Life was all good in the very small town of Gatlin, TN. The town was so small that it didn’t even show up on the state map. There were three schools. The high school, middle school, and elementary school. Jessie was a sophomore who everybody knew. She tried to blend into the shadows, but could never quite make it there.
She was always dragged back into the light by Axel. Axel was a 6-foot, 200-pound, jock with chiseled cheekbones. He was the star quarterback on the football team. He always put everybody down, especially Jessie, because he had daddy issues at home. The only reason Axel targeted Jessie was because she was the only one who knew. Nobody had noticed the bruises on his wrist or the stench of vodka and whiskey, but she did.
She had offered some kind of support, but Axel turned her down. In turn Jessie became Axel’s own punching bag. At first it started with verbal abuse. Axel was always calling Jessie a ‘fat pig,’ ‘stupid,’ and the ‘ugliest girl alive.’ Jessie took this because she knew it was true. When Axel ran out of words he used actions. Shoving, hitting, and tripping became the norm. Nobody ever noticed the increase of red lines on Jessie’s arms, or how much bone you could see.
Jessie had always contemplated ending her life, but she knew there wasn’t a heaven or a hell, just eternal darkness. If there was a God, then why would he allow this? Why wouldn’t he stop the constant nightmares that haunted her day and night? Who knew that this could all end with a single shot to the head? But she knew she couldn’t. She had promised her parents, who were now dead. She had always been haunted by the guilt of her parent’s death.
One night Jessie woke up with a loud shrill. The nightmares were the worst they’ve ever been. This time she saw a man, but not just any man. This man was one of the many voices going through Jessie’s head. The voices were always telling her to give up and kill herself. She tried to push them back, but they had grown stronger. Strong enough that Satan himself wouldn’t be able to control them. Jessie got up and went to where her mirror was hanging above her vanity.
There was a rifle laying across the desk. The demon from her mind stood behind her, and like a puppet master guided Jessie’s hands to pick up the gun. Jessie held it up to her temple. Relief flooded her because she knew that this horrific and miserable life was about to end. With one final breath Jessie looked out the window to see the sun rising. That was the last thing she saw before she pulled the trigger.
I wake up with a gasp in a pool of sweat. I am still in my room where I fell asleep last night. I have goose bumps and chills running up and down my arms from the dream you just witnessed. I still remember her. Jessie was in all of my classes. I always had the opportunity to talk to her and stop her, but I never brought myself to do it. Jessie had died a year ago today. Nobody was phased by her death, but it haunted me every second of everyday. There was something I could have down, so why didn’t I? I guess it was because I was cared about your popularity, or I didn’t want to be ridiculed and criticized like Jessie was. But now that doesn’t matter because she’s dead. I visit her grave often to talk to her and apologize for what I never did. I have vowed on my life that there would never be another Jessie again.
I will call them my people, who were not my people; and her beloved, who was not beloved. -Romans 9:25
by Noelle Janae