The next day I felt no better. The house was too quiet and the silence was so thick I felt like I could choke on it. I didn’t want to leave my bed, yet at the same time I wanted to be anywhere but there, so thank goodness it was a school day.

As I slipped a shirt over my head I thought about how she would normally be blaring some music around now. Our communication to each other was music, like when we had sung duets in our separate showers, and I knew she wasn’t always playing her music as a way of talking to me, but I always saw it as that. I could tell what mood she was in by the songs she would play. The days before she died she played the same music she normally did yet it was louder than usual, almost as if she was trying to drown out the noise of something else. I never knew what – her father yelling from downstairs to her; the multiple objects she kept letting drop on the floor; the torture of her own mind.

After getting ready I hopped on my bike and peddled to school. I always felt like I could clear my mind when riding my bike, the wind sweeping past me seemed to blow all of my worries away even if only for a little while. That bike was one of the only thing I had left of my dad. My parents got divorced when I was younger and I only ever really saw him on special occasions. It wasn’t like he went far – he lived in town and owned a bike repair shop. I only ever saw him if I was turning a year older or something on my bike was broken, and neither of those happened very often.

At school we were all called into an assembly. In the gym facing the bleachers was the portrait of my next-door neighbor I saw in her front yard a couple days ago. Our principle was already standing at the podium next to it and the crowd of students took their seats as quickly as high schoolers can. The principle tapped on the microphone and cleared her throat.

“We wanted to take a moment before we start classes to remember our dear student, Cassandra Bernard.”

Cassandra. Her name was Cassandra.

“A little over a week ago she tragically took her own life, but I believe if she had known the support we have for her today she wouldn’t have done so.”

A couple people scoffed and snorted at the remark.

“To start us off, her boyfriend would like to come up and say a few words.”

It was only then that I realized Jason Morez was wearing a full suit as he buttoned up his jacket and fixed his tie as he walked to where our principle was. “You could never understand the pain I felt when I heard the news,” he started, vaguely. “I questioned every word I had ever said to her, every act I had done for her. Had all of my efforts to show her how I felt for her not been enough?”

He composed himself briefly, either from tears or anger.

“My whole life lead up to dating this girl.”

He pointed at the picture beside him, a girl with a smiling face and eyes that knew exactly where to look for the camera. I noticed her long brown hair and her green eyes, her gold earrings and her small nose. She was pretty, but not the kind you would fall in love with as soon as you saw her.

“I fell in love with her as soon as I saw her; her beauty blew me away. I knew I had to have her as my own, and after years of being too shy I finally got the guts to ask her out.” He chuckled, “She turned me down at first, but after a couple more tried she finally let me in.”

I didn’t want to consider exactly what he meant by “let me in”, but I had a good idea he was the reason I used to wear those noise-canceling headphones so much.

“She was my life; my world; my everything, and she cared about me too. I was so lucky to be loved by her. She was so thankful whenever I got her something, even things as simple as fries from McDonalds when she was craving them at one in the morning. Her laugh was like music, and her smile was the harmony – I mean, you can see it here!”

He pointed to the photo again.

He tried to go on but the principle came up and convinced him to move away. He shuffled his feet against the wooden floor and sulked even when he was sat again. He really loved this girl, so there must have been something to really love. I could understand, I knew what he meant about her laughter. Looking at her face now I could imagine the harmonies we would sing together escaping her perfectly placed lips. She may be almost plain, but she seemed to be someone worth loving. She was cute and I wouldn’t hate having her on my arm.

After a talk from some man talking about mental health and how suicide is never the answer we were excused. Jason had painted this beautiful picture of this super happy girl, but why would someone so happy take their own life? Why were all of the songs we sang right before she died so focused on wanting to be accepted and loved? What was she trying to drown out with her loud music in the morning?

“It’s ridiculous we had to go to that, as if she was a person who deserved to be remembered.”

“At least we got out of algebra for it.”

I normally wouldn’t care about school gossip, but I found myself slowing my pace to listen in on the group of girls talking too loudly for a private conversation.

“She was such a terrible person, remember when she pushed Claire into that locker?”

“Claire always got the worst of it, no idea why.”

“She’s an easy target.”

“Sure, she’s a pushover, but what about when Cassandra trashed Mrs. Turners car for no reason?”

“I thought it was just a rumor she did it.”

“Who else would of done it? Plus, she always had that group she was able to control and do her dirty work, it’s disgusting really.”

“Honestly, I’m glad she’s dead, she deserved what came to her.”

As the voices became to far away for me to hear, my confusion only grew. How could her boyfriend have painted this amazing picture of her yet so many people are glad she is gone? Could he have been under her finger too? Could she have been misconstrued? How could someone be so loved and yet so hated at the same time?

Who on earth was this girl I used to sing with every night?


ella ♡
ella ♡