One Too Many
“It’s a snow day,” my mother whispered in my ear as she reached down to kiss my cheek. I fell back asleep with such ease like nothing was wrong in the world. I woke up at 8:50. I wanted to go back to sleep but there was something drawing me to my phone. I had a pit in my stomach. There was something wrong, not just in the world, but in my world. “Something’s wrong,” read the text from Sunny, followed by another text, “Something happened to Rob.” I had another text from his sister, “Robert was in a car accident. He is alive but unconscious. I thought you should know.” This is something that happens in movies, or in books, not in my small town. Robert had been in a car accident. He was speeding at sixty miles an hour down a hill. He was texting. He drove straight into a tree. He had only had his driver’s permit for a month; he did not even have a license. He was life-flighted to Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine. He had swelling in his brain, as well as internal bleeding. There were days where the outlook was positive. There were days where the outlook was negative. I never dreamed to receive the call I did on March 29th, 2016. Robert had passed away. Seventy percent of his brain was liquified. He was taken off life support and was not able to breathe on his own. He passed away with his sister and father by his side. That is what he would have wanted. I sat down on the curb in front of our school. A few months before I had been his first kiss. A few weeks before I was sitting in the living room with his sisters. He sauntered in, the way he walked the hallways at school, telling his jokes, and making us cry with laughter. A few days before I was sitting next to him in English class. One empty chair at an empty desk. Almost two years later and there are still days where I catch his mom staring at a picture. Every time she walks by his bedroom door she stares longingly at it. No one ever goes in there. We have a silent agreement, shared throughout our friends. We all put our cell phones in the glove department. We all turn the volume down a little lower. We all watch our speed a bit more carefully. We all do what Robert did not do. There should not be any more empty chairs at empty desks. There is already one too many.