering my face. She was hung in the middle of the room from her black leather belt that was attached to the plastic chandelier in the middle of the ceiling. Her eyes were closed, but she was looking right through me. Her crispy brownish-blonde curly hair was banging down the sides of her head. Her lips and skin were pale, and her body was motionless. There was a detesting and foul odor in the room: it was the smell of death. I was overwhelmed with terror, sadness, and rage. I began to cry hysterically, and I slowly slumped down to the floor holding onto my knees. I covered my face with my hands, and rocked slightly forward and backward. I sobbingly spoke the words Why, Why, Why to myself in my fit of emotion.
After a good four minutes, I composed what little I could of myself to approach her pink mahogany desk in the corner of her bedroom. There was a piece of binder paper placed directly in the center of the desk, and written upon it in pink pen were words that will haunt me for the remainder of my life:
I’m sorry things went wrong between us. I was wrong to not realize how great of a guy you are. You never betrayed me or lied to me or tried to take advantage of me. You never gave up on me and you were the only one who was there for me when even I wasn’t. I am sorry that I have tortured you for so long. I have neglected you and your love, and I have caused you unspeakable amounts of pain. I am sorry. I am sorry for everything I’ve put you through. This will be the last time I talk to you. I don’t deserve you. I am not good for you. I can never forgive myself for pushing away the one guy who was my best friend: you are my best friend. And I turned you away; I neglected how perfect our lives could be together. I love you, Adrian. I always have. I always will. I’m sorry I didn’t realize that sooner, but I am not going to hurt you anymore.
Love always and forever,
I stared at the letter for a moment, and I lost it. I started screaming and crying in a state of sheer delirium. Why Maya? Why? I screamed. I’m sorry! I’m so sorry for everything! The policemen rushed inside and pulled me out of the bedroom and out to the front porch. I collapsed on my knees and sat there on the grass. A female medical technician kneeled down beside me and rubbed my back slowly, saying Its going to be OK. Shhhhh she said quietly. I hugged and cried into her shoulder.
After the coroner had taken away Maya’s body, the medical personnel began to leave. Maya’s father shook the policemen’s hands and went into the house, and I had pulled myself together just in time to see the female medical technician get into her ambulance. She waved for me to come to the window. Are you OK? she said. I nodded slightly, my eyes looking down to the street. She took her index finger under my chin, and raised my eyes to meet hers. You’ll be alright, hun. she said. I backed away from the ambulance and she drove off slowly down the street. I couldn’t forget the look she had in her sparkly greenish-bluish eyes. It was a look of hope. I trudged over to the police cruiser, and the policemen and I got inside and began to drive home. I looked through the rear windshield and saw Maya standing in the middle of the street, her curly crisp hair waving slightly in the wind. She had her glasses on, and she was waving goodbye to me. I turned back around, looked out the window, and did not say a word to anyone.
I didn’t talk to anybody for two weeks. My mother called my work and told them to give me time off. It was summer vacation, so I didn’t have to go to school. I just stayed in my room. I didn’t eat much. I didn’t go outside or watch TV or play video games on my computer. I had the window closed most of the time, the blinds all the way shut. I would put on a apple cinnamon candle every night, and stare at it from my bed while it glowed in the darkness. My mother would open my bedroom door every morning before she went to work, and would say she loved me and that she hoped I feel better. My older brother didn’t talk to me much or see me; I think my mother told him not to. I just sat in my room, and did nothing. I didn’t have it in me to do anything. It felt like I was the one hanging in that bedroom. It felt like dying.
One day, I decided to go for a walk. I put on some blue PE shorts, a white plain T-shirt, some black slippers, and started walking. It was maybe 10 o’clock in the morning. The birds chirped as they usually did. The sun and the sky were out, bright and shining. I don’t know how far I walked from my home, but I stumbled upon the Antioch community park. It was a luscious, expansive patch of grass and redwood trees. I followed the white stone pathway to the center of the park: there was a colorful play structure with a sandbox in the middle of the field, a softball field to the far end of the park, and a few metal benches hidden in the shade of the trees. I sat down on one of the benches and listened to the rustling of the leaves; the chirping of the birds and sounds of the wind’s breeze. I watched the flies dance and celebrate in the sandbox. A crow flew onto the pathway to the right of the bench. It croaked several times and stared at me. What do you want? I said. It croaked again, and walked to the left side of the bench.
Maya was there sitting next to me. She was staring at the crow.
“I think he just wants someone to talk to.” She said. She looked at me, the rim of her glasses reflecting the leaves of the redwood tree.
“I don’t want to talk to anybody right now.” I replied. I looked away from her, for I couldn’t bear the thought of staring into her green eyes.
“You can talk to me. I will always be here for you. Always have been.”
I looked at her, a small smile on her face. Her pink, soft lips. Her cute little nose. It brought a lonely tear to my eye, and it slithered down my cheek.
“Why did this happen, Maya?” I asked.
“You should think about that.” She said to me. “I want you to think about that really hard. Where did we go wrong?”
“I don’t know where to start, Maya. Things were complicated between us.”
“If you don’t know where to start, why not start from the beginning?” She said. She stood up from the bench, and looked out onto the field. She put her hands on her hips, her curly hair blowing in the wind. I closed my eyes for a moment, and I felt the window blow against my face. The crow croaked again, and I opened my eyes in a shock. The crow, and Maya, were gone. I was left in the company of my bench, the redwood tree, and the wind.
I first met Maya in 6th grade at Pine Hollow Middle School in Concord. She didn’t look much different than she did now. Still had glasses, the cute little nose, and the soft brown freckles on her cheeks. She had braces, and was about my height. The only real difference was her hair; its more curly now than it ever has been.
We didn’t have any classes together, though I would always see her in the halls. Never really thought anything of her. We weren’t the best of friends in 6th grade; as a matter of fact, we never really talked that much at all. We had been introduced before, but we didn’t hang out or talk very often. I was oblivious to her, and she was oblivious to me. That’s probably the one thing about 6th grade that I regret: I didn’t know who Maya was. I didn’t get to know what type of girl she was, what she was like. I didn’t pay attention to her. I still think about what life could’ve been like if I had. If we had been better friends, things could’ve been different. But life is the way it is, and it was not our time.
I remember a particular incident in Mrs. Kahl’s class. We were in the middle of Language Arts and were about to transfer over to World History when Maya, who was the office TA in 6th grade, came in with a note. Mrs. Kahl was just about finished with reading a passage from the textbook, and Maya came strolling down the aisle toward Mrs. Kahl’s desk in the front of the room. I don’t know how it happened, but a boy stuck his foot out in front of her; she tripped and nearly plowed onto the concrete floor if I had not caught her in time. Some of the boys in the class giggled, and some of the girls sneered and glared. It happened so quickly, and yet it was like I saw it coming. I jumped out of my desk in a flash and caught her with my arms in a hug-like fashion. Are you OK? I said. She nodded slightly, her cheeks red with embarrassment. I smiled slightly, and sat back down. She gave Mrs. Kahl the note, and exited the class in a hurry.
I remember later that day at lunch she came up to me when I was sitting on a green, plastic bench in the quad. Thank you. she said to me. I smiled slightly, and replied No problem. We sat there for a moment, and glared at each other. Her group of friends came along and swept her away. I still remember the glance she gave me when she turned around before they went into the cafeteria.
After that, we didn’t talk too much. I didn’t see much of her for the rest of 6th grade. I always heard about her, though. An occasional rumor here and there about “Maya the weirdo”. Some girls would be talking about how she was a loner and how she didn’t really hang out with anyone. She just sat quietly in class and did her work. I never paid much attention, but its interesting to reminisce about it now. I think in some way, I should’ve paid more attention to Maya. Maybe she was a loner, and maybe she just needed a good friend to talk to. But I was too young and foolish and naïve to pay any real attention to her or anything in the world. I didn’t understand what love or friendship meant. I didn’t understand how valuable a friend could be. I just carried on with my day-to-day affairs, and I didn’t speak to Maya. I didn’t think about Maya. If I was to put it in a blunt way, I didn’t care all that much about Maya in 6th grade. But, as life would have it, things change.