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Memoir for Esther
Her name was Esther. She sat next to me in a class I have long since forgotten. She wasn’t pretty or born in a rich family; she was just another person who seemed to blend in with the crowd. She was a gentle creature, one who never spoke up in a classroom filled with noise and activity. I suppose this was the reason I had first noticed her. Every day, I watched as she quietly took out her books and began to do the required work. When she finished, she always took out a notebook, filled with sticky notes and hastily scribbled writing. She usually seemed frustrated, making faces as she flipped through the notebook, crossing out lines and adding new ones in.
I observed her for a month; by now, most of my friends had noticed my strange behavior in class, laughing at the way I examined her. I brought a plastic bat to school the next day. My friends decided to drop the subject.
One day, in the middle of her daily work, Esther suddenly jerked up, startling me out of my day-dreaming. I watched in fascination as she pulled out the notebook, opening it with a vigorous energy. Her body shook with exhilaration, her pencil dancing upon the blank pages. I could not tear my gaze from her; so inspired was she that she had long forgotten the world around her. By the end of the class, she had finished her glorious work, grinning with satisfaction. She left the class with a hop in her step and a smile on her lips. I felt tempted to join her, but my friends dragged me to my next class, ignoring my cries of longing.
I finally worked up my nerve, deciding to confront this enigmatic muse. I interrupted her in the middle of her frustrations, asking her what she was doing. She blushed, reddening with embarrassment at the realization of being caught at work. She confessed that she’s a writer, or an aspiring one, she laughed. Wanting to impress her, I replied that I also enjoyed writing. She smiled brightly, happy that she had finally found a kindred spirit. I felt guilty for deceiving her, but that quickly changed.
We began to enjoy each other’s company. We would eat together during lunch, brainstorming ideas for our novels. She enjoyed writing romance, and it was evident that she was a romantic herself. She dreamed up heartfelt scenes, gushing over the smallest detail. I chuckled at those times, secretly memorizing what she would like to happen when a guy asks her out.
At times, she would question me on my own writing style. Through the time I had spent with Esther, I had realized that writing was actually enjoyable, finding I had a natural flair at writing detailed-filled scenes. I always told her of one single idea I firmly kept; a fantasy where a serf fell in love with a princess, and fought to be a knight in order to remain close to her. The first time she heard it, she had giggled with amusement. She teased that I was more of a romantic than her. My heart pounded at that moment, hoping she was hinting at being more than friends. But the moment passed, leaving me disappointed.
By the end of the school year, our relationship had developed to the point we were visiting each other’s homes. My parents smiled at the sight of Esther, complimenting me for being able to secure such a girl. After those conversations, Esther bluntly pointed out that I was blushing, which I firmly denied.
My friends egged me on, tired of my awkwardness whenever I was around her. I responded to their encouragement with a plastic baseball bat. They stopped their attempts soon after.
During the summer of that year, Esther and I went to a writing workshop presented by a local college. My love for writing had grown to the point where Esther had commented that I was more enthusiastic to write than her. As her parents drove us to the college where the event was being held, we babbled about our expectations. By the time we arrived, we were fired up with the thoughts of meeting famous writers and literary geniuses.
I was disappointed. The workshop was uninteresting, to say the least. Teachers lectured on writing techniques I already knew, amateur novelists begged for us to look at their books, and Esther was distracted by the formality of the event.
On the car ride back, with writing manuals and terrible novels sitting on our lap, we discussed the workshop. Much to my surprise, Esther had enjoyed the experience greatly. I could not bring myself to speak my honest opinion. She seemed to sense this, and, placing her hand over mine, she told me that next time she’d find something suited for both of us. She slowly approached me. Her parents looked away, pretending to be focused on the road. The scent of her breath drew me in, a hint of warmth hidden underneath the minty fragrance. The next part I’m sure you can imagine, as it is too embarrassing to explain what happened next.
My friends noticed a change in me. They commented that I wore an idiotic grin most of the time, my mouth forming unrecognizable words when they questioned me. They concluded, with smirks, that Esther and I were now dating. I replied to their smugness with a new plastic bat. My friends stopped questioning me about the events that occurred that day.
School resumed in fall. We announced the news of our relationship to our friends, who whistled and cheered. As we stood there awkwardly holding hands, one of my friends questioned how far we had gone. I brandished a newly purchased bat in front of him, and he fell into silence.
That school year was the best segment of my life. My classes went well, I made more friends, and Esther and I were going strong. The months passed quickly, a glorious time in which we deepened our relationship and our writing developed further. It was then when Esther and I made a promise. We took a vow to publish our works, to gain fame and recognition as writers.
We were well and truly in love. Many adults and even college students laugh at the thought of a relationship in high-school, but this was different. I knew that I loved her, and that she loved me. It was a tender romance, one that brings back fond memories even now. The times when we were apart, I felt as if time halted. Esther confessed that she couldn’t bear to be apart at night. When we were together, I was filled with joy, being glad just to be near her.
We spent the remainder of our high school years together. I spent most of my time with Esther, drinking in her presence thirstily. She responded in kind, and we spent many days together. Life was perfect at the time; it seemed as if nothing could go wrong.
But that’s when life usually pulls one’s legs out from under.
In this case, life was ripping my heart out, tearing it to pieces.
It was during the winter of my final year in high school. I had just finished submitting the remainder of my college applications and was awaiting a call from Esther. She usually called me around six at night, after she returned home from her tutor at a nearby after-school.
But this time it was different. Six came and went, leaving me paranoid. By the time the clock struck seven, I had called Esther’s cell fifteen times, unable to reach her. Realizing how much I was over-reacting, I tried to calm down, attempting to reassure myself that nothing had happened to her.
My cell phone finally rang at seven-thirty. I picked it up, eagerly awaiting her voice.
I do not remember when the phone slipped from my grasp, only faintly recognizing the sound of it clattering to the ground, still emitting the sound of Esther’s mother crying into the receiver.
Esther was dead.
Esther had been rammed by a drunk driver. The driver, an eighteen year old freshman in college, was driving back from drinking at a friend’s house. He fell asleep at the wheel, his foot still on the accelerator. His rampaging car swerved violently, narrowly avoiding many pedestrians. It plowed through a crowded street, finally coming to rest after slamming into only one person: Esther.
The paramedics had been immediately notified by the onlookers, arriving in less than few minutes. They took her to the emergency room and had begun operating on her in less than an hour.
They weren’t able to save her, Esther’s mom sobbed.
And just like that, Esther was taken from me. There was no dramatic scene beside her still body, no final farewell as I held her in my arms. Reality is cruel, and the reality was that had she passed away.
The next few weeks blurred together. I faintly recall my friends attempting to console me, giving up when I gave no response. When I met the killer at the court hearing, I tried to attack him, barely restrained by my parents and friends. He looked stricken with grief, yet I couldn’t feel any pity. I hated him. I remember cursing him in front of a news team when they interviewed me. The very fact that he was alive when Esther wasn’t was enough for me to condemn him to hell. I wasn’t around to see him sentenced; I had stormed out of the building.
The funeral was held on Esther’s birthday, March Fifteenth. Her family stood beside her coffin, crying their farewells. Her friends wiped away tears from the corners of their eyes, with lumps in their throats.
I stood to the side, unable to watch as she was lowered into the grave. I felt a hole in my heart opening, consuming all thought and emotion. Esther was gone, yet I could not even weep in despair. She was the light of my life, the reason for living. I expected myself to break down, clutching her tombstone as I wept for my best friend, my broken lamp, my lost love.
Yet I stood there, rigid and unmoving. I could only stare at the engraving on Esther’s tombstone, declaring to the world, my world, that she was gone.
It was nearing the end of the school year. My classmates seemed to accept Esther’s passing, as did I. The seniors were abuzz with activity; college acceptance letters were arriving. I was soundly rejected from my first and second choices of schooling. My parents worried that I may have to attend community college.
The first and only acceptance letter arrived to me exactly three months after the funeral. It was from a literary university; one that Esther and I were going attend if we were both rejected by our choice colleges. I dismissed it; I had given up writing after Esther’s death. I left the letter on my desk, leaving the house to visit Esther’s grave.
And there I met Esther’s father, a large, stoic man. The only time I had ever seen him show any emotion was during the funeral, where a trail of tears carved its path down his trembling cheek. As I approached the grave, he handed me a book and left without a word. After I recovered from my confusion, I read the title of the book, Of Writing and Romance.
It was Esther’s work, in published form.
She had kept her promise.
I read the book there, in front of Esther’s grave. Her words clung to me, leaving me breathless with suspense and anticipation. The work was brilliantly complex at times, yet heart-wrenchingly simple at others. As I finished the novel, I was left with a sense of release, as if Esther had conveyed her feelings to me in her work.
She had loved me, still loves me, even in death.
The tears I had withheld during the funeral began to flow. I wept in front of Esther, crying my lament to the unmoving tombstone.
I left the grave late at night after renewing my promise to Esther, a strengthened resolve to strive towards the future. My parents initially scolded me for coming home past curfew, but they quickly relaxed, pleased that I had rejoined the world. My friends were shocked by my sudden cheerful mood, as I had been in a stupor ever since Esther had passed away. They decided not to question it, however, even without the use of a plastic bat.
I began writing again, my motivation at its highest. The urge to keep my promise with Esther drove me onward, lighting a fire within me that could not be extinguished.
I will attend the literary college this fall, to improve my writing technique and to publish my first novel, using the one idea that stuck to me.
Thank you, Esther. For when you were with me, I was inspired to write. And when you left, when I thought you left, I didn’t have the will to write. But my zeal has been renewed, thanks to your lingering spirit.
It was a cliché romance until the end, but it was ours.
Together we could’ve gone so much farther.
Together we created entire worlds.
And I can keep on living, because I know you’d never forgive me for giving up.
I love you, Esther. I will never forget you.
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See everything, Overlook a lot, Correct a little.