It’s been 15 years, but I still regret what happened at the lake that night. It wasn’t supposed to play out that way. All I had wanted was to fit in. To be more than a nobody. Experiencing the aftermath of that night though, I realized more than ever that I would always be the odd one out. It started out as a dare. Something to prove that I could be as “normal” as all my other classmates. And it ended with me taking the life of the only person that had ever tried to befriend me. A freak accident caused by me, the freak.
Darcy was the only other one at our high school that looked like me, other than that we were polar opposite. She would always smile at me as I walked down the hallways. I hated school so there was never a time when I didn’t look like a zombie wandering the hall seemingly hungry for brains. That never held her back from waving at me and saying “Hey!” every time she saw me. It came as no surprise that she attached herself to my hip on that stupid overnight field trip. I remember it like it was yesterday…
Darcy tried to make eye contact with me as she walked down the aisle of the school bus. I sank lower in my seat digging my earbuds deeper in my ears hoping to avoid conversation. She must have considered that a challenge because before I could blink she was scrunching in next to me on a seat the size of a baking pan. She knew that we were the odd ones out on that field trip. In a sea full of jocks and cheerleaders we were the only outcasts at our school. Both of our haircuts were chopped short and matched our wardrobe consisting of all black, with thick eyeliner surrounding our eyes, the studs in both of our noses and our pale white skin shone bright in contrast. As you can imagine, in sunny California we both stuck out like a sore thumb. My mom used to scold me saying that I wore “too much make up” and said things like “honey, if you took some of that junk off I’m sure more people would want to be friends with you. You would definitely get more dates!” I knew that Darcy went through the same thing…I heard her mom yell from the car once as she was dropping her off at school, “see if you can make friends with some of the popular girls!” There was no question that we were both considered the outcasts of Newmont High.
I shook my head as if trying to dismantle the thoughts of so long ago that seemed lodged in my head like a bullet that if removed, would kill me. I pulled the mail that had been stuffed tightly into my apartment mailbox and headed up the 3 flights of stairs to my apartment. I had been gone for the last week attending my mother’s funeral. It was no surprise that she had taken her own life. She had made my life so miserable that I can’t imagine how she felt about her own. Frankly, I’m surprised it hadn’t happened sooner. That thought brought me back to my previous memory. Unlike me, Darcy always seemed to enjoy life. She never seemed to care what people thought of her. Despite her own mother that must have been just as overbearing as mine. She chose to be happy. She chose to be kind and trusting. And that was how it all began… and why her life ended.
“Hey, Lana..Laaaanaaaa, “ Darcy stuck her hand in front of my face waving it around as several skull bracelets around her wrist jingled in unison with her chipper tone. The annoyed expression on my face didn’t phase her as she flung her “Seconds After Death” backpack underneath our seat. I was impressed that she even knew that band. I didn’t let that deter me from rolling my eyes and doing my best to scoot as far away from her as possible on the tiny bench we shared. It was nothing personal I just wanted to be left alone. She shook her head at me, “lighten up will ya? I don’t bite.” Just then Kathryn Jones, captain of the cheerleading squad peered over the bench in front of us and sneered “or do you!? Freak..” She giggled as her friend sitting next to her high fived her. She flung back her long blonde pony-tail and it shook from side to side. Oh, how I would have loved to grab that pony tail and give her a piece of my mind. Ignoring her, Darcy grabbed her backpack and dug around in it for what seemed like minutes. She smiled as if she had pulled “The Sword from the Stone” and revealed a pack of Dubble Bubble gum. “I can’t get enough of this stuff”, she said stuffing a piece in her mouth. “Wa some,” she offered chewing loudly. I shook my head and turned away from her as I turned my music up full blast. I hoped she would get the hint. I sighed with relief when she shrugged her shoulders and sat back humming to herself. I felt kind of bad but couldn’t help it. I liked to be alone no matter where I was. Blame my strangely overbearing parents, or my pest of a little brother who didn’t know when to quit. To me, music was the only thing I could stand listening to.
As the bus pulled up to Camp Trodger a cheer let out on the bus as everyone began talking about heading to the lake. To me just the thought made me shudder. I hated the water. I think Darcy could sense my uneasiness because she playfully shoved my shoulder and said, “what, are you afraid of the water?” I shrugged my shoulders and quietly admitted, “I don’t know how to swim.” I tried to step past her to get off the bus before the herd of teenagers came stampeding through the campground like a bunch of imbeciles. Darcy blocked my path and excitedly said, “Let me teach you how!” I just shook my head and pushed past her. Did she not understand that I didn’t want to be on this trip to begin with, let alone make any friends. I had thought to myself then that if I made it back alive from this field trip it would be a miracle. That thought now filled me with chills and a deep longing for the life of my would be friend. She had been the one who didn’t make it out alive.
A knock at the door drew me back to reality and I sighed deeply as I flung several bills into the trash can and grabbed a Dr. Pepper from the fridge. It was most likely the superintendent letting me know my rent was overdue. I didn’t care and didn’t bother answering the door. I sat in my favorite big comfy chair and put my ear buds in. My favorite song from Seconds to Death blared in my ears. I closed my eyes and a single tear rolled down my face looking for an escape I knew it would never find.