The literature teacher at Riku's school...wants me to write a personal essay to evaluate where I stand in her class. By default, she says I'm in her second period, but...whatever. I honestly don't care too much after writing this.
Personal Essay -- Assessment
Mrs. Perksey, 2nd Period Literature
Sundays are the centerpiece in my friend Layla's household. It's a day for the family -- and the extended family -- to enjoy one another and spend time after a busy week of work, a long separation because of schooling. For as long as I can remember going, and for all I know...it's always been the same. I'd awake in her bed -- likely with about half of her on top of me -- to the popping sound and the tempting aroma of bacon or maple sausages cooking on the stove. My senses drew me out of bed each time without fail and sent Layla crashing to the floor as I went straight to the kitchen. As usual, "mommie" was making grits and eggs, or pancakes to supplement the meat. Ah, the one day a week I could feel so full I can't move. But I'd have to get ready for church. Church was not optional in that house. It was law then -- I don't know about now. We always went to worship service for a (excruciatingly long -- heels start to hurt after a while) morning of praise. We listen to the worship ensemble and hear the amusingly large pastor preach to the congregation. Then we return home. "Daddy" turned on the big screen to a soccer game so he (and I) could watch in devastation as our favorite team blew another one that season. The best part about those Sundays, though, was dinnertime. Layla's family was the typical soulfood family: black eyed peas, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, rice, dinner rolls, and no meal was complete without fried chicken. Yes, I really did eat all that; yes, I have always pretty well looked like I don't eat. We would gather around the table, say grace and dig in. Conversation was always full to bursting with reminiscing, good times, and lots and lots of laughter. I don't think I ever got through a Sunday meal in that house without almost choking on a piece of food or spitting out my drink from laughing so hard.I'd love to hear childhood stories about what a handful Layla was, always causing mischief and getting into things as an infant. Dinner had always been that way...but everything changed all at once in time on the second day of May, during an off-campus reprieve.
"Only three weeks left, and then I go back." I restlessly said to myself as 3:30 hit and the public school I had been attending with the girls from the normal facility for our five-week reprieve was dismissed. I couldn't wait to get back and take an afternoon nap; to relieve myself from my so-called 'stress'. The day had been a fairly good one, nothing different than the usual. Layla had taken the day off, the lazy bum, and would be home for me to tell her about my day and upcoming events. As the bus arrived, I got on and headed to "home".
At our bus stop, there was a large group of us plus Layla that got off together. My friends and I said goodbye and walked opposite ways to our homes. Usually it was Layla and I, but today I was alone of course. As I neared the house, caught up in dread about what would happen in three weeks' time, I noticed a fire truck parked on the side of the street. I figured something must have happenned next door because on either side of Layla lived elderly couples. One neighbor I had come to know had health problems, so it really didn't surprise me. The closer I got though, the higher my heart rose in my throat. The fire truck was near her yard. Walking up the driveway, I noticed a few cars, and I saw a familiar face. It was mommie, and she looked as though she had been waiting for me. The feeling in my heart just kept getting worse and a knot in my throat began to form. When she saw me she pulled me in and held me tight -- I pulled away and tried to go through the garage, inside; I wanted inside as fast as I could get there. When I entered the garage I heard her break down. I found myself callig on God more than I had ever in my life. Hurriedly, I flew up the small set of steps and let everything fall clattering to the floor from my arms, flinging the door iopen. The only details I remember around the room itself was Layla's purse sitting on the counter with its contents splayed across the counter as they had been when I'd dug through it that morning. Then I looked to the white linoleum and saw her.
Her eyes were wide, her face stricken -- her mouth frozen in a soft 'oh' of shock. Blood has spattered against the blonde wood of the cabinets, pooled around her and into the bullet-shaped dents in the cheaply laid flooring. It stuck to her hair, it had always been light and brown and beautiful but now it was matted thick with sickly sweet, copper tang blood. I remember where the bullet holes were and can name them, one by one, point to them on my own body -- but I won't. I remember falling down and screaming her name, over and over and over again until someone picked me up off my feet and dragged me out of the house, still screaming and streaming hot tears down my face.
Mommie was furious at her for knowing the people who had gotten her killed -- she'd been in the worng place at the wrong time, and they'd noticed and come to take care of her. Daddy kept saying it was her time to leave us. I kept asking "how dare she, what right did she have." For the next few days I kept playing back the scene over and over of the last moments I had seen Layla alive. I remembered her last "I love you Keira, have a good day, behave yourself." And my "I love you too, don't I always?" Then I see myself running to the bus stop. Regrets, for a time, played along like subtitles to a foreign film. What if I would have stayed home with her? What if I had slept in? I could have missed the bus and been there to help her, to keep her alive. Would I have taken the shots? But I knew that's not what she would have wanted.
I look back to two years ago and wonder how I was able to deal with such an ordeal. This was Layla, the person I'd been with almost my whole life. I was the baby of the two of us and still had so much to experience in life that I wanted her to see -- wanted her there for: learning to drive, prom, high school graduation, college, marriage, motherhood, all of the things...an older sister might want to see her little sister do.
Those fifteen years I was blessed to share with Layla, I know she was...difficult sometimes, but she loved me and was helping me along in her own special way. I live -- perhaps not so much as I do now, at this moment -- to live life to the fullest for her (and a few as yet unnamed people). I know she is, for the most part, proud. I could have been the teen who fell apart at the death of someone dear; however, her passing is not the excuse or reason solely on which to blame my hardships. Instead, it has become a reason for living.
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