I remember getting dressed, putting on my black and pink school hoodie and a pair of raggedy blue jeans that I cared nothing about. Sneakers. I pulled my dark hair back into a ponytail. The rubber band didn't match. Like I cared.
I remember climbing into my car, grasping the steering wheel with a zombie-like determination. My mom charging out of the house. "Oh no you don't, Ava. You are not driving. Not like this."
"I'm going to the school, Mom, whether you want me to or not."
"Then let me drive. I'll take you."
I shuffled over to the passenger seat of my car, recalling that I hadn't been on this side since I was first learning how to drive, freshman year. Cade's seat was the back seat in those days. I always called shotgun and he always let me.
A lone tear trailed down my cheek, but I rubbed at it until it went away. I was not going to cry.
We pulled into the high school parking lot. It was about one in the morning, technically a Wednesday, six hours after Cade's body was found.
It took us ten minutes to find a parking spot.
The football field was filled with a glowing iridescence. Half our high school had to be out there, and anyone else in town who had heard about what happened. I stumbled through the moist grass, wading through the thick silence with an expression on my face that showed nothing. I could feel all eyes pointed in my direction. I could almost hear the whispers.
That's his best friend, Ava Simone.
How could she not have known?
Maybe she did.
And then I was swept into the crowd. A waxy white candle was pressed into my hand, and its flame flickered eerily in the night's gentle breeze. The entire field was filled with the glowing lights, a sky of stars, bringing purple spots to my eyes.
"I'm so sorry. We loved him too. Here, get up to the front. Do you have anything to say? He was such a good friend."
We've had six student deaths in the last twenty-three years of our high school, not including Cade's. Two were car accidents, one for medical reasons, one accidental overdose on crack or something, one was killed in a gang shooting, and one was a complete fluke... he fell out of a tree and hit his head on a rock.
This was the first suicide.
I'm not exactly sure why we all know to come to the football field. It's not like it's a planned thing. But when somebody is gone forever, you can't help but feel a longing to find them again. Like they simply got lost in the woods and you have to search them out. You gravitate to the place where you best remember them, where they last spoke to you. When you lose someone like... him, you can't just sit at home, curled up on the couch with a blanket over your head, smothering away reality. You have to keep moving, keep living, keep searching. You just keep searching and searching and searching.
But sometimes, no matter how long or how hard you search, there will never be any answers.