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SEPTEMBER 1999 | VOL. 3, NO. 9



THAT"S LIFE

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My Last Hope

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I couldn't fall asleep last night. My eyes were wide open. There is a small window, the only window, where if I stand upon the very end of my bed and lean close toward the sidewall to my right, I can see outside. I can look upon the world from which I used to hide, and now cannot experience the free air I used to breathe and take for granted. It is early morning, sunrise. I know what today is. Today is judgement day. I look out my window and see but a single tree that stands alone in a desolate field. I am that tree. How easy for me to remember that period in my life, The worst of times. Perhaps that is all I can think about, hence the jail cell. I am nervous in my stomach. I want to leave here, even more than I had wanted to leave my previous life. Before I knew all fate would have in store for me. How can others forgive me, when I haven't forgiven myself? I want it all to end. I want to sleep in my bed, I want to live in my home, I want my family back, and I want to try again. I want a second chance.

The door to the cellblock opens, I hear the guard walking, the soles of his shoed meet the concrete with each step made. His approach echoes across the hall, I hate it. How nerve racking this can be. Still I feel the excitement deep inside my lowly soul, I may go home, but I may not. This has happened before, on three occasions, all failed, I am still here. I step down from my bed, to meet what the uncertain fate that lies before me. I am not ready, I have never been. He is near.

"Open Cell B Ten!" my cell door slides open with the call of the guard. My hands are clasped together as though by shackles. Though they are not, I feel I should keep this posture. I do not seek any trouble. The guard grasps my right arm and with his tightened grip we walk slowly down the hall. It is quiet, many are asleep now, they were up all night as well. I look around one last time as we approach the heavy door in our wake. The guard draws his keys. How many there are. It is a wonder it takes him no less than a few seconds to choose the right one, It must come with experience. Experience. My forty ninth day here, forty-nine days to many. Yet this all began five years ago, when my years of innocence came suddenly to an end and this hell had only just begun. It feels as though this all has gone longer, my hell. Little hope, Lost faith, forgotten dreams, utter anger and sadness. Endless pain, my nightmare. Five years and Forty-nine days.

Wednesday, May 13, 1998
I didn't want to get out of bed this morning. Most of the time I never do. The few mornings I wake up with a sense of self-confidence, I go to school and by the afternoon, it's lost again. I am seldom happy to the point that when happiness will arrive, I have nearly forgotten how to smile. Since I was ten years old I have lived my life in fear of school, this remains the same six years later. School. An institution where youth are prepared to live adult lives, a place of learning and education, opportunity. Yet when there I am stripped off and given nothing to my name. I face great oppression, given a hell I can never escape, and the life of the utmost cruelty others my age can hardly imagine. This is not a bloody insurrection, nor the trials and tribulation of war, not even the hardship of poverty in an urban slum; this is a high school like any other high school, in a suburban middle class town, like any other suburban middle class town. The last place one would expect to lose your life.

I had trouble going to sleep last night. I just lay there, thinking. Thinking about the regretful past and the uncertain future. There can be a lot to think about even in a predictable life of routine such as my own. Weekends are the worst at night. Friday and Saturday nights are the nights to go out by tradition, yet I stay in. I have nowhere to go and no one to go with me. I have few friends, of course. I wouldn't last without them. I need them more than they need me, particularly my best friend, but even he would be ever so embarrassed to be seen with the outcast.

Why would I go out? I would just want to go back home, I know, a tendency of contradiction. When I am at home I want to go out, when I go out I want to go home. Somehow in all this I end up back home. I didn't choose this life, I was forced into it. Forced into it by my peers. I hate to admit it, but it's true. They won the best of me a long time ago when I wasn't looking. Now I have lived at their mercy ever since. I wish it wasn't true. I can pretend it isn't true, and believe me I have, but I can't change that. I am powerless, lost, tired and broken. This didn't happen all at once. Rome wasn't built in a day and Rome didn't fall in a day.

Students in my school settle in for a certain normality that they may not necessarily agree with, but sacrifice independent thought to fit in. It is this subject where my guilt lies most, Individualism, having a mind of my own. To put it all bluntly, I am different. In my course of life I have given up faith in my abilities in all sports, appearance, and even certain common sense, among numerous other qualities I may have had, and probably chose to lose. But there is one thing no other could ever take from me and that is the spirit that to this day grows inside me, that is who I am.

"Hello." I said, I had picked up the phone after it's second ring.

"Hey." It's Allen's voice. "You paged me."

"Yeah, that was me. Allen, I have a bad feeling about all this."

"A bad feeling about what?"

"Life, in general."

"Oh?" there was a short pause.

"Today was one the worst days in my entire life."

"Everyday is the worst day in your entire life."

"I know, but not like today."

"Well what are you going to do?"

"I don't know." I said. "I have a choice. I just don't know."

"Well, I have to go." Allen said.

"The police came over to my house." I suddenly blurted out after much anticipation. "They were looking for me."

"What?" he said. "Where are you?"

"I am at my mom's house. We are supposed to meet the police tomorrow at school."

"Where in school?"

"In the office, right when I get there."

"Oh, Well I really have to go."

"Just one more thing."

"What?"

"I'm innocent, I didn't do anything." I said. "Allen I'm scared."

[ MORE: moving on, looking forward ]

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