Stories Pt. 4

I’ve been peeking into Donald Miller just a tad bit, but I admit that I am guilty of reading another book at the moment.  I’m easily distracted; what can I say? But I’m going to push through my muddled commitments and do a post on stories because I have to dedicate myself to something.  I can’t always quit half way through my plans, ya know.

My last post about stories (or the post before that…who knows) delved into the inclusion of other characters to make for a better story.  But I got thinking about what happens when there is the loss of a major character in your story?  I think about books like “The Book Thief” and “Harry Potter” or even anime (since they specialize in killing people off) such as Naruto and Hunter X Hunter. These all involve a plot line that eventually involves the death of a character to further the storyline.  Unless we’re talking about Naruto in which every single person dies. Not really; that’s a reach, but if you watch the show you know my pain. I haven’t forgiven them for Jiraya yet. Naruto already lost his parents, guys. How could they kill off his mentor like that? HOOOWWWW!?!? Anyway. I specifically mean stories that are going good and then bam, the antagonist dies.  I even consider people who are living pretty terrible stories in which they are fairly villainous and yet continue to live on with no qualms.  It’s entirely intriguing how things pan out in life and almost how unfair life often is.

Back when I moved to Jackson in the eighth grade I started out being very lonely because in those grades, people tend to already have cliqued up.  Since I was the newbie I had to find my place among preformed groups.  One particular group I was invited into involved a guy named Brian who was very laid back, but whenever he spoke it was usually comedy gold.  I ended up taking art class with Brian junior year of high school and our friendship grew because we saw each other more often.  We started a group in the class called LME which stood for the Lame Crew because all of us were corny. It was corny within itself.  I am a thousand percent sure it was my idea because only I could come up with something so idiotic.  But everyone gained a nickname in the group and Brian’s was Rev because he was very much like a pastor in his quiet demeanor, but his vast humor.  Brian also had this bad habit of telling you things about yourself that you needed to hear, but really didn’t want to hear. “Amber, did you know you have cankles?  Your legs are jiggly. Your boobs are sagging.”  And let me tell you, I appreciate him on the boob thing because I was a size C wearing bras with no underwire and that was like wearing no bra at all.  Thanks a lot, Ma. You really didn’t care about me, did you!?!?  But Brian was a gentleman. He always walked my friend Rocky (she had that nickname before the group was formed) and me to class. He would wait for us even if that meant that he might be late for his next class. He made sure no one said anything disrespectful about us or put their hands on us in any intrusive way. If someone tried to grab our legs or some other body part he would step in and say, “Aye, don’t touch them like that. You don’t know her like that.”  After we graduated I went to Mississippi College which wasn’t too far from Jackson, but Brian ended up going to a school miles away though still in the state.  Since we were no longer seeing each other daily we didn’t talk as often.  When I say we didn’t talk as often I meant we didn’t talk at all.  I was caught up in surviving Western Civilization and hanging with new friends I had met in my dorm.  I honestly didn’t think about Brian at all except when he popped up on my Facebook timeline or my twitter feed.  Less than half way through the year I got a message from him asking me how everything was going.  I told him it was all fine other than suffering through Chapel and New Testament (the most boring class I have ever taken to date). I’m used to Brian being a listening ear so I’m droning on about school and how I don’t really like it. I’m sorry, but I talk about things I know best and I know nothing better than myself.  It’s a terrible habit. After my long drawn out complaint, I hit him with the usual “How about you?” You know. You can’t talk about yourself all the time (note to self).  He then told me that his cancer had returned and that not too long after he had moved into his dorm he had to be hospitalized.  I was never aware that he had any form of cancer so I was at a complete loss to hear that he was even further away in St. Jude Hospital.  He of course tried to stay positive by saying that they he had been doing alright and that he had gotten to meet the Memphis Grizzlies. You know when you’re young, you don’t think that people your age die, especially from cancer.  A classmate had passed junior year after a car accident and it was terrible going to school the next day. His closest friends were in the halls screaming because his desk was empty in art class that day.  The grief counselors could only do so much.  But you think of that as a once in a lifetime incident.  Like no one else is going to die until we’re old and crusty.  So as Brian spoke to me about how things were going good, I took him at his word.  In my mind he’s going to do  his treatments and be out of the hospital in a month or two.

Around January we text again and I ask how he’s doing. He tells me he’s still in the hospital, but that everything is fairly okay.  I then ask how he’s doing emotionally and mentally because I know he was excited to start college and that he had to be disappointed because he was spending his freshman year laying in a hospital bed.  “It’s hard. I can’t walk on my own anymore.  I got to go home for Christmas, but I had to come right back.  I’m always tired.  It’s just hard.” (please note it may have been Thanksgiving when he got to go home. I won’t lie and say that I remember which holiday.)  And what do you say to that? No one wants to hear any cliche statements about “it’ll all get better” from someone who still has full functionality in their limbs.  I flat out told him I didn’t have the words to say and that I didn’t know what to say.  He accepted my admission with a deeply understanding kindness.  That’s the last I remember speaking to him. Sometimes in the next couple of weeks I kept thinking to text him, but I got caught up in my self and I never did.  I won’t deny my thoughtlessness in the situation. I should have just picked up the phone and sent a simple text, but I didn’t.  Not long after that I saw a post on FB stating that he had died due to the cancer.  And all I could think about was him laying in a hospital bed, unable to walk, and tired. Until he took his last breath. And that’s just as messed up as it can get.

I find it funny that I’m still kicking around God’s green Earth when I can barely get myself to not sleep the day away, but people like Brian who had real goals and had a real impact on people have their stories end abruptly. Sometimes I start plotting on ways to end my story and yet I wake up another day unlike many around me. The classmate, Chris, who died in the car accident was the same way.  He was a star athlete at the school, his mother’s only child, and an extremely cool person.  He had the status of popularity in school, but he was humble beyond comparison.  He always made our class laugh or smile.  I remember the day after his death I had to go to art class, which was the class I took with him.  I already dreaded what that would be like because the school was already deathly quiet that day and I imagined that class would be worse.  When I say we all were crying, we were all crying. Those of us who weren’t crying were damn close to crying.  Finally after the grief counselors calmed some of the students down and we all sat muddling in our individual grief for about thirty minutes another classmate who had been close to Chris finally said, “Why we crying? Chris would roast us for this. He wouldn’t want us to be in here crying, man.” To which we all laughed because it was true. Chris was king of roasting people about their outfits or something they said so we knew that he wouldn’t want us to spend our whole day in a cloud of sadness. It helped to lift our spirits even though we could all see the empty desk that belonged to him, and we all knew that he would never get a chance to sit in it again.  Stories don’t always end like they’re supposed to.  I wish I could explain why and how, but I can’t.  When his mom got up to speak to the school I wish I could tell her why her son was the only one in the car to die. I bet his best friend, who happened to be the one driving, could explain what happened.  I bet he wished that he knew why his friend was thrown out of the window of the car he was driving. How he was at the wheel, but it wasn’t him who lay in the street dying while a nurse tried to get him to hold on. Yea, it ended up coming down to the message “Don’t speed. Don’t skip school. Wear your seat belt.” But plenty of people speed. I’ve skipped school before. My stepsister to this day STILL doesn’t wear a seat belt. So the question of why still exists.  You know they always say the good die young. I’m not sure how much I support that statement, but I do feel like a lot of good stories end entirely too soon.

I go back and forth with myself about my own life story and about furthering the plot, developing my character, and getting past the conflict.  I have a hard time doing any of that. I mean ANY of it.  You’ve read my whine posts on here. I’m constantly alternating between optimism and depression. But I also think about people who had good stories and didn’t get to finish them and how that’s bullshit on my part because I choose not to live a good story when they didn’t get a chance too.  Now, I do acknowledge that I can’t control how another person’s story ends so if it ends abruptly I literally can’t do anything about that. But I can do something about my own story. And even with those people being characters in my own story I know how much impact they had. They helped push my story along in great ways, so I kind of want to honor them by making sure it doesn’t go to shit in a shoot.  It also makes me wonder about what kind of character I am in other peoples’ stories.  Will they say, “Amber was an asshat” or “I used to cheat off Amber in class” (which is probably true because I’ve been told blatantly that I’ve been cheated off of….like…why….)?  My current job is working in laundry at a hotel. It’s not glamorous and I didn’t even really want the job, but it’s a long story how that all went down.  For a while our housekeepers were short staffed beyond belief and they would get stuck doing 20 rooms each some days.  After I learned how to make beds I went around and helped make up beds in between loads of laundry or at the end of the day.  I still try to help even though they’ve hired some additional help.  Yesterday one of the housekeepers had to leave early for training at her new job.  To make matters worse one of her rooms checked out a day early so she had an additional room to do.  I asked her did she need me to help, and even though she told me she thought she could handle it I went ahead and made up her beds in that room.  She told me she wanted to put my name down for employee of the month for helping her, but I could much less give a fuck about employee of the month.  I want people to say, “Amber really helped me when I needed it,” whenever I do get a new job and leave. To be honest, they don’t even have to acknowledge that I’ve helped at all. As much as they can talk about my hair or my glasses or my annoying laugh they can’t say I didn’t help without it being untrue. One of my coworkers told me that another worker talked about how slow I move when I’m picking up laundry on the floor. And I could give air to a fish for how much I cared. Because for what someone says negative about me, I ensure they can say something positive. I’m not really doing much, but I’m trying to do something because I hate not to leave a footprint. And I’d really hate to be an useless character in someone’s story.  See guys, I’m not as anal and asshattish as I sound on here.

As I end this, my cousin texted me and told me that he was watching an anime and how it didn’t look like it would have a happy ending. And let me just say Anime is the devil, Naruto is trash, and I am sick of being treated this way!  Also that in reference to my last post about being broken I’m doing better, but I’m still sleeping too much and not eating right now.  I’ve learned to just take a hot shower whenever I think about self harm and I’m supposed to be going to get a tattoo on Friday to help divert my attention from it. So bear with me. I’m trying not to get on here and go into a full blown depressive rant, but we know how that goes.



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