Honorable Mention: “Stop” by Emily Johnson

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Jordan Weiss is dead. The text message appeared on my screen and the cold porcelain seat under my bum stung. It was Friday night; I stayed in the bathroom and cried until my parents unlocked the door with the skeleton key. When Kaylyn and I went to the wake the next day, no one spoke. No kind words were said, no memories reflected upon, eulogizing deemed unnecessary. Our friend slipped away in the night all by himself. He was alone, and now we were too. Thirty of us stood in a circle around the blood stained spot in the street. It covered the “O” in “STOP.” Jordan stopped there forever. The silence lingered like the morning fog, but I wanted to scream until I couldn’t anymore. I thought about his head hitting the pavement with force, the sound it made when his blood splattered like a fallen watermelon. I dropped the roses by the curb on the residential street. Neighbors stood at the end of their driveways, remembering the ambulance that pulled him away. Some were confused to see a circle of teenagers silently staring at a patch in the road, but no one said anything. The blood was vermillion, still fresh like a newly painted room. When Kaylyn and I went to the memorial on campus we held hands. There his mother screamed into the microphone “I want my son back!” five times. Her voice echoed throughout the silent auditorium. My cries were muffled by Kaylyn’s shoulder. I didn’t say anything the rest of the day. No one did.

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