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Second Place - "Bloody Kisses"

1997 Anne Horton Writing Award
Second Place
"Bloody Kisses"
Nathan Underhile

On many lonely nights I often pass the time sitting around my room and listening to the familiar sound of music coming from my stereo. As I'm lying in my bed, I begin to listen to the solemn tunes of Type O Negative's Bloody Kisses, probably my most used compact disc. As a certain song ends, the always depressing track number ten starts to play. As usual, I instantly stop contemplating what in the hell I want to do with my life and begin to think about how the melancholy words being sung are somewhat similar to an event from my life which I don't care to ponder very often.

I recall meeting her about a week after the start of my senior year in high school. I'd been gone to South Carolina and missed the first week of school. My first class was Spanish; when I arrived the teacher talked with me for a while and then told me where to sit. There was a girl a little bit younger than I was sitting in the chair next to mine; I remember her wearing denim overalls and thinking she was one of the cutest girls that I'd laid eyes upon in a while. Without ever meeting me before, she instantly started talking to me and questioning my whereabouts for the past week. As soon as the tardy bell had rung and the teacher had told everyone to be quiet for the morning announcements, the unnamed girl I'd been referring to started passing me notes asking me all kinds of questions. Later on that night while I was sitting at home, she called me. I was pretty excited about her interest in me and couldn't wait to see her the next day.

Eventually we started going to lunch together every day and spent quite a bit of our free time together. She would always meet me at my locker after her classes, and we would walk and talk until it was time for our next class. I distinctly remember the day we first kissed. Actually she was the one who kissed me. Usually I'm the one to make the first move. It was a beautiful fall day, just warm enough to wear shorts, and we were sitting outside. We were discussing some humorous event that had taken place in our mutual class earlier that day when she leaned over and unexpectedly kissed me. Afterwards, I began to wonder if I wanted to get involved with this girl or just be friends.

As soon as it actually occurred to me that I was dating this girl, we decided to start seeing other people. After a few weeks of going out together on weekends, even though she was grounded for practically half the time, I decided I wanted to meet and date other people, and she agreed. It's a relief to me, now, that we didn't get very serious emotionally because then we might never have realized what great friends each of us could be.

Throughout most of the rest of the semester, we remained friends. We still talked on the phone occasionally, still went to lunch together every now and then, and always had fun when we were together. She started going out with a guy that I was friends with, and even though I was a little jealous, I didn't let it get in the way of our friendship.

Then, on a droll wintry day, a Wednesday to be exact, came the worst surprise of my life. It started off as plain and ordinary as any other day of my life. As usual, she was sitting next me in class and being as cute and happy as ever. We had made casual plans with mutual friends to go out that Friday and have a good time. Like always, the dismissal bell rang, signifying it was time to wake up and leave the classroom. We both walked to my locker, which was the closer of the two, and said good-bye to each other. I wish I could have known that would be the last time that I would ever get a chance to talk to her. It was a Wednesday, so I had to evacuate the school quickly in the afternoon and rush up to Shopko in order to go to work. At around seven o'clock I was in Shopko's break room when a peer of mine, a rather annoying female, came upstairs and was crying. I didn't care for this girl at all, so I just kept on eating my chips and ignored her. Then she came and sat down next to me, which I didn't find to be all that comfortable. It was a few minutes before she slowly opened her mouth and poured out the situation she was dealing with. Instantly I felt as if my stomach was being torn out of me without the help of an anesthetic. The first thing I said was "You're lying! Why don't you shut the hell up! " I then rose from the table, slammed my chair to the ground, and left the break area. Immediately I went back to work and just kept thinking that the news was wrong, that it was all some sick joke. I just kept thinking over and over again that it was some fucked-up rumor, not at all uncommon in the halls of Shopko. I couldn't even bring myself to speak the word "suicide." I simply involved myself with the task of opening the boxes of a recent shipment and checking to make sure everything was accounted for. After about an hour, my boss came up to me and asked if I had heard the news. Without uttering a word, I nodded my head signifying a yes. He told me I could go home early if I wanted to, but I figured that working would be the best way to stop from thinking about it. The seconds seemed to pass like hours until it was time for me to go home. When I got home and opened the door, the house was cold and empty like the way I was feeling. There were numerous messages on the answering machine from friends, but I didn't want to talk so I simply sat around and contemplated the situation at hand. That night I couldn't sleep. I just sat in my bed and thought about what had happened, thinking somehow it couldn't be true.

The next morning I was slow to get up and get ready for school. As I got downstairs, my mother asked how my night at work was. That was when I told her the news; her face instantly became pale, and she sat down and started crying, something I still couldn't bring myself to do. That day at school was the worst experience anyone could be put through. A silence that just wouldn't stop screaming drowned the cafeteria, the hallways, and all the classrooms. I sat down with some of my friends, and none of them said a word until the bell rang signifying the start of the school day. We didn't get up and head to class like the other students; we just sat there and quietly asked how each of us were doing. After about fifteen minutes of sympathizing, we headed towards our lockers. That day the lights didn't seem quite as bright as usual, the laughter was absent from the halls, and the day just dragged on like an eternity of sorrow. As I wandered the hallways that day, I saw many people crying, and I couldn't understand it. Many of them weren't even friends with her! How could they feel so bad about this girl they hardly knew? I was friends with her, but was I acting like them? No, and why the hell not? Throughout the day I couldn't stop thinking about how or why it had happened. Despite being depressed about the entire situation, I still could not even bring myself to shed a tear of sorrow. I just couldn't handle being around all these people, so some friends and I just said, "Fuck it," and we took the rest of the day off, only to wind up going out to Lowell Park and getting drunk off a bottle of Jagermeister and talking about the great times we'd had with her. Later, after sorting through the various rumors that were circulating about her reasons for killing herself, I came to the conclusion that not one of them or even all of the rumors combined were substantial reasons not to have her with us anymore. So why did it have to happen that way?

As the song ends and a more upbeat song begins to play, I think about all the fun times we had together how glad I am just to have been friends with her. Now, the sadness that burdens me the most is the realization that most people don't truly love and appreciate human life until after it's gone. Underhile