Today's July 12th. I survived the one-year anniversary of my dad's death. It's funny how the cycle of humans goes, isn't it? Even after the most important thing in your life is gone forever, you're not. You're still walking around, and somehow you fall into some semblance of normalcy again. You're supposed to act like it doesn't affect you daily anymore when in reality you ache every single day. No amount of words or money or wishing or love could ever bring him/her back and somewhere along the lines you accept that. You aren't alright--not really; you mended together a little crookedly, but at least you're in one piece.
Aunt Lisa asked me to buy some things at the supermarket and told me 'Getting outside the house will be good for you.' It seems strange, doing ordinary things when your mind is on something difficult to comprehend. I was at the checkout line when I recognized a familiar face in this town full of strangers. "Hi, Pastor Bill," I forced a half-smile. "Oh, hello, Ari," he returned with the grin I liked (the one that reached his eyes), "Is everything alright?" I nodded and hoped it looked the slightest bit believable. "Do you think I'm buying that?" he laughed his contagious, brilliant chuckle, the one that reached his eyes-- the one that reminded me of my dad. I ignored the pang in my chest and replied, "A girl can hope. There's just been a lot going on right now." He returned a slight, sympathetic half-smile, "Would you like to come over for a little bit to talk about it. I'm sure your aunt won't mind a few lost minutes." I nodded and produced my first genuine smile in days, "That's sounds really nice."
We walked the short distance to his house in almost complete silence, but it wasn't particularly uncomfortable. We sat on his quintessentially southern front porch drinking sweet tea I recognized as definitely homemade. "Do you know that my dad died?" I blurted, breaking the silence. He looked at me with familiar, watery blue eyes, and I knew he was choosing his words carefully. I never did that; I was one to say what was on my mind and act before thinking. I could tell Pastor Bill was a thoughtful man because he was (in so many ways) just like my dad. "Yes, I do. It's a small town, so everyone knew when Lisa went up North to attend the funeral of her brother-in-law," he admitted, "I also happen to be the person she came to in grief." I nodded, "Yeah, I knew she'd become religious over the year." I started to shake my head absentmindedly before snorting derisively, and Pastor Bill gave me a questioning glance. "I just can't comprehend it," I explained, "Ya know how people have come so far with explaining the nature of the universe but still so many people rely on some omniscient God to numb the bad that comes from simply living, but He lets all that pain happen anyway, so what's the point?" Clapping a hand over my indiscriminate mouth, I left with a strained apology.
I made it to the back streets before choking out a suppressed sob. I ran to the nearby beach where I knew my strangled cries would be drowned out by the sound of the crashing waves. I let my mind wander down quelled roads in unfamiliar towns filled with people that seemed foreign. I tore off my clothes-- suddenly feeling constrained-- to reveal my bikini that I never removed after my early-morning tan. I've always been a really strong swimmer, so when the waves engulfed my slight frame, I felt my muscles relax and my heart rate ease. A sickening smile spread across my face, I didn't have to be a really strong swimmer.
Nostalgic. That's what I was. I pined for people I could not have, longed for the happiness lacking in my life, and sought the very things that had been taken from me. At this moment, I knew I should be scared witless; memories were supposed to be flashing before my eyes, but I wasn't and they weren't-- everything was serene. I was impassive as my body descended down, down, down into the ocean. I could hear the mumbles of human voices, but they did not matter. Nothing mattered anymore. My past had been abolished from my head, and the only thing that lie ahead was peace. But then something went terribly, terribly wrong. A motion jerked me upward, snapping me out of my tranquil state, yet my thoughts were still empty as I was laid on the sand.
"What the hell were you thinking?" Landon. I suddenly felt self-conscious like he was scrutinizing my external health because he couldn't be sure of the internal one. I stood up to retrieve my clothes and bolt for home when a firm grip clenched my wrist. I shook him off, "Look, I wasn't trying to kill myself or anything. I was fine, and I still am, so you can leave me alone now." I don't think I wanted to die, not really; I think I needed to feel something. To this day, I don't really know what I wanted. Maybe having a choice in my own death is the only thing I knew I could control. Ironic, isn't it? That the only thing I'm certain of in life is how to end it. It's one thing my poor dad didn't have that I can, but I don't want it yet. I owe him that much. I felt Landon's intent gaze bore holes into my back as he let me stalk off towards home.
YOU ARE READING
The Lost YearTeen Fiction
Ari is lost when her dad (and best friend) dies before her eyes. She turns to drugs, alcohol, and boys as coping mechanisms. When she gets kicked out of school, her distant mother insists she spends the summer with her hippie aunt in South Carolina...