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Middle School Sad

I sit in my room, rubbing my temples. I look around, sighing. The room is nicely decorated. Dark green bedspread; matching rug. Nice paintings. Dresser. Desk.

The sky outside is partly shielded by the green curtains I put up 2 years ago. A discarded surgeon’s mask lies in the garbage can I haven’t emptied in months. I haven’t talked to a human being in months. 

Almost a year ago, when I should have been getting ready to get drunk with my friends, everything shut down. I remember texting my friends, us making plans to meet 2 weeks later. 

I scoff out loud. Those group chats lie untouched. It’s not that we aren’t friends anymore, we are. It’s the ghosts. The memories. The pain. The bills. 

I remember when we thought it was just 2 weeks. Hah. If only we knew. I don’t know what I’d give to hear Elizabeth’s laugh, or sit thigh to thigh with Becky, her knobby knees clanging with mine. 

College had just ended the year before for us, we were saving up to live together, us all living in tiny studio apartments. 

I hear birds chirping, a forlorn dog. Was I supposed to schedule a telemedicine visit next week? When is next week? Was “next week” actually last week? 3 weeks? A month? I don’t know. 

I stand up. I could check my phone, but I can’t bring myself to. I look at my reflection. When was the last time I showered? Changed my clothes? I don’t remember. “You’re rank.” I say to my reflection. My voice is hoarse and gravelly from lack of use. 

I look again at my red leather pocket knife on my dresser. I’ve thought about it. Too many times. How easy it would be to cut my pearly white wrist, how satisfying to see the bright red blood. To slip away. 

But every time I think about it, Elizabeth’s laugh fills my mind. I wouldn’t want to drag her down the same path. 

I remember, vaguely, waking up, on a day long ago. I remember the trees outside were losing their leaves. They said we had a new president. The news. My mail in ballot sat untouched at my dusty table. I forgot to vote. The election me and my friends were so excited about, so giddy to be included in, wasted. Gone. But not forgotten. 

As I pull out my battered laptop, I watch 3 episodes of a TV show on Netflix. Lately, they help zone me out. I have trouble getting excited by things, having trouble actually watching them, really watching them. 

I can’t remember the date. I used to be excited about Fridays. Now I don’t know. Is it Monday? Tuesday? Saturday? 

There’s nothing I have to do, nothing bringing me places. No social life. 

The days are like a cycle. 

Wake up. If I remember, eat something. Look out the window. Watch Netflix or scroll through Amazon. If I remember, eat lunch. Take a nap. Pop some bubble wrap. Watch more Netflix or scroll through Amazon. If I remember, eat something. If I remember, shower. I always forget to shower. Finally, I then go to sleep. 

And then it repeats.

Like clockwork.

And thus I do not remember the days. 

I sit on my bed and rub my temple again. What is the day? 

I check my phone. March 18th, 2021. It’s been a year in this pandemic.

Suddenly the air is pierced by a scream. “Help! My friend is choking!” is coming from outside. 

I stand up and race outside. Some of my neighbors are sprinting too. A distraught high school girl wearing a red face mask is sobbing over her friend’s limp body. “Sh-She just collapsed!” 

Sure enough, the limp girl is slowly turning pale. 

I dial 911 and say to the high school girl “An ambulance is on the way. Can you check for a pulse?” 

My neighbors are surveying the scene from a distance. 

The girl’s brown eyes are bright and I see tears spilling down her cheeks. I can hear sirens approaching. “Yeah I’ll check for a pulse.” 

The girl places two of her cocoa colored fingers on the inside of her friend’s wrist. “It’s okay. It’s okay, Lillian.” she mumbles soothingly to the unconscious girl. 

“She probably choked on something. Was she chewing gum?” I say. My voice is finally going back to what it was, a musical, pretty thing. I used to sing. 

“I think she was. She always chews 3 pieces at once. She laughed and I guess she-” 

“Why don’t you sing to her?” I say. 

The girl nods and starts to sing a silly nursery rhyme. She sings a verse and says “It’s the only thing I can think of.” 

“That’s okay.” 

She starts over. 

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall 

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again”

She finishes and the ambulance arrives. The limp girl rides away, and after her friend texts their moms, sits down next to me. 

“Sorry. I don’t have my mask with me.” I say. 

“That’s okay. We’re outside, and I’m wearing one.” 

Hearing the girl sing the nursery rhyme brings tears to my eyes. Why did I give up on life? Life is precious. I should sing again. 

“What’s your name?” I ask. 

“Josie. You?” 

“Dorothy.” 

“Like the Wizard of Oz?” she says, laughing. 

“Exactly. My friend Elizabeth calls me Toto sometimes as a joke.” 

Josie giggles. 

“Do you like to sing?” I say. 

“Sure. It’s alright.” 

“Would you sing for me?” I say nervously. 

“Okay. What do you want me to sing?” 

“Whatever you want.” 

“Okay.” Josie clears her throat and starts singing. 

“Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea

And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee

Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff

And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff

Oh, Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea

And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee

Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea

And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee

Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail

Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff's gigantic tail

Noble kings and princes would bow whene'er they came

Pirate ships would lower their flags when Puff roared out his name

Oh, Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea

And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee

Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea

And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee

A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys

Painted wings and giant's rings make way for other toys

One gray night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more

And Puff, that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain

Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane

Without his lifelong friend, Puff could not be brave

So Puff, that mighty dragon, sadly slipped into his cave

Oh, Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea

And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee

Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea

And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee”

Josie finishes with a flourish. 

“Lovely. See you.” I say. 

When I get home, I take a shower. As I rub shampoo in my oily hair, I start to sing. 

March 08, 2021 02:13

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3 comments

Pamela Berglund
02:36 Mar 18, 2021

this was a good story and you followed the prompt well, but you need to work on the structure of the document...paragraph breaks, word usage and flow. Keep on writing. You'll get it

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01:57 Mar 15, 2021

While this story had a great start, the finish didn’t quite work. It went from this thoughtful description of pandemic life to lots and lots of lyrics. The singing bit was certainly off-putting, but would’ve worked if it was a momentary thing. You don’t want half your story to be lyrics, then you lose the story itself.

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Pippin Took
17:37 Mar 15, 2021

Thanks for the tip. I was running short on time and decided to add a filler, Definitely not my best story.

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