The Immortal Yearbook Picture
An obedient golden retriever waits by the front door of a modest, middle-class house in a small town. A town where everybody knows everybody, where people are humble, and where old ladies with short curled hair spread gossip in black faux leather chairs at the local hair salon. The owners of the modest house are your parents who have decorated the living room with your smiling yearbook pictures since elementary school, the golden retriever has been your best friend since you got him in sixth grade, and the clock on the wall above the mantel reads 6:00 PM. You normally arrive home at 5:30, you normally open the front door to see the familiar wag of a golden tail and feel the wet nose of your best friend press against your hand. Your parents are used to you texting them whenever you leave. That text was an hour ago… Your mom proceeds to make supper, she reassures herself you’ll be home by the time she finishes the Hamburger Helper and sets the table with four plates: one for your dad, you, your sibling, and herself. Your dad sits in “The Chair” situated by the window, continuously looking out to see if you’re turning into the driveway yet. Both parents’ hearts fill up with trepidation, but they ignore this feeling, pushing it away as mere superstition. Your dog, waiting by the door, will never understand why you never came home again after you texted while driving. 6:45 PM, the phone rings, startling your mom and dad from the disquieting air of eating the cold Hamburger Helper without your presence at the table. On a normal day, you would be discussing what you did at school to your parents… Your mom gets up, looking into your dad’s eyes with mutually understood but unsaid emotions. She picks up the phone and asks in a shaky voice “Hello, who is this?” into the phone, hoping that the bad news she dreaded would not be affirmed on the other side of the phone. Your parents will never forget that call… if you were alive, you would see your dad cry for the first time. Your parents rush out the door, both in fear and in false hopes to prove that maybe they were wrong, that it wasn’t their baby. Your parents climb into the family car, not knowing if they should get there as fast as they can or get there slowly because they are not ready for the horrors of reality waiting for them. They will never forget having to stand on the side of the highway, your dad standing stoically and your mom crying with her hand over her mouth, as they waited for the officer to lift the white sheet covering you as if you were dressed up for a ghost for Halloween again. They will never forget seeing your mutilated and lifeless body lying on the asphalt. To this day they blame themselves for your death and bargain with God to take their life instead of yours, let it be them who lied cold and motionless, not you. But all pleads are in vain, it’ll never bring you back, and it will never prevent you from texting while driving again. You never graduated high school. Your parents never got to collect more yearbook pictures of you every year to frame in the living room. Now, the wall containing your pictures becomes immortal with Sophomore year because you will never grow older. Now, your last text goes down in infamy: lol, but who’s laughing now?