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Annamaria Vivar

Freshman in NJ. Currently working on a novel.

Message to Readers

Please inform me about any confusing grammatical errors, plot mistakes, or any area that may confuse you. Thanks so much for reading and for your feedback!

The Bench

February 16, 2015

    I've been waiting for hours outside the airport in my car for my nephew, Carter, to come in. His mom, my sister, called me about a week ago to inform me that he was having a tough time adjusting to his new school and wasn't making the best decisions. She asked me if it was okay if she sent him to me for a couple days so I could straighten him out. When I was his age, I was going down the same path.

    After hours and hours of waiting for him to land, he jumped into the car with his headphones on and music blasting. He obviously doesn't want to be here, honestly I don't want to be here either. 

    I tap him on the shoulder and say to him very loudly, "Take those off now."

    He gives me a nasty look and takes them off and I continue and say, "I know you don't want to be here. I don't want to be here either, but your mom has a way of persuading people to do things. I have a story to tell you. It's a long one, but it will change your perspective on life. It's basically the reason your mom sent you here. Ready to hear it?"

    He said, "Can we just get it done and over with?"

    "So where do I start," I say as I drive away from the airport. "Growing up I knew this girl named Rachel. I've known her since Kindergarten. She's always been beautiful, even when I cut her hair in Kindergarten. Rachel was popular, beautiful, and seemed perfect. She always had a smile on her face, even when she was in pain. 

    "In secondary school, things weren't so great for me. My brother was popular, smart, and handsome. On the other hand, I was an outcast who was barely passing my classes. I had no friends and I sat in the back of the classroom. My brother was always hanging out with his friends or one of his many girlfriends. Most of the time I would stay in my room and listen to music to ignore the screaming of my parents fighting. He and I would always be compared with each other by our parents and everyone else. He was the perfect son and I was the one no one wanted. 

    "One night, my parents were in a pretty heated argument. Plates and chairs were thrown. Your mom was a baby at the time and she was screaming her head off. It was late at night and I just wanted to go to sleep. Once again, I blasted the music in my headphones to block out the yelling. I wouldn't have gone to sleep that night if I would've known that my brother wouldn't return home.

    "Whenever my dad knows that he lost an argument, he would run out, go to a bar, get drunk, and my brother would bring him home. That night, my brother went to my dad's usual bar. However, he wasn't there. Instead my dad was really leaving us this time. My brother got drunk and got into a bar fight. The guy he was fighting with pulled a gun and killed him.   

    "After that, people actually talked to me out of sympathy. I hated it but loved it at the same time. My brother died and I got attention for it. Once it calmed down I had no friends. People didn't talk to me. Rachel was the only one who even acknowledged my existence. I became extremely depressed. I had no emotions, I was never happy and I was never sad. I was a blank slate. 

    "My parents had tried getting back together after my brother's death, but they just fought about the night that he died. There was something different about that year because my parents got a divorce. I finally got to know Rachel.

    "Rachel was in a two year relationship with another popular person at our school, a football player. They were "the couple." What people didn't know was that he was abusive, he raped, and beat her. He threw her down the stairs after they broke up and she broke her arm. She never told anyone, she put makeup on to cover the bruises and a smile on her face to hide the pain. She never had her parents around to tell them because they were always on business trips. All of her friends were fake, they never really knew who she was. Throughout the relationship and afterwards, she began to binge drink. This happened around the time that I lost my brother. 

    "During school, apparently Rachel had a flask with her. Whenever she saw her ex she would drink. Whenever she saw me, she would make an effort to talk to me. She would say hi to me or even poke my arm and smile at me. I acted like I didn't care or didn't notice. I always noticed her. She was beautiful. She was naturally pretty, wavy hair, some freckles here and there. She was perfect. I never expected someone like her to have gone through all that she did. 

    "It was a Monday morning and I only had an hour's sleep that night. I was tired and drugged up on anti-depressants. I didn't know exactly where I was walking so I accidentally walked into the woman's restroom. Rachel was there, lying on the ground unconscious with an empty flask next to her body. I didn't know what to do. I was afraid she would die or get expelled. I couldn't let that happen to her. I did C.P.R. on her. She woke up and said to me, "Thanks. I'll see you at eight tonight." I was so confused that I agreed to meet with her.

    "That night I took her out to dinner and to my favorite park. We shared a kiss with each other there. Eventually we fell in love and we went to that park all the time. A week after graduation she was leaving to go to UCLA. Her flight was in the middle of the night and she wanted to drive herself to the airport. We had our last date at that park. We ate dinner during sunset underneath a big oak tree.

    "We had a great night with each other. She left the park crying. Watching her leave made me bawl my eyes out. I went home that night and went to sleep. In the middle of the night the phone rang. There had been an accident. Rachel was hit by a tractor trailer on the freeway and died instantly on impact, she felt no pain."

    We arrived at the park and I showed Carter the bench that was dedicated to her. Showing him the bench made tears stream down my face. 

    I finished saying to Carter, "Rachel coming into my life was one of the best things that ever happened to me. She changed me as a person and made me who I am today. If I were to leave Sydney, I think I would forget about her. I have reminders everywhere about her. I will always love her and if I ever leave Sydney I would move on and I don't want to move on."

    Carter finally speaks up and says to me, "Uncle Jake, why did my mom make me fly here just so I can hear your life story?"

    "Because you remind her of me. She's divorcing your dad. You almost lost your sister. Soon you'll fall in love. Enjoy it, but don't get too attached to her like I did. I love Rachel, but if I would've moved on I would be a different person than I am today."

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