Silence and Sirens
I never knew him but I knew how he died, we all did. I had never seen his name but now I see it on a gravestone. It filled the newspaper, television programs, school gossip. People formulated stories about him: his laugh, his charm, his intelligence. They wanted to feel apart of his life even though it was too late for us all. “He will be missed” they repeated but I didn’t know you could miss someone you never met. But I do, I miss him, I miss the ignorance I had before I knew him. Before, I was not haunted by the sounds and darkness of the night. Right outside my house, the noise still replays like a broken record. The broken glass made my heart stop. I felt my insides tighten as the cars collided. A coalescing of two cars but a severing of his body and spirit. Floating away, away from the choices. leaving us to make sense of it all. The car lights resurrected the black streets. I thought of all the people it could be, my mom, my sister, my best friend. I traced through the names and shuddered in the silence of my possibly empty home. Without closing my eyes, I stayed up all night, hearing every fire engine come and go. Praying to hear something relatively good, but all I heard was silence and sirens. School became a tsunami of silent voices and destructive whispers. The people that knew him heard sirens when they woke up. Opening their eyes to the loss of a friend, a brother, a son. I’m reminded of him every day. I drive past his memorial, a shrine to his existence covered in pictures and prayers. Every holiday the colors would change. Blue and red to orange and black to red and green and all over again. Day by day, thousands of cars would pass by his face. His face wasn’t important to them, many went unfazed. He wasn’t their child or friend, just an image that would fade in their minds. But he could have been their loved one because it happens every day. Choices and promises are made and break like the glass of car windows. I didn’t know him, but I knew why he died. He drank that night, I’m not sure why, but it is irrelevant now. Because no breakup or bad test grade or peer pressure could have been worth it. It is never worth it.