Daily Inkling Prompt: Dark Nostalgia
“Detail a time in your life of which you have fond memories, despite that time also being accompanied by many negative emotions.”
“Please, don’t die,” I begged through sobs, holding his limp, weak body on the kitchen floor of his childhood home, while his mother screamed for his younger sister to call 911. He was staring up at the ceiling, looking at least three shades paler than usual, and not responding to my pleading.
His mom would not let me ride with him in the ambulance to the hospital, but she let me sit in the waiting room while the doctors checked his vitals, and pumped him full of stuff to clear the all the pills he had taken out of his system. When he was finally stable and resting, the doctor told his mom that he would need a psych evaluation. The doctor looked right at me, and told me it would be best if I left. Apparently, his mom had told him it was my fault that he had tried to kill himself. I couldn’t speak. His mom made me get into her car, had me call my own mother, and then told me that I was to never speak to her son again, before driving me away from the hospital.
I had been looking forward to my senior year since, well, my freshman year. My class schedule was light, and I had a lot of free time, which I intended to use to volunteer my time in the school’s library (really, I just wanted to spend all my time reading). My junior year had been one of the worst years of my life, and I was determined to make this year better. I was no longer seeing a counselor, and had managed to get my anxiety and depression under control. I was finally in a good head space. I walked into the school, head held high, and met up with my usual group of friends in the cafeteria. We talked about our summers, and caught up on all of our favorite shows, bands, and relationship gossip. It was so nice to be back with them.
I had my favorite teacher for my senior Literature class, and was excited to catch up with her. I took a seat in the back of the room, noticing that I didn’t have many friends in this class, but I was fine with that. My grades had sucked last year, and I was determined to get my GPA back up before applying to colleges.
“Oh, great. You’re here,” I heard a voice say sarcastically. I looked up to see two boys standing in front of my desk, and my throat suddenly felt dry. It was my ex-boyfriend, Josh, and his best friend (also one of my exes), Nate. I hadn’t seen much of Josh since the day of his overdose last year, and hadn’t spoken a word to him since that day at the hospital, per his mother’s request. They were both glaring at me. No doubt, Nate blamed me for what happened, even though I hadn’t done a damn thing.
I chose to ignored them, and returned my gaze back down to the notebook lying on my desk, while the two of them took two of the empty desks nearby. My stomach suddenly hurt. All of the negative thoughts and emotions that I had been struggling with the year before came flooding back in an instant. I shook them off as best as I could, and tried to focus on the lesson plan.
As the days went on, I tried to ignore them, but guilt and sadness tugged away at me. Josh never gave me much trouble, but any time I tried to be cordial with him, he brushed me off, which was probably for the best. Nate, however, seemed determined to make my life hell, for whatever reason. I tried not to let him get to me. I had dealt with my fair share of bullying during my middle school and high school years, and I certainly wasn’t going to take it during my senior year, especially for something I hadn’t even done. I knew better. But, it was still hard to be reminded of last year.
I did well in school. I loved all of my classes, and my teachers, and I partook in several extracurricular activities, like Upward Bound, Amnesty International, and the Civil Rights Team, to keep me occupied. When I went home after school, I immersed myself in the fantasy world of Azeroth, spending hours upon hours playing World of Warcraft with the new friends that I had made since last year, who supported me, and helped me overcome the trauma that I had experienced.
As the year went on, I’m not sure if Josh and Nate came to their senses, and finally realized that I wasn’t to blame for the events that transpired the year before, or they just grew up, but they started being nicer to me. Because of how close we had all been in the years prior to Josh’s overdose, we shared a lot of mutual friends, and a lot of tension was lifted when they realized that we were all able to be in the same room, or sit at the same table, without Nate saying something dickish to me, or Josh awkwardly avoiding talking to me in conversation. Things were getting better.
By the end of our senior year, you would never have known that the year before, as well as the start of that year, had been so filled with drama and tension. A lot of our friend group belonged to the same clubs, and we all worked together on senior projects and activities. Josh, Nate, and I all started appearing in pictures together again on MySpace and Facebook, and we would meet up for football games with our other friends on Friday nights.
We even all skipped out on prom together, agreeing that it was a huge waste of money, and a silly tradition.
When graduation came, we posed happily for pictures together in our caps and gowns, ready to leave behind the bittersweet memories that high school had given us. A few days before I moved away for college, Josh and I went for a long drive, and had the deep, serious heart-to-heart that we had been avoiding all year long. We finally cleared the air between us, and did away with the dark cloud that had been looming over us and our friendship all year long, even though things had improved. It gave us both some much needed closure. We had both moved on with our lives by that point. We were both dating other people, and both had plans to go away to college.
Storm clouds had covered a good chunk of what should have been one of the best, most exciting, years of my life, but I kept my head up. I stayed close to my friends, stayed mindful of my mental health, and remembered that I was worthy of respect and love. I was a good person, and I had done nothing wrong. And it worked. The clouds eventually went away, and sunshine shined down on me for the rest of the year. I made it out of high school alive, with some amazing friends by my side, and a ton of memories, both good and bad, tucked into my back pocket.