I Will Wait for You
By Curtis Grace
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She was most definitely disturbed. The slow, bass-laced rhythms of her favorite hip-hop CD sounded through her stereo as she handled the small pistol her mother carried in her purse. She had a good life, a dedicated boyfriend, a healthy social life, and a successful career on the High School Varsity Basketball team. But for some reason she was still unhappy. For the last three months she had become depressed, and her thoughts had begun to be jumbled. She thought she was losing her boyfriend, even though they had happy relationship. She was slowly losing her mind, losing all rationalization. She had trouble discerning a wandering thought from an actual event. She couldn’t make sense of anything. It was all confusing to her, and she desired more than anything for everything to once again make sense to her. The small revolver had fallen out of her mother’s bag, and for some reason she had taken it. Unaware that she even knew how to use the weapon, she cocked the hammer back and stuck the barrel in her mouth.
His phone rang at one o’clock in the morning. He groggily turned on his bedside light and reached for his cell phone. He pressed the talk button and muttered a tired “Hello?” into the phone. On the other end, his girlfriend’s mother was hysterical, saying things that implied that Aaron was hurt, or something had happened. But He couldn’t make any sense of it. It was just a whole bunch of jumbled words. He finally promised he would come over immediately.
He quickly threw on a shirt, some pants and his shoes. He grabbed his wallet, keys, and phone and headed to the garage, not bothering to wake up his parents to explain where he was going. He opened the door to his 1998 Jeep Cherokee before jumping in and backing out. He headed down the street and took off towards Aaron’s house.
When he arrived at Aaron’s house, there were two police cars parked in the street, and an ambulance pulled up on the front lawn. He parked the Jeep a little bit down the street and ran to the house, where Aaron’s mother paced around the yard. She ran over to him when she saw him.
“Ron! I’m so sorry. It’s all my fault, I don’t know how she got it, but she used it, and, and I’m sorry,” said Aaron’s mother hurriedly and incoherently. He couldn’t make any sense out of what she was saying. He tried unsuccessfully to get the story out of her. He excused himself and approached one of the cops at the scene.
“Sir, my name’s Ron Wallace, and that lady over there is my girlfriend’s mother. She’s quite messed up sir, and she keeps going on about something, but I can’t quite figure out what it is. Can you fill me in on the situation?” asked Ron respectfully.
“I’m sorry son, but if your girlfriend is-or was the daughter of that woman, you’re in for a big surprise. Her daughter just took her mother’s gun and shot herself. She’s dead son. I’m sorry. If you’d like to speak with someone, we have a psychiatrist coming out for the mother,” suggested the cop, but Ron was too stunned to answer him. He quietly thanked the officer and walked off, towards his Jeep.
As he closed the door and started to reach for the ignition, the phone rang. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the cell phone. He answered it.
“Hello? Ron? This is Jamie. There’s something going on at Aaron’s house. There’s a couple cop cars and an ambulance out there. Do you know anything?” asked Jamie Roberts.
“Jamie, you’d better meet me in your driveway. We need to talk,” was all Ron could say. Jamie agreed and hung up the phone.
Ron got out of his jeep and walked up the road. Jamie lived about four houses down from Aaron’s house, so he walked.
Jamie was one of Ron’s friends from school. She wasn’t one of his best friends, but they knew each other pretty well. She was a friend with Aaron, but mainly because they lived so close together. They weren’t extremely close, but they knew each other. Jamie was a fun loving, rock loving, quiet girl who enjoyed the company of close friends as well as a trip to the mall. She dated occasionally, but never seriously. She was the girl no one really noticed.
As soon as she saw Ron approaching the driveway, she knew something was terribly wrong. She ran out to meet him. His head was low, and his expression was that of complete shock. He looked up when he saw her coming.
“What happened?” asked Jamie.
“She’s-, she’s gone,” said Ron quietly.
“Gone? Like run away, kidnapped, what?” asked Jamie, even more curious. Down the street a black body bag rolled out of the house and into the ambulance.
“No. Gone, as in dead. She shot herself,” said Ron, still in total shock.
“Oh, my God!” exclaimed Jamie, her hand moving to her mouth. She stood there in shock for a few seconds, and then looked at Ron’s face. He was utterly destroyed. His entire world was decimated with one swift blow. He felt responsible.
“Oh, no you don’t. This was not your fault,” said Jamie quickly.
Ron threw down a gum wrapper and turned around, heading back towards his Jeep.
“Ron? You’re not driving home, are you?” asked Jamie. Ron turned back around and nodded.
“No, you’re not. You’re getting a ride from someone. You won’t make it home in that state,” said Jamie bluntly.
“No, I guess not,” said Ron, turning around and walking towards his Jeep.
“Ron! Give me your keys. I’m driving you home,” said Jamie.
Ron shrugged and pulled them out of his pocket. Without turning to face her, he threw her the keys and continued walking towards the Jeep. Jamie ran to catch up with him.
When they reached the car she opened the driver’s door and climbed in. Ron went around to the other side of the vehicle and climbed in. Jamie started the engine and pulled out into the street, leaving the scene behind.
Word spread quickly of the suicide. Ron didn’t show up at school the next day, and in his absence, rumors grew within the confines of the high school. Jamie went to school, and she heard it all. Students blamed Ron, drugs, alcohol, her family and even her dog. But they really wondered what had made this seemingly happy person turn the gun on herself. No note had been found, and the mother was useless in helping with the problem. She was in a mental hospital receiving treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Ron visited a Psychiatrist a few times, and each time she told him he was perfectly fine. And Ron felt better. The initial shock had worn off, but he was still depressed. Every day, Jamie called when she got home from school to check on him. Other people called too. His friend Chris called and talked to him too. Ron soon felt it was time to return to school.
After three days of absence, Ron returned to the high school. As soon as he entered the building, it grew silent. People knew the story, and everybody had their own twist. As he passed by them, they whispered their own interpretation. He attended all of his classes and did his work, but couldn’t help but stare at the empty seat in each of his classes.
At lunch, he picked a table far away and sat by himself. He was not in the mood to hang out with his friends. He just wanted to eat.
Jamie saw him sit down and slowly begin to eat his lunch. She picked up her tray and made her way over to him.
Ron saw her heading towards him. He took notice of the fact she had been extremely supportive in the last few days. He didn’t pay attention as she sat in front of him.
“Those two chairs should be occupied,” he said, looking at the table where he and Aaron usually sat.
“Come on Ron. Alienating yourself from everything isn’t going to help. You lost her, but you still have friends that care. They want to be there for you, but you won’t let them. Just be yourself, just like if she was still here,” said Jamie.
“One problem with that idea, Jamie,” said Ron.
“Oh, Yeah? What’s that?” asked Jamie.
“She’s not still here,” replied Ron.
Jamie leaned back. He was still hurting. He barely lifted his eyes from his plate and hardly touched his food. Instead, he drew on a napkin.
“Alright. Now you’re making me feel depressed,” said Jamie sternly.
Ron looked up.
“You mean you weren’t sad before?” asked Ron.
“Everybody was, and still is, sad. But I’ll tell you what, Ron. You’ve taken sadness to a whole new level. I understand your loss, but you have got to snap out of it,” said Jamie.
Ron was motionless for a few moments, and then resumed doodling on the napkin. After a few moments, he raised his head.
“You know, Jamie, you have been so supportive these last few days. You call every day, and then you take time out of your lunch to sit by me while the rest of my friends feel sorry for me. Any other situation and I’d have asked you out already,” remarked Ron.
Jamie was taken aback, but didn’t show it. She hadn’t realized that it seemed like she was coming on to him. She liked him, but not at that level. Even if she had, she never would have stooped so low as to go out with him right after his girlfriend died.
“Yeah, that’s funny Ron. The last thing you need is another date right now. You need friends, and that’s what you’ve got. You’ve got me, and Chris, and everybody else. Don’t ever doubt them, Ron. They’ll always be there for you,” replied Jamie.
Ron nodded and put his pen away. He stuffed the napkin into his pocket and took his tray to the trashcan. As he walked towards it, the napkin fell out of his pocket. Jamie looked around, then leaned over and picked it up. It was a picture of a girl. At a closer glance, she realized it was Aaron, and that there was actually another girl, barely visible behind her. It was Jamie.
Ron was the last person out of the fifth period English class. As he turned down the hall towards his locker, he noticed a familiar face standing by his locker. It was his best friend, Chris Raines.
“Hey, man. What’s up?” asked Ron.
“Not much, well, actually that’s not true. Listen, can you wait for me by your jeep after school? I’ve got something I want to show you,” said Chris.
“Yeah, sure. What’s this about?” asked Ron.
Chris sighed and replied, “It’s about Jamie.”
Ron nodded and turned to his locker. Chris turned and walked off.
Ron reached into his pocket and removed his keys as he pushed open the door and headed for the junior parking lot. As he approached his jeep, he saw Chris leaning against the hood, a manila envelope in his hand.
“Hey, Chris,” said Ron, stopping in front of his friend.
“I thought you might like to look at this,” said Chris, handing him the folder.
Ron immediately took the folder and opened it. Inside was the single page autopsy report from the coroner’s office.
“What’s this?” asked Ron.
“It’s the autopsy report. Aaron had a tumor in her brain, which had recently begun to spread. It was slowly choking out the oxygen, and her brain wasn’t working right. According to the coroner’s notes, she was slowly dying. She just pushed the process ahead about a month,” explained Chris.
“You mean, she was dying the whole time? How long?” asked Ron, holding back tears.
“According to the report, the tumor had appeared about five months ago, and began to spread rapidly in the last month and a half. She didn’t know what she was doing, dude. It’s not anybody’s fault,” said Chris.
“Two questions, Chris. Why did you show me this, and how on earth did you get it?” asked Ron. Chris had a way of finding things out and digging things up. Whenever he turned up information like this, it was best not to ask.
“I’ll answer your first question. I did it ‘cause you needed a crutch. You are blaming yourself and in reality it’s nobody’s fault. And I thought it would help a little. Not much, but maybe enough to help you move on,” said Chris.
“Well, you’re right, it doesn’t help much. But thank you so much, because it does help a little,” said Ron. He gave Chris a hug and said goodbye before jumping in his jeep and speeding off.
From across the parking lot, she saw Ron hop into his Jeep and speed off. She also saw Chris walking towards her. She continued towards her car until Chris caught up with her.
“What was that all about?” asked Jamie.
“What?” asked Chris.
“What’d you say to him?” she asked.
“I gave him the autopsy results that showed a tumor in Aaron’s brain. It was cutting off oxygen, and would have killed her in a month anyway,” said Chris.
“Oh. How’d he react?” asked Jamie.
“Really well. I think it helped a lot,” said Chris, “but maybe you should talk to him when you get the chance.”
“Why?” asked Jamie.
“Because he listens to you, and he feels comfortable around you,” said Chris, “and I don’t think he’s ready to be that way around me.”
“Why wouldn’t he be? You’re his best friend?” asked Jamie.
“I’m also a guy. Just talk to him, okay?” asked Chris.
Jamie nodded and continued towards her car.
Ron stopped the Jeep in the driveway of Aaron’s house. It was vacant, he knew, because Aaron’s mom was in the mental hospital. Ron turned off the car and pulled the keys out of the ignition. He searched through his key ring and found the key he was looking for.
Ron slid the key into the doorknob and unlocked Aaron’s front door. He opened the door and slowly closed it behind him.
As Jamie turned onto her street, the first thing she noticed was Ron’s red Jeep parked in Aaron’s driveway. He wasn’t in it. Jamie sighed and pulled in next to his Jeep.
She found the front door unlocked. She looked around downstairs, but Ron was nowhere to be seen. She started up the stairs.
He stared at the room. It was in utter chaos. The bed sheets were piled on her bed, clothes were thrown about the room. Pictures and yearbooks and other items were on the bed and floor. The sheets were gone, taken by Police as evidence. A dark red stain on the mattress marked the spot where Aaron had fallen. He turned away from the bed and looked at her shelves. He saw his photo, which was surrounded by several gifts he had given her since they had started dating. He continued to look around her room, just taking everything in.
Jamie peeked into Aaron’s bedroom. Ron was walking along the walls, picking things up and looking at them. He stopped at her desk and took a seat. Jamie leaned against the doorframe and remained silent.
Ron opened the top drawer of the desk and removed a small lock-box. He set it on top of the desk and reached to the side of the desk. He retrieved a small key and unlocked the box. He opened the lid and carefully searched through the contents. He removed three square pieces of paper and placed them in his coat pocket. He then placed another piece in the box and locked it back, replacing everything where he had found it. He stood up and scanned the desk. He reached across the desk and grabbed something.
Jamie stepped into the room, loudly, to make her presence known. Ron whipped around and almost fell down.
“Geez, Jamie. You ‘bout gave me a heart attack. What are you doing here?” he asked.
“I saw your Jeep. What are you doing?” she asked.
“Finishing some last minute good-byes,” he replied, heading for the door.
Jamie stepped aside and allowed him to pass.
Jamie and Ron descended the stairs and left the house, locking the door behind them. Once outside, Ron took a seat on one of Aaron’s lawn chairs. Jamie quietly sat in the other.
“God, It’s so hard,” said Ron leaning his head back, looking to the sky.
“I can’t imagine,” said Jamie, looking at the ground.
“You know, that’s the first time I’ve entered that house or room without Aaron? Every memory I have of that house involves her. Heck, just about every memory from these last two years involves her. It’s like being reborn, starting from scratch,” said Ron, looking at Jamie.
“I know, it’s hard,” was all Jamie could say.
“For the first time in a long time I don’t know what to do. I’m clueless,” said Ron.
“Well, if you don’t know what to do, what do you think Aaron would do?” asked Jamie.
Ron sat forward and leaned his elbows against his knees, resting his head in his hands. He slowly looked up at Jamie.
“Well, she would definitely cry, like I have, and she would do a lot of thinking. I’ve done that too. But, I don’t think she would wander aimlessly for the rest of her life. I think she would find some creative way to get over it. Something that helps everybody else just as much as it helps her,” said Ron quietly, fighting back tears.
“Like what?” asked Jamie.
“What are you now? A Psychiatrist?” said Ron, smiling. Jamie laughed.
“Hmm. She loved music, like I do. Not the same music. But I think she’d do something like that, or a poem or I don’t know something like that. Are you going tomorrow?” asked Ron, changing the subject to the funeral.
“Yeah, actually. Me and everyone else are skipping school and going. So is everybody else in the school almost. It’s gonna be a pretty crowded funeral,” said Jamie.
“Wait! Hold that thought! Listen, call all those people and tell them not to come to the funeral. Tell them I’ve got a better idea. I’ll call you tonight,” said Ron, jumping out of the chair and running to his Jeep.
“You want me to call over a hundred people?” yelled Jamie, standing up.
“NO! Call more! Wait,” said Ron, pausing a second, “call them after I call you, and also email them, put up flyers at school too. I’ll give you all the info later, just trust me.”
And with that, he hopped in his Jeep and took off. Jamie sighed and ran to her own car.
Ron had barely stopped his Jeep in his driveway before he was out of the car and running towards the front door. He threw the door open and closed it behind him. His mother peered around a corner as he entered the house.
“Hey, hon. I got your tux, it’s up in your room,” she said.
“Thanks mom, but I’m not wearing the tux tomorrow. I’m wearing my blue suit,” said Ron of the blue dress suit he had received when his grandfather died. He ran up the stairs as his mother shrugged and returned to the kitchen.
He threw open his bedroom door and quickly settled behind his desk. He opened a drawer and pulled out a sheet of paper. He picked up a pencil and began to write feverishly.
Three hours later, Ron arched his back and looked down at the poem. It was almost a page long, and full of erase marks. The final product was very good, and he knew it would sound good tomorrow. But he felt he needed something else. He lazily turned on his radio to his favorite rock station and settled down onto his couch.
As he sat and relaxed on the couch, he noticed a familiar song come on the radio. He sat up and listened to the words. He remembered the words to the song and began to mutter them to himself as they played through his speakers. He smiled and picked up his cell phone.
The crowd in the Baptist church slowly crowded into the sanctuary and took their seats as soothing, but depressing, organ music echoed between the walls. To the side of the pulpit sat three microphones, a drum set, an acoustic guitar, and an electric guitar. Everyone also wore black. Black dresses, suits, shits, hats, and even purses all matched each other. Even Ron’s three friends wore all black. But Ron wore a blue suit with a red shirt.
The mood was solemn and sad as the various relatives and the pastor spoke. Her mother, temporarily released from the hospital tried to give a testimony but broke down and was escorted out by two nurses. Ron, sitting on the end, stepped out in front of her and gave her a hug before she was taken back to the hospital.
It was soon Ron’s turn. He casually walked up to the pulpit and unfolded the poem. He casually looked out at the crowd and read his poem. The testament to Aaron captivated the congregation and brought tears to Ron’s eyes as her read it. Each line was harder to read than the next, until he was finally able to utter the last line:
“And now I let her go, I’m free”
Sobs were barely audible in the crowd as Ron replaced the poem in his pocket and stepped over to the electric guitar. His three friends took their places next to him.
Ron sighed and started the intro to the song. It was a song that had been a one-hit wonder by the Verve Pipe, called ‘Freshmen’. It was about suicide, and the singer moving on and removing blame from himself.
As Ron and his friends sang on, Jamie was astounded how well the words to this word fit. Ron was really felling the song as he played and sang, and Jamie knew it was from the heart. He was slowly letting her go.
When Ron and the band were finished, they silently replaced their instruments and returned to their seats. The pastor gave the final blessing, and the congregation was dismissed.
Ron, Jamie and Ron’s friends quickly exited the church and piled into Ron’s Jeep. Theirs was the first vehicle out of the parking lot.
The city park was swarming with teenagers. They all sat in a field, eating picnic lunches, playing pickup games of soccer, football and basketball, and gathering with friends. In the back of the festivities sat a memorial to Aaron. Flowers, letters and gifts piled around pictures of her. Ron sat on a picnic table at the back, near the memorial and watched as every single person paid his or her respects to Aaron. Nearly a hundred and fifty teens had shown up.
Jamie found her way over to Ron and took a seat across from him.
“Wow, Jamie. How did you get everyone to show up? You didn’t really call everyone did you?” asked Ron.
“Well, some of my friends helped, but yeah. I’m sorry we couldn’t do any better, but…” began Jamie.
“No, it’s perfect. Nothing fancy, just a bunch of people coming out to say goodbye. That’s all I wanted. Thanks a lot Jamie,” said Ron sincerely. Jamie merely nodded.
Ron was the last one to leave. He had stayed after everyone left and helped Park workers pick up the small amount of trash that had been left. He threw a sheet of plastic over the memorial and headed to his Jeep. As he did so, he noticed Jamie in the passenger seat, asleep. He opened the door quietly and started the engine.
“Wait. Don’t go yet,” said Jamie, sitting up and looking at Ron.
“Okay,” said Ron, turning off the engine.
She leaned across the seat and gave him a big hug, which soon turned to tears. Not his, but her tears as she cried for the first time in front of him. He encouraged her to let it out before she pulled back and wiped her nose.
“You okay?” he asked.
“Yeah, it’s just that I’m always trying to support you, and all the time I was hurting too. I just couldn’t show it,” said Jamie.
Ron liked her. He had always liked her, but now he liked her as more than just a dependable friend. She was so much like Aaron in so many ways.
Ron stopped himself from that train of thought. If he was ever going to date again, he had to stop comparing everyone to Aaron. He liked Jamie because of Jamie, not Aaron. But he couldn’t jump into a relationship this soon. He smiled and turned the engine on.
Jamie had seen his expression. She knew he had feelings for her, but he wouldn’t come out. Neither would she. It was too soon for the both of them. They both needed time to heal before starting something new. But Jamie was patient, and she knew it would take patience.
When the Jeep stopped in front of her house she quietly thanked Ron and stepped out. Ron watched her until she was in the door before continuing home.
As Ron opened his door to get out, he noticed something in the passenger seat. It was a white piece of paper with something written on it.
I WILL WAIT FOR YOU
Ron smiled. Jamie knew. But he knew she would have to wait. He couldn’t even come close to dating anyone this soon. He prayed silently to Aaron and thanked her for the best two years of his life. He pulled his wallet out and put the piece of paper in it before closing the door and locking the Jeep. As he walked to his front door, a smile crossed his face at the prospect of seeing Jamie tomorrow.