A Perspective on a Death

It’s funny, you know, how some things work out. I knew a girl once. She was usually sort of quiet, and no one really noticed her….

Even when she bothered to try vainly to be noticed. Well, I found out that she’s not on this earth anymore. She died about two years ago. And I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I don’t think I knew her well enough to get in a bad mood, but I suppose I knew her as well as anyone. Maybe I should feel bad about it because I didn’t bother to know her better. Or maybe I should just disregard it because she didn’t bother to get to know me. But then again, maybe she did. She observed everyone and seemed to penetrate our souls and see inside us… All of us. Did anyone else notice that? I don’t know. Anyway, this is what happened, and how I came to find out…

A while ago, I met a girl by the name of Claire. She kept to herself and seemed to contain herself inside her own imagination. I rarely heard her speak. And even more rarely did I see her smile…. I think maybe that happened once, and only a small and weak little sarcastic smile when a teacher told her to “smile for once”, as he put it.
Anyway, she didn’t wear clothes that other people wore (and that was all that fucking mattered to us). Well, sometimes she might, but she didn’t put together outfits in the same way. To tell you the truth, she was kind of pretty. I’m not sure if it was her looks, or a sort of inner radiance that I think maybe only I saw. But she never got told that. It was like an unspoken rule that no one could ever compliment her, and, in fact, everyone had to torment her when they felt the smallest urge to. That urge came a lot to majority of the student population, even to me. I didn’t resist the urge and just yelled obscenities at her along with everyone else, and didn’t think much of it at the time. It seemed like the thing to do, and it didn’t ever occur to me that it might be wrong.
She started out with a few friends, or I thought she did. They slowly diminished, I don’t know how. But they just seemed to fade around her, until she stood alone. No more did she have anyone to even menially relieve the pain of the world around her. Never did I think to ask her if she was okay. And as time went on, I guess it would have gotten harder and harder to ask that, as I had been a help to the causing of the pain.
Well, to tell you the truth, I didn’t really think to be aware that the teasing and harassment would cause her pain back then. I admit that I suppose that I figured that she wouldn’t care, or… well that she just didn’t have feelings. She was too low to. Or something along those lines.
So it came as a surprise to me one day when I walked outside of my classroom one morning to get a drink of water and immediately retreated, for Claire was at her locker sobbing hysterically and hitting her head against whatever was closest. And in her frenzy, her sleeves inched up her arms. I then noticed that I had never seen her in short sleeves, save in gym. But there she just stayed in a corner, pretty much, and got yelled at occasionally by her teammates for not participating, but still just was generally ignored. At this point, though, I noticed something that I hadn’t seen before. There were scars and slashes on her arms and wrists…. All over them. I only got a glimpse of this, for even though she thought she was alone and she was having a breakdown, she rolled down her sleeves again. I suppose it had become a habit for her by then. Maybe a minute after this point, I saw two teachers walking down the hallway sternly, looking rather worried. She didn’t see them or even notice their presence. They came around onto either side of her and gently, yet firmly took grip of her arms. Much as she resisted, they insisted… And ended up in taking her down to the social worker. I didn’t see her again that day.
This little incident changed my attitude towards her for the day, and I felt that I could go against the grain and talk nicely to her if I saw her in the halls or a class I had with her. But my word was shattered and forgotten by the following day. I merely got to school and joined in mocking her. Maybe, just maybe, if I had spent just one day being kind to her. Just maybe… It wouldn’t have turned out like this. But it’s too late for me to say that now. I’ll never know what I was too weak to do.
One day she wasn’t in class. No one took notice…. Well, some did, but it was going, “Yes! Claire’s not here! Damn she’s so fucking gay!!”. I joined in on that, though I don’t know why. I didn’t ever notice that she had never done anything to us. She in fact had tried to show us kindness for a while. In the beginning I guess. Maybe she just gave up the fight and let us wash over her until she drowned. I suppose that’s one way you could put it…. Us drowning her. The world drowning her in hate.
She didn’t come in the next day, nor the next, or any day that week, in fact. No one really took notice. They hoped she might be gone for good. Possibly she had moved. It was our assurance when she didn’t come in the following week that she was gone. And we all rejoiced. I still don’t know why.
After about a month, people hadn’t completely forgotten her. No one showed or felt regret about her leaving, as far as I know. The only way in which I knew she wasn’t totally forgotten was that people sort of made her into a mocking thing. If some one did something dumb or acted differently in any way that was thought of as “bad”, a person might say, “that’s almost as gay as Claire!”…. Or something like that.
Suddenly, one day, the principal came over the loudspeaker. I don’t know why anyone decided to do it so openly. It gave her more toil, I think. But anyway, this is how the announcement went:
“Good afternoon, staff and students. We have had a tragic event happen, that I have been aware of for only a week or two now, but I feel it important for you to know. One of our students has committed suicide. Of the exact date I won’t say, it seems too personal for me to recognize to you. She obtained exceedingly excellent grades for the most part, and always got on well with her fellow students. It grieves me to know that she is gone. For you that do not know of whom I speak, it was Claire Higgins. Now I would like a few minutes of silent prayer for her.”
There was an uproar in my classroom. Not at all the kind that one would expect, for it was one of happiness. Even of triumph. For once, I didn’t join in. The memories of the gashes on her arms flooded back to me, and I was consumed in them. These barbarians, as I now saw them, were standing up and shouting about how she had finally done what she should have done a long time ago. And how she didn’t deserve to even talk to them. I finally realized that it was the other way around. Not that she ever even really talked to them at all in the first place…
I got up and walked out of the room. Everything seemed blurry to me, the voices muffled. The teacher stood up and started telling to me to get back in my seat, but I was in such a daze that I didn’t notice. Before I knew it, I was standing outside the Main Office along with two other students. I vaguely remember them telling me something about how they used to be close friends with Claire, but how they grew apart as time went by. I nodded then walked inside with them. It was clear to me now that we all wanted the same thing. They suddenly grew timid and looked ashamed when we walked up to the principal’s desk, so I stepped forward. After looking long and hard at the principal, and him looking at me, I asked for where her grave was. He told me that he knew where, but he believed that it should be private. I assured him that it would be, and pleaded with him to give me the placement of her body. Eventually he looked sternly over me, and sighed, giving me the name of the cemetery. I then shared it with the two girls that had been there, but with no one else. I don’t want to know what the rest of the student population would do to vandalize the one memory of her that was left.
I nodded at the girls and they left silently, going back to their classes. I turned in the other direction and headed for the main entrance of the school. Running down the steps, I saw the street below, filled with cars belonging to people who never knew Claire – like me. But it hadn’t been their fault, it hadn’t been my fault. …It had been my fucking fault. It’s my fault that she died. I ran faster.
Suddenly, I found myself standing before Oakwood Cemetery. I slowly made my way inside, and went to the hill where the principal had said I would find her stone. I finally reached it, and the dreaming state I had been in slipped and painfully slammed into the concrete-ness of reality.
There was a person kneeling at her grave. I observed him for a while, and he never noticed me – He never moved. I made my decision and went to him. He still did not look up, so I laid a hand on his shoulder. Violently, his head moved upward to stare at me. Gazing back, my eyes came upon a face I would never forget. He was well beyond tears. His eyes stared blankly out of their sockets, as if looking for a way to ease his pain. It moved me greatly that some one would care so much for just one person. One person who seemed before to me to have less than no value.
Though at first I could not bring myself to ask him, I needed to know. I asked him how it had happened. He answered in a hollow tone, a voice who’s owner had no more will to live.
She was home alone on a dark night. It was raining. Apparently she had always loved the rain. She was sitting on her window ledge listening to music. Her sister, who found her, had figured that she absentmindedly opened the window behind her and stood up, looking out into the darkness, as she often did. And then, well, the temptation just overcame her, and she jumped out. It was a three-story drop onto pavement.
He added, with a slight morbid grin, that she would not have died from that height if she had jumped in a regular fashion, but she was smart enough to plunge down headfirst.
My heart filled with terror. A distorted image of what I thought Claire might look like as a mangled corpse on the ground played continually through my mind. Absorbed in it, I crumpled to the ground before her tombstone. The boy left, and I was alone. Tears ran silently down my cheeks as I looked more closely at my surroundings. Tiny white flowers were springing up from the vibrant green grass. Her grave was a deep gray… but as I stared at it, I saw some writing that wasn’t engraved… It couldn’t have been vandalized… No, I’d have to protect this place from now on…
Curiosity took over. I inched closer and read the writing. “You were loved” were the words my mouth formed as I read the writing to myself. I stood and turned slowly in a circle. Some one out there took the time to know her, to love her. Why hadn’t I?

I regret my helping to cause Claire’s death every day of my life. It torments me…

The Bible states that suicide is wrong. In this case, I believe it wasn’t so. Nor that it was suicide. We murdered her. Claire’s blood is on the hands of all that knew and mocked her. Day by day, they killed her spirit more and more. Eventually, it was lost… And that night, there was nothing left to keep her body going. So, therefore, the physical part of her perished.

Maybe someday I can see her again. Possibly she’s happy and content where she is now. Maybe I can say I’m sorry… And ask if she’s willing to let me have another try at becoming her friend. Now that I know her more, I’m sure that she will. I’m sure that she’ll forgive me for being so naiive.

By dreams of glass

//Geisha deconstruct. (ask me if you're so curious about my life, darling.)