Amy Wilson

Lonely Memories


          I step outside drawing in a deep breath of a cool lake breeze. The late summer sun cuts through the chill of the breeze, and I enjoy the contrast of warm and cool against my pale, fair skin. I walk lazily through the well kept lawn to the green and white striped hammock, laying down I close my eyes and let the sunlight dance across my eyelids. My body feels relaxed, comfortable, but my mind refuses to rest. I’m at a crossroads in my life. I am not old enough to label it a midlife crisis, as I continue to search for the answers I cannot find. I try my hardest to focus on the unmade decisions that flaunt themselves in front of me, reminding me of the current upheaval in my life, but instead my mind wonders to the past I cannot change.

            So many memories flood my thoughts at once, it’s like the past is a fog blinding me from my future. Some of those memories are hazy and I struggle to remember the most simple of details. However, other memories have left a scar on my heart, and therefore remain as clear as the vibrant clear waters of the Bahamas. And as the sunlight continues to dance across my eyelids, creating vivid stirring patterns, I can’t help but shiver as one memory keeps standing out above the rest.

            It was late May, nearly five years ago. The day had begun sunny and breezy, quickly warming the air around me, or perhaps the warmth came from the red polyester gown I was donning. In just a few short hours (the kind that seem as though they may never end) I would have my whole life in front of me, limitless possibilities waiting for me to discover them. As me and other graduates lined up outside the theater waiting to be herded in to begin our march into adulthood, official adulthood, the breeze seemed to pick up into a full out wind. The first half of the alphabet had already been filed into the theater’s lobby when the wind blew dark ominous looking clouds in front of the sun. The warmth was instantly gone. Shit! It was going to pour buckets and N-Z, myself included, were still standing outside! The teachers managed to get us in as the first fat drops began to fall. I was relieved I would not have to sit through the ceremony soaked to the bone, and that was the only thought that crossed my mind. But when I think about that day now, I should have seen those horrendous clouds as foreshadow. Foreshadow that this adulthood we were crossing into was not as golden as it appeared.

            That night I celebrated first by dinner with my family and later with my friends. That would be the last night I would see Maggie. A large group of us newly graduated high school students decided to go to the beach, once the rain had cleared out the sun had returned and warmed the air to temperatures even higher than before the ceremony. We were all adults now, and as adults we decided going to a beach with no lifeguard was not a big issue, if anything we were excited for the privacy it seemed to ensure. Some of us swam in the lake and others sat around a fire as the sun set on the horizon creating vibrant hues of orange and pink. Even the fire seemed dull in comparison. Darkness seemed to settle in quickly after the sun set, and I remained close to the fire uninterested in swimming. Maggie, my best friend since fourth grade would tug at my arm insisting I go in for just a few minutes with her and others, but I have always been a stubborn person and refused to move an inch. Finally, Maggie went in without me, her long dark curls gently swaying behind her as she jogged towards the water’s edge. It seemed that since the bold darkness of the night sky had taken over that the waves had come to life, roaring against the sand, and inviting only those brave enough to face them. Maggie was certainly the person brave enough, before she entered the water she turned to wave and flash me a quick grin that seemed to say, “you know I got this!” I did not worry about a lifeguard not being on duty; Maggie was a wonderful athlete, swimming her specialty, but I was young and simply unknowing of how strong rip currents could get in the lake. I watched with amusement as Maggie and the others in the lake splashed around like children in a pool, laughing and giggling. Maggie and another girl were wrestling each other while atop a couple of guys’ shoulders when the other girl won, knocking Maggie into the water. As the wrestling match had gone on, the night had somehow managed to become darker, and I squinted trying to see Maggie appear above the water’s surface, but instead what I heard was panic from one of the guys. I did not see Maggie because she had not appeared from under the water. I stood quickly to me feet, unsure if the dizziness I felt was from standing too fast, or from the thought that I was watching my best friend drown before my eyes. I tried to shout to the ones still in the lake to find her, save her, but it was as if my tongue had swollen too large for my mouth and prevented my voice from being heard. I thought I was going to choke on my tongue. Die on the sandy shores of Lake Erie just as my friend was dying in her waters.

            The others in the lake managed to get out, everyone but Maggie. They never found her body. For weeks after the accident I would awake in the middle of the night covered in sweat from the nightmares that seemed too real. I would dream I was walking the shores of the lake when suddenly I would come across Maggie’s dead body, seagulls pecking at what was left of her eyeballs.

            Five years later, as I lay on the hammock now nearly convulsing I am shivering so bad I know I have never fully gotten over Maggie’s death. I knew she would have wanted me to live my life as planned, but I just could not continue on my planned path. Instead of college I bounced from job to job barely staying sober long enough to see the disappointment me in my parents’ eyes. Even now on this hammock alone I’m not sure why my parents never kicked me out, or forced me into therapy. And as the breeze grows even chillier, a dark cloud covering up the sun much like it had five years ago, I know there are realities I need to face, decisions I need to make, but I am too much a coward to do any of this without help from my best friend. I slowly rise then from the hammock and saunter over to the garden shed. I pull a sharp pair of shears from inside and head back towards the hammock. I place the tip of the shears against my neck, look up to the uninviting sky and whisper, “Maggie I’m coming for your opinion.”

            A sudden clap of thunder startles me though, and I drop the shears at my feet, just barely missing all the little piggies. I sigh; knowing I was never going to go through with it, and relieved I had not lost a toe in my flare for the dramatics. My life was unpleasant enough without walking around with a permanent gimp.

            I stumble back towards the house, still shaken by how vivid the memory of Maggie’s death was today, and argue with myself that one day I will actually go through with my thought of suicide, and end this never ending fight with the demons of my pass. The demons that tell me I should have stopped Maggie from going into the water that day. The demons that tell me it should have been me, not Maggie that died because Maggie had more to live for with her life than I did with mine. One day I am sure I will end this war, and silence those pests once and for all, but today is not the day. Today I will go to my room, shred to pieces more pictures of me and Maggie while listening to the rain pound steadily against the house. And when I can no longer feel my fingertips from the ripping, and tearing, I will blast some random screeching rock song, loud enough to hide my muffled cries.