“Hey Dad, my car isn’t starting. I called the auto repair guy, and he said there’s something wrong with the engine,” I told my dad over the phone in the school parking lot. It was raining like I had never seen before, and I had seen plenty of rain in my life, after all, it was Washington.
“I’m sorry, honey. I can give you a ride home, but it wouldn’t be until four,” he replied.
I looked down at my watch; it was 2:07. “I think I’ll just walk home. It’ll only take me like twenty minutes.”
“Oh, okay then. Do you have an umbrella?” He asked.
“Yes,” I didn’t. I could’ve gotten sick, but I really didn’t care. I almost thought it would be better if I caught a cold. I wanted to go home, and lock my door forever. I stood there in the parking lot for at least three minutes, just letting the rain soak my face. I should’ve been mad my that my car was dead, but I wasn’t. To be quite honest, I felt indifferent. It didn’t matter how well my car worked. It could have been working completely fine. I still would have felt the same way.
I called my feelings indifferent mostly because I could never put an exact word them. I stood in the parking lot dead still until the stirring of the cross country runners awoke me from my haze. Right now, they were doing winter training. I would have been too if I hadn’t quit. I had told the head coach it was because of Junior stress, but I was well aware that wasn’t it.
I started on my way home. Each step felt like a journey. My head felt like it was carrying a ten pound load. I was in this unbreakable funk. I just wanted to get home. When I was crossing a street by the old deli, I accidently ran into a man. I didn’t notice he was there until after I ran into him.
“Hey, watch where you’re going!” He yelled at me with annoyance, but I really didn’t care. I didn’t even say sorry. I just kept walking.
I finally got to my house, and I walked through the white picket fences up the steps. At this point I was drenched in rain. I walked in, went to my room, pulled out my homework, took a look at it, then flung it on the carpet floor, and crawled into bed fully clothed. I just layed there, not bothering to eat dinner or brush my teeth. As I layed, I tried to feel something. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t. In that moment I finally pinpointed exactly what I felt. I felt utterly and completely numb.
It was 10:30 at night and I had just gotten home from swimming. I loved swimming, but it was tiring. I had done as much homework as I could while trying to eat my dinner, so it was almost midnight by the time I got into bed. Just as I shut my eyes, I heard my phone go off, and I debated whether I should get it because I knew who it was. After a few minutes of contemplating, I decided to look. I was right, Julia had texted me.
Julia: Hey can we talk.
Me: Sure what’s up?
I didn’t need to ask her that in all honesty because I already knew. I knew everything she was going to say before she said it. She said the same thing everytime. Whether or not she acted on it is a whole different story. Sometimes she did, sometimes she didn’t.
Julia: I’m just so done.
Me : With what?
Julia: With everything. With life.
I wanted to say something meaningful, but I couldn’t think of anything. I didn’t think anything I could say would actually help.
Me: Ur gonna be fine. It’s late. Get some sleep.
Julia: I’m sorry.
Me: For what?
She didn’t answer. I hated when she did that. What else could she have been doing? I didn’t know whether she had fallen asleep or was doing something harmful.
I heard my phone ring again, and took a sigh of relief.
Julia: I just feel bad that I’m putting you through all this. I should just be keeping it to myself.
Me: That’s not true. You shouldn’t keep it to yourself. And I’m fine.
That was a lie. I felt awful, and like I couldn’t do anything to help. After we talked I layed in bed because the rain was keeping me up. The rain was harsh. Harsher than I’d ever seen it before. I thought about Julia. Would it have be my fault if something happened? I’m not helping, and it just seems like it’s getting worse and worse. I have to do something, or tell someone.
A few minutes later my phone buzzed again.
Julia: I did it again.
I could feel my heart sink.
Lisa: What did you do?
That was the moment I knew had to tell someone. Thoughts swirled around in my head that now started to hurt. I thought if I told someone, she would be angry. I would be breaking the trust that I knew she so sorely needed, and relied on. I was afraid she would never speak to me again. But I decided I’d rather she hate me forever and be alive than not be here at all.
I pulled up to the parking lot, and at the same time my best friend since childhood, Lisa, was pulling in. I expected to see her grinning face that would light up mine only internally. We were very different, but we made our friendship work. Instead of seeing a smile, I saw a frown. I knew right there and then I should be getting mentally prepared for a long heartfelt conversation. I knew I couldn’t give the same amount of emotion she puts into these conversations, but I listen and give feedback.
“Miranda, will you come with me to go see Ms. Gillan today? It’s Julia. She’s getting worse. I don’t know what to do. I have to tell someone.”
“Lisa, I’m gonna be honest with you. You need to stop talking to her.” I truly did mean this. When Julia would struggle, Lisa would always think it was her job or responsibility to help, but it wasn’t.
“Miranda, she needs someone to talk to,” she said in defense.
“And who are you gonna talk to,” I said in retaliation.
“What does that mean?” Her face was almost confused looking.
“Maybe if you haven’t noticed, but it isn’t good for you. You have to listen to Julia talk nonstop about how terrible she feels, and you have the burden of keeping it.”
“I’m trying to help.”
I knew she was gonna fight me on this no matter what. No matter how many truths I tell her she just wouldn’t understand.
“Listen, I’m aware of Julia’s problem. I know how bad it is. I’ll go with you to talk to Ms. Gillan. We can go right now if you want.”
“Let me finish. I know you’re trying to help, but you also need to help yourself.”
She looked at me with a sad, but telling face. I almost thought for a second when she looked at me that she thought I was right, but the instant was gone, just like that. We walked out of the parking lot and onto the campus. She looked as if she was about to ask me a question, but stopped herself. “What is it?”
“Julia used to talk to you about it, right? Why’d she stop?”
As much as I didn’t want to answer that question, I didn’t want to lie to Lisa. “I care about her, and I’m worried. It’s just a lot Lisa. It got overwhelming at times, so I stopped.”
Silence fell upon the two of us once again. We walked until we got to the door of Ms. Gillan’s room. Looking at Lisa, and saw her head turn the other way. Lisa was always a nice person. I almost thought she was too nice at times. She’d never want anyone to be sad or unhappy. Unfortunately, that is an impossible task.
After a long period of sitting in Mr. Henley’s math class, the bell finally rang. I was trying to find my friend Julia. I had just found out some alarming things about her a couple days ago. I had been trying to think of what I was going to say, and I wanted to be supportive, but not overbearing. To be honest, I was fighting the urge to be mad. The way I found was less than ideal. First of all it hadn’t been from her. It had been from another one of our more talkative friends. I wasn’t sure how she knew, and really didn’t care. She had also told me that she was mostly talking to Lisa about it. I was puzzled when she told me that. I knew Lisa and Julia were close friends, but not “share every detail of your life” close. I was her best friend, so I was confused about why I didn’t know. So many thoughts went through my head. “Does she not trust me? Are we not as close as I thought? Why would’ve she tell me.”
I walked out into the pouring rain trying to search for her. I made my way to building eight because that’s where her next period was. As soon as I was there it wasn’t hard to find her. She was the only one in the school wearing a bright neon yellow sweatshirt. She looked dead, and her eyes looked broken.
“Hey Jules,” I said.
“What’s up, Marty?”
“Oh, nothing much. I’m just about done with Mr. Henley’s crap.”
“Sounds about right.” She said all this trying to sound meaningful, but it came off a distant. Like she wasn’t really there. It became quiet. Her face turned sour almost as she could since why it was silent. It was like she knew what I was gonna before I was gonna say it.
“I’ve heard I should be concerned about you,” I said.
“Marty, I don’t want to talk about this right now.” She began to walk away, but I put my hand out to stop her. “You know I’m gonna support you no matter what right?”
“Then why won’t you talk to me! I’ve known you for six years, and I’m your best friend. You talk to Lisa about it all the time, why not me?”
She sighed and began to speak, “The reason I don’t talk to you about isn’t because I don’t trust you. Sometimes it’s harder to tell the people closest to you about things that hurt.” She took a long pause. “I have to get to Ms. Gillan’s class. I’ll tell her you said hi.”
She walked straight past my arm and through the metal doors. I stood in place for a minute. I had never thought about it like that. It still hurt that she didn’t tell me, but I had a little more compassion and understanding for I knew you would probably do the same.
It had already been a hectic week. Jason Burk had cussed me out, Nick Waller had jumped on the desks earlier this week, I really think it couldn’t have gotten worse. As usual, I was proven wrong. Julia Green was what was wrong. Unlike the other obstacles of this week, this was not something I couldn’t give detention for. This was something that was close to my heart. She was in my homeroom, and I knew her freshman year.
She was a good student who never let her grades drop. She would occasionally make a few too many snarky jokes or sarcastic comments, but it was part of her personality. I knew she was good a person. When two of my other students, Lisa and Miranda, came to me and told me what was going on I was a little surprised. In my head at the time I thought I could fix it, I thought I could help. So I emailed her to meet me during my planning period. I contacted the counselor, and she said to ease her into telling her that she needed to be brought to my office. When Julia walked into my classroom, and I told her I had to take her to the office she didn’t react well.
“No… Nope… No way,” she said starting to walk away.
I stopped her, “Julia, listen to me. You need to see someone, and-.”
“Who even told you?”
I didn’t want to say, but I knew she wasn’t going to budge if I didn’t tell her. “Lisa came, and told me. She also showed me some texts.”
What I saw on her face can only be described as rage.
“I’m gonna kill her.”
“No, you’re not,” I said with a small chuckle mixed with a sigh of frustration. “If our roles were reversed, you would do the same thing.”
“Actually, I wouldn’t.”
We began to walk to the counselor’s office. Julia stooped walking for a second, and I tried to urge her along. “Don’t touch me,” she said in a hostile voice.
I took a few steps back. “You know Julia, I went through some stuff like this when I was your age. It will get better.” I said trying to walk the line between being comforting, and doing my job as a teacher. Neither of us spoke after that. We just walked into the offices, and sat down in chairs. A few minutes later the counselor, Janet Wiler, walked in.
It was the longest thirty minutes of my life. I couldn’t even imagine how it felt for Julia. Everytime the counselor would ask a question, it took at least a minute for her to answer back. All I could do was sit back and watch. I wanted to help, I wanted to do something, but I couldn’t. I was only a teacher, I had no power in this.
It was history class and I felt guilty. I felt like I had done something wrong, but at the same time I felt somewhat of a weight lifted off my shoulders. For the first time in a long time I felt like Julia was going to be okay. Maybe not right away, and maybe it will take time. But it was going to be okay, and for that split second that was all I cared about.
We had a substitute for the time being, and everyone was wondering why. I knew why she wasn’t there though. About halfway through class Ms. Gillan walked in. “Thank you, Mr. Gladstone, for taking over on such short notice,” she said to him. They exchanged a few words that I couldn’t quite make out before he left.
“Where were you?” The kid sitting behind me asked.
“Nowhere of importance.” She replied, and looked at me for a second. All I could do was avert my eyes.
We continued on with the lesson the substitute was trying to teach to us. About fifteen minutes in, Julia walks in. During others classes, she would always walk in, and smile at me. Today when she walked in forty-five minutes into class, she didn’t even look at me. It was almost as if she purposefully avoided me at all costs. She sat down beside me without saying a word. Her face looked angry, but her eyes had sadness in them. My stomach crumbled in on itself.
I started to write on a piece of paper then held it up to her.
Are you okay?
All I got back was a glare. After a few seconds she started to speak. “Do you know what you did?” Her voice sounded cold. I wrote again.
I held it up, but the bell rang. She got up and left faster than I had ever seen her. I wasn’t even sure if she saw it. I walked out of the building hoping the rain had passed. It hadn’t. I saw Julia getting into her dad’s car; I went off in the other direction. I didn’t like what happened, but I knew this was how it had to be.
I hated myself for being mean to Lisa. I couldn’t believe she would do that. “This is why you keep things to yourself,” I thought. I didn’t mean what I said, I was just caught in the moment. I find myself being that way more often now, and not in a good way. I slumped my way to the car. After Ms. Gillan had left, my mom had arrived. That was ultimately less pleasing than it already had been. I got in the car, and it was silent.
About halfway through the car ride I realized I forgot all my books for class. Old me would have turned the car around and grabbed it, but the old me was dead, or more so hidden. I didn’t care if they my books were there or at home. It wasn’t my problem. I didn’t want to think about school or anything for that matter, but because I didn’t want to think of anything, I thought of everything all at once. My head started to hurt. I wasn’t sure if it actually hurt, or if I was just imagining it. I leaned back in the car chair as if I was going to sleep. Suddenly we were pulled over, and the music was shut off.
I heard a noise coming from the left. It was crying. I looked over to my left and the sight of my tear filled mom made my stomach turn in ways I never thought possible. I looked away to face the outside. We were at a stop light, and I tried to find anything that would take me out of this situation.
By the time we arrived at my house, I was trying to hold back tears. I dreaded the thought of facing my dad. There were a lot of scary people in this world, but none scared me more than the man himself. I wanted to run, but I was too unaware to go anywhere but straight into my house. My dad gave wet-eyed mom a hug which rarely happened. My mom left the room and I sat down. My dad remained standing. I thought he was gonna yell. My body clenched up in fear waiting for the inevitable. “You’re mother told me you were scared to tell me?”
I opened my eyes. He didn’t use his usually rough voice. He used a voice I had only heard two other times in my life. There was a hint of scared in it. “Yes.”
“You don’t have to be. I might get upset and yell about some stupid things, but not things like this. Not important things. You know even I went through fazes like this when I was your age. We will get through this. Your mom and I love you, and you will always be able to talk to us.”
All my fear about that conversation was washed away in a few short sentences. We hugged, and I left the room. As I sat at my desk, I remembered I left my books at school. “Crap!” I exclaimed. I knew the journey from here wasn’t going to be easy. None of it, but for the first time I didn’t feel alone. I felt that maybe all of what had happened was for the best.
Many people have asked what my thoughts are about the rain. I always answer them the same way. “It passes.”