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Sariah's Stories > Never Forget (Short Story)

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message 1: by ❀ Sariah ❀ (new)

❀ Sariah ❀ (authoress96pulchritudinous) | 143 comments All right, so I spent a TON of time on this. Hope you like it. Please comment!


message 2: by ❀ Sariah ❀ (new)

❀ Sariah ❀ (authoress96pulchritudinous) | 143 comments Never Forget A Christmas story

I’ll never forget Rafael.
Rafael was…different than every other eight grader. I don’t really know how. I didn’t know much about him, but I knew a few things: When he talked (which was rare because he was very shy), he used lots of “um’s” and “er’s” and “uh’s.” His hair looked like a straw mat and his face was full of freckles, but he had the most beautiful green eyes. His mom was Spanish—and Hebrew, hence the name “Rafael”—but his dad was from Tennessee; however, Rafael was brought up in eastern Utah, where I lived. And he wasn’t a Latter-Day Saint, like me. He was Jewish.
Well, I could have embraced the opportunity to be a missionary and teach the Gospel to Rafael…but I didn’t. In fact, I never even looked at him. Though kids relentlessly teased him, never ceasing their mocking, I didn’t choose the right: I only tuned out the bullying. I didn’t want to be bullied myself, and this was so horribly selfish and cruel of me.
And it’s my greatest regret. I’ll live in guilt the rest of my life because of what I did. Because on December 24, 2012, at precisely 10:00 PM, I realized my actions were irreversible.
***
That horrible December, the bell rang on the last day of school before winter break, metallically chiming out the promise of rest and relaxation. I bolted out of my last class and tore down the hall to my locker. But as I did so, I noticed Rafael. He looked…miserable. That couldn’t be right. It was winter break at last! Even I couldn’t hold back my curiosity. I made sure no one was looking at me, and then casually strode over to Rafael. By Christmas, I was incredibly ashamed of these awful precautions. Fortunately, Rafael was hovering at the edge of the crowd, so I was sure nobody would notice me hanging out with him.
“Hey, Rafael,” I said to him. “Why so sad?” I made an exaggerated pouty face in a vain attempt to cheer him up, for he had the terrified look of a deer in headlights.
“Uh, nothing, Paige,” he said quietly. I didn’t know how he knew my name. “It’s just, um, the anniversary of my mom’s, er, death is tomorrow.”
“Oh. Well, I’m really sorry.”
“Yeah. Thanks. It was, uh, cancer, Oh, and I’m going to her, um, grave to…uh, tomorrow. I’m going alone. My, um, dad doesn’t like to go because it makes him too sad. It’s, er, really pretty there. Do you, um, like pretty places?”
“Ye-e-e-eah-h-h-h,” I said skeptically. “Why?” But I knew why. Even though he’d only met me for a minute, he wanted me to come with him to his mother’s grave.
“Well, uh…” he started.
I interrupted him. “Tomorrow’s a Thursday, so I’m free all day,” I said, quickly. “I could come. You were in the group my mom chaperoned in October, so she knows you’re a good kid and all. She’ll let me come.”
“You want to come? Really?” Rafael said, stunned. I was in shock, too. Why had I agreed to come? I barely knew this kid. Why?
“It’s Silver Mist Graveyard, right?” I asked. He nodded. “Then I’m there.”
***
I could see why Rafael had asked me if I liked pretty places. The statues filling Silver Mist were simply gorgeous: there were angels, birds, people, trees…The real trees’ branches bore mounds of sparkling snow. Every single one made of pure white marble, the mourning statues were things of sheer beauty, colorless hands outstretched toward the weak winter sun. Their outlines were defined against a silver sky. And it was so silent; not a branch rustled, not a bird chirped. Rafael were completely alone among the hundreds of cracked tombstones. We were silent as we tiptoed along the cobblestone paths, which were mostly swept clean for Christmas but fringed with snow.
Unfortunately, Rafael had to break the silence in order to direct me to his mother’s grave. “Past the granite bench,” he whispered. “Right at the weeping angel. See the tiny plaster sparrow on its carved pedestal? Left there. Wait, Paige, watch out for the—“ he began.
I tumbled down four crumbling concrete steps—and landed at the base of a small white headstone. Rafael’s mother’s.

Teresa Rogers, 1978-2008
May you forever chase shooting stars.

“She was only thirty?” I asked, my stomach suddenly churning.
“Yes,” he said, hardly able to speak, so choked was he with tears. “She’s been dead for four years.”
“You were eleven when she…?”
“I was.”
A lump wedged in my throat.
“What was it like?” I whispered.
“Like someone had ripped out my heart,” he answered, “and tore out the part where I felt love, then shoved me the rest.
“I felt like I was drowning when I found out. For months, my lungs seemed like they had failed, like I was at the bottom of a swimming pool—clawing at the water, desperate for air. I just lost my senses: I wasn’t able to function. I felt…detached from myself. Like the real me was watching Shadow Rafael, the one everyone else saw, from the sky. I was watching a shadow of myself get into fights and get detention. I watched the Shadow Rafael’s grades drop from A’s to D’s and F’s. I watched Shadow Rafael scrape past summer school with straight C’s. Neither I nor Shadow Rafael was real.”
We sat there, silent, with tears streaming down our cheeks. Rafael wasn’t afraid to cry with me because I understood—even though I didn’t want to. Others might have called him weak for that, but I respected him.
After about an hour—oh, but it felt like years! I was sure I was a hundred times older, but how could that be?—I croaked, “My mom will pick me up any moment. Do you need a ride?”
“No,” he said, finally. “My dad will pick me up.”
Those were the last words he ever spoke to me.
***
I have some grave news, Ms. Pierce’s e-mail, which was sent to the parents of everyone in our middle school, warned. Ms. Pierce, being the best Language Arts teacher in the school, could make words her slaves; thus, she was always the harbinger of unfortunate news.
Yesterday, a student whom I teach was severely injured in a car crash. Sadly, his father was killed. The student, however, survived and was immediately rushed to the hospital. He suffered serious injuries to his brain; he is now in critical health care.
I, Ms. Pierce, thought that we, the students and their parents, could work a little Christmas magic for this boy by donating money to help pay for his health care. His mother died four years ago, and he now does not have any parents to pay the exorbitant price. He needs our help. Please bring donations to the office secretary, Mrs. Hills.
Sincerely,
Ms. Pierce

I knew who the orphan was: Rafael. Critical health care? It was only yesterday we’d walked the winding paths of Silver Mist together!
I begged Mom to drive me to the hospital, pleading that he was my friend and was injured. She couldn’t say no. But I wanted to walk in alone.
Once there, I inquired of Rafael Rogers. They refused to allow me into his hospital room until I told them I was the daughter of Andrew Green. Since my father was a surgeon, they reluctantly let me in (after I’d donned a facemask, gloves, a hairnet, covers for my shoes, and a sterile hospital gown)…but they shouldn’t have allowed me the visit.
Because I was terrified when I saw him. He was wrapped entirely in bandages, even his beautiful green eyes. Machines of every sort buried him in beeps, squawks, and whines. But I simply held the cloth-covered club that should have been his hand and talked to him, even though I knew he couldn’t hear me.
I sounded awkward at first: “Rafael, it’s me, Paige. I just wanted to…to visit you. Because we really bonded yesterday at the graveyard. I got to know you in your comfort zone. You didn’t even use one ‘um’ or ‘uh.’” I bit my lip, feeling my own hand shake. And then the words spilled out of me. I told him he didn’t deserve this. That he wasn’t worthless. That I was a horrible person for snubbing him. That I was more sorry about this than anything I’d ever been ashamed of, ever. By the time I was finished, I could hardly speak, I was crying so hard.
***
At exactly 10:00 PM that Christmas Eve, two weeks later, Mom read me Ms. Pierce’s e-mail.
Rafael hadn’t made it.
Rafael’s heart had stopped.
Rafael was dead.
At first I refused to believe. Then the world spun around me. Black spots and bursts of color popped in my eyes. I felt dizzy and toppled down.
“No,” I whispered. “NO!” And then I was screaming. Screaming.
I ran to the front door, flung it open, dashed out the door. My arms immediately began to scream in pain, for I hadn’t grabbed a coat. The snow stung my bare feet. I didn’t know where I was running, only that I had to escape. I was vaguely aware of my mother chasing and calling after me, but I was too fast for her and lost her for good around a corner. I stumbled and fell, and the snow turned my arms red and wet and numb, but I wasn’t feeling, I was just like Rafael. I was untouchable. I didn’t care, nothing mattered to me, I didn’t feel emotion yet my heart burst with it. The houses stared at me with their lit windows, but I didn’t see them. I didn’t see or hear anything, just as I didn’t feel.
Finally, I reached Silver Mist Graveyard. It was all lit up for Christmas, and it seared my eyes because I was so fragile and the lights were so bright. My feet took me to Teresa Rogers’ grave, where I collapsed. I traced the engraved letters, wanting Rafael here to look at me with his beautiful eyes and make me feel better. Wanting it so badly, my heart was simply shattering. Rafael was gone.
Gone.
***
After, I became sick with fever that raged and turned my cheeks into twin fires. Sick for two weeks. But once I was better, I detached myself from the people who had mocked Rafael at school.
They didn’t know what he’d been through. But I did. And I hated the pain they’d subjected Rafael to. But after school each day, I biked my way to Rafael’s grave. And sat there. And cried.
Because I knew until I, too, departed from this world, I wouldn’t be able to apologize…and it seemed such a long wait. I remembered this often. And it hurt every time.




Epilogue
I now have four children. I often remind them never to be cruel to people who seem different, people whom others mock. And I have told them the story of the boy who changed my life in a day and a half, with his kindness and suffering and humbleness. I have told them the story hundreds of times, in hopes that Rafael would never be forgotten, even though people on this earth could no longer see him.
But I know I will never forget him.


message 3: by ❀ Sariah ❀ (new)

❀ Sariah ❀ (authoress96pulchritudinous) | 143 comments Perhaps it's not great, but I would still DIE if someone took it as their own.


message 4: by Geneva (new)

Geneva (firedragon1) | 108 comments awwww...


message 5: by ❀ Sariah ❀ (new)

❀ Sariah ❀ (authoress96pulchritudinous) | 143 comments Sad?


message 6: by Geneva (new)

Geneva (firedragon1) | 108 comments its awesomely sad. it creates emotion.


message 7: by ❀ Sariah ❀ (new)

❀ Sariah ❀ (authoress96pulchritudinous) | 143 comments Thank you! I...I think that's the nicest compliment anyone has ever given me on writing! :)


message 8: by Geneva (new)

Geneva (firedragon1) | 108 comments it pulls the heart and tears the soul.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Sniff sniff...its so sad...


message 10: by ❀ Sariah ❀ (new)

❀ Sariah ❀ (authoress96pulchritudinous) | 143 comments Good. I meant for it to be sad.


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