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Grade
9

Goodbye Stranger

    People always tell you that you never realize what you had until it’s gone... I guess I had never experienced this until the day you put a bullet through your brain.

    Four days earlier...

    “So all in all, she wouldn’t let me get the sixteen-dollar lip gloss. I mean, come on!” I recollected upon the shimmery peach gloss that had covered my lips Saturday evening.

    A slight frown formed at the corner of Marvin’s mouth, “Yeah, I guess sometimes people just don’t listen, huh.” He quickly glanced in my general direction before averting his eyes to the floor.

    My birthday was in four days, and boy was I excited. I mean, except for the fact that both of my parents would be in a different country. How conceited of them, right? They’d rather go to an important work meeting in Vienna than be with their daughter on her sixteenth birthday. But hey, at least I’ll have Marvin.

    Two jocks ran by me and Marvin on the way to our Honors Algebra II class, one of them knocking Marvin into the wall.

    “Sorry,” the larger of the two mocked sarcastically as he continued to run down the hallway.

    “Are you okay?” I questioned as Marvin got up and continued down the now quiet corridor.

    “Yeah I’m fine,” he responded quietly. “Anyways, happy almost birthday, you get to learn about logarithmic expressions!” Marvin giggled as we entered the lively classroom.

    We made our way to our normal seats, two rows in from the left and three seats back. Marvin swung his backpack off of his shoulder, accidentally hitting a junior in the process.

    “Watch it dipshit,” he uttered snarkely. “Oh, hey Jackie.” He took one last glance at Marvin before turning back to his friends.

    “Alright guys, settle down!” Ms. Goldberg called out.

    “Crap.” Marvin murmured. “Uhh Jackie, can I borrow a pencil?”

    I reached into the depths of my backpack and pulled out my Vera Bradley pencil pouch.

    “Sure,” I replied.

    The bell finally rang after about an hour and a half of different (yet all miserable) expressions and equations.

    The rest of the week went by fairly slow, until my birthday finally rolled around.

    “What the hell happened to your face?” I questioned Marvin who walked into the room with a swollen eye and blood dried down onto his puffy upper lip.

    “Oh umm,” Marvin stammered. “Tommy threw a vase as me last night. Happy birthday by the way.”

    I wonder if Marvin forgot that we’ve been friends for who knows how long, and I can tell when he’s lying. Not that I’d believe his five year old brother could lift a vase to throw at him, maybe he forgot that too.

    “Yeah… thanks. You should stay over tonight,” I continued, changing the subject, “you know, celebrate a little.”

    “I’ll bring the tequila,” Marvin jokingly muttered. Even if his face was bruised, his sense of humor didn’t seem to be damaged.

    I let out a small laugh before getting lost in Mr. Deller’s lecture about why the timeless novel To Kill a Mockingbird shouldn’t be proclaimed inappropriate for audiences under the age of twelve.

***

    “Marvin Ramirez and Jackie Fischer, please come to the office.” The loud speaker bellowed, calling out our names as Marvin and I walked towards the front of the school.

    When we entered the small room, Ms. Goldberg greeted us with an indignant stare.
    
    “So,” she began. “it’s really interesting that you to sit right next to each other and somehow got all of the same answers on the midterm for my class.”

    Marvin flashed me a nervous glance. Of course Marvin knew that it was me who had been cheating, but he wouldn’t let me take the fault.

    “It was-” I stammered. Before I could finish, Marvin interrupted me.

    “Me,” he continued. “it was me. I cheated.”

    “I’m disappointed in you,” Ms. Goldberg sighed. “Please go see the principle. He’ll deal with you.” 

    She knew it was me, I could tell. Yet for some reason, Ms. Goldberg didn’t say anything. This wasn’t the first time Marvin had covered for my bad study habits. 

    Long story short, Marvin was suspended for the rest of the week. On Monday, he returned with a broken wrist. Per usual, it was because of something “Tommy had done”.

***

    The rest of the day was a blur full of Happy birthdays and giggles. The next thing I remember, Marvin and I were walking through the front door to my mini-mansion. 

    “Well damn, aren’t you popular,” I remarked in response to Marvin’s phone buzzing numerous times.

    Marvin’s face seemed to darken slightly as he glanced at the many texts he had just received. “Sure, popular.”

    Marvin entered my room and dropped his phone on my deep purple comforter. “I’m going to use the bathroom, I’ll be right back.” 

    I hesitantly reached over and opened Marvin’s phone. 

    “You worthless trash, you’re a waste of a life.”

    “Go jump off a bridge or something.”

    A tear trickled down my cheek as I scrolled through the disturbing comments that consumed Marvin’s messages. I had no idea Marvin was being harassed, I guess I thought he would tell me. His footsteps echoed down the hall as I threw his phone back onto the bed and wiped my face dry. I shouldn’t mention it… I mean, I wouldn’t want to ruin my big day.

    He hesitantly entered the room, his blue eyes red and tan face blotchy. Marvin picked up his phone and pretended to answer a call, even though it hadn’t rung.

    “Yeah, hi dad.” he spoke into the speaker. “Sorry Jackie, I have to go help clean the house.” Marvin slid the device into his back pocket, stepped into his black converse, and headed towards the door.

    I tried to call out to him, “Wait, Marvin I-” but I wasn’t able to finish my thought. I could see the pain on his face as he briskly exited the house.

    ...

    I woke up to the sound of my phone buzzing, the clock read 8:09 a.m and the caller ID Marvin’s dad. I grasped the phone and answered.

    “Umm, hello Mr. Ramirez, is everything alright?” It was quite uncommon for me to receive calls from him, being that he was such a reserved man.

    “Jackie…” his voice shook as he quietly spoke. “Marvin… Marvin’s dead.”

    I sat frozen on the couch. “No… he was here last night. That’s not possible. This isn’t funny!” 

    “He… Marvin shot himself.” 

***

    I. Love. Broadway. So when my parents wouldn’t let me travel from Colorado to New York to see Hamilton, I was devastated. I did everything I could to get them to let me go. I begged, cried, and even pulled the “but it’s almost my birthday” card. This was until Marvin showed up.

    “Mister and misses Fischer,” he began. “I’ll go with Jackie. I’ll buy my own plane and theater tickets, book a hotel, pay for my own meals, everything. The only difference between Jackie going alone and me being there, will be that she has someone to look after her. You’ve known me for who knows how many years, can you really not trust me?”

    Two months later, we were boarding a plane to the NYC. Under my parents conditions, Marvin and I were able to stay in New York for four days. Besides the show, we were able to visit Times Square, Central Park, and The Statue of Liberty. To phrase things simply, I had the time of my life. Now that’s a trip I’ll never forget

***

    I rolled off the couch and threw my phone onto the ground. Tears corroded my vision as I ran into the bathroom, and released last night’s dinner that had been sitting in my stomach. I peered back up at the mirror, and the glared hideous reflection of a horrible friend that stared back at me. How could I have been so oblivious? I glanced around the small room when I noticed something in the corner of my vision. A small tube of coral lip gloss. And just over the sixteen dollar percentage, two words:

    “Love, Marvin.”

State
CT
Zip Code
06066