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It's Not Our Fault
“Does he even have any friends?” people would ask of him.
“Who would want to be his friend? He’s so weird!” others would answer.
Jonathan Littleton was the subject of many people’s insults and jokes. His hair –dyed black to match the heavy coating of guyliner and the jet black gauges he’d wear – was styles with the swoop to the left to cover his eyes. John’s outfit usually consisted of large baggy sweaters –assumed to hide self mutilated arms – and dark Tripp pants covered with chains. Everyday he’d go through school with his mp3 player so loud that you could hear the metal music screaming from several feet away. No one thought anything major of him after a week; he was just part of the high school scenery.
At the social hour known as lunch he sat alone as the tables of every clique imaginable spoke both about their own nonsense and of him. He sat alone everyday at an empty table, silently eating bagged lunches.
It wasn’t that nobody tried; some people tried to be nice to him, they truly did. However, their attempts always ended with Jonathan glaring and rudely asking what in hell they wanted. Eventually people stopped trying to be nice, and everyone excluded and ignored him.
This lasted for a long time as he neared the end of his senior year.
Recently his eyes had gotten darker. He must be wearing more make up. He’s getting thinner. He must think it’s cool or must be going for the skinny jeans look. He’s getting bad grades and coming to all detentions. He must have stopped caring about school, just as everyone else had about him.
As his senior year progressed, everything about him seemed to be getting worse. But his class didn’t care. We stopped caring long ago. But that wasn’t our fault.
It was strange when he began talking to people, getting all emo and self-pitying. He would mention how he needed help with something. Anyone could help, he’d say, he just really needed it. In his letter they found he said he needed the help because of family issues –abuse, actually. When he asked for help no one cared. Why would we? How could we? He’s been self abusing for as long as anyone could remember, and he never helped any of us. He never donated to the school charities, or the food drives, he never went to the memorials or funerals when someone from our small town passed away. Why would we care if he needed help? We owed him nothing. He shouldn’t have expected us to help, he should have known we wouldn’t.
He should have known.
It wasn’t our fault.
It wasn’t our fault he couldn’t take it. He should have known we didn’t care. We didn’t care, nor did we even really notice when he stopped coming to school. He dropped out, we assumed. It was bound to happen. It wasn’t our fault. It couldn’t be our fault. How were we supposed to know the real reason for any of it?
A few days after Jonathan had stopped showing up the principal made an announcement. In our small, small town an abused youth had taken his life. It wasn’t our fault. He had left a note for those who cared enough to know why he did it. We would have never known what was in the letter had it not been read over the PA.
Jonathan described the abuse he faced. The physical from his father, the mental from his mother, the sexual from his sister. Neglect from the government who couldn’t do anything until they had physical proof.
And then the letter mentioned us. Actually, the last half of the letter was directed at us, his class. He was sorry. Sorry for never helping, sorry for never showing up, sorry for everything he’d done. It was the last line he wrote, the last thing we have to remember him by…
‘It’s not your fault.’
It wasn’t our fault. He chose it. It wasn’t our fault. It can’t be our fault. It wasn’t our fault. Oh dear God, it can’t be our fault…