Death of a Hero

The wind blew a gentle breeze, the pool water was rippling, and the sun was shining without a stormy cloud in sight. The day started as it normally did. I woke up around 9:30 am, ate breakfast, and pulled out a good book to read. As usual, Mom came in an hour or so later and told me to pick up my room and to make my bed. Once I did these things, I went back to reading until it was time for lunch. After lunch, I changed into my bathing suit and headed out back so I could go for a swim. The cool water would feel good on my sweltering hot skin. I had to apply sunscreen, then let it sit before I could get in the water. Once the sunscreen settled, I got on the edge of the diving board, preparing to do a back dive. My hands were over my head, my knees were bent, ready to jump. I leaped backward, sinking in the water. I stayed under for a few more seconds with my eyes open, looking at my siblings splashing underwater. Then, I came up for air, climbing the ladder, doing it all over again. I dried off later so that I could get ready for the festival. It was taking place in the evening, so it would cool down, but not much. The temperature would still be in the lower 80s, so I had to dress for the occasion. I decided on wearing my denim shorts and a t-shirt. My family saw some friends. My older brother, Jase, saw his friend and his parents, so we went over to greet them. After a few minutes, my dad got a phone call. I assumed it was a conference call, but after a while, his eyes started filling up with tears. Dad never cried, so I knew something was wrong. My parents were talking in hushed tones, looking at Jase's friend's family from time to time. I remember it so vividly, the tears carving paths down Mom and Dad's faces, me crying because I was scared. “Annabelle, you and your siblings will be staying with the Keith's for the rest of the night, and we'll pick you up later, okay? Something bad has happened.” I can hear Mom's voice, but nothing else. What could have happened that was so bad? I nodded, and went with Jase and his friend, making sure my younger siblings followed. I was walking further and further away from the shrinking family I have. I was walking with a normal family, with normal kids. I couldn't help but wipe my tears away, hoping I'd fit in with such an average group. For once, I wish I could live in the land of statistics and averages, just so I didn't have to feel my hands shaking. So I didn't have to feel the hot acid escaping my eyes. I tried to have a good time at the festival, but all I could think about was the sorrow in Mom's eyes. I lurked in the shadows, watching as Jase laughed. How could he laugh when there is sorrow beside him? I wasn't mad, but I remember being confused, anxious, and scared. Why was Jase laughing? When we arrived at the Keiths' house, I followed Jase and Grason out to the trampoline in Grason's backyard. I got on the trampoline and started bouncing, hoping I could laugh and be as carefree as Jase and Grason. Soon enough, I was laughing and smiling as if nothing was wrong. Oh, how easy it was to smile like that. My face was carved into a grin and glowed brightly as a Jack-O-Lantern. I felt guilty for laughing. How could I be happy when something tragic has happened? I had a gut feeling that someone had passed away, but I didn't know who, and I didn't know how. I went back inside and watched TV while sitting on the couch. I saw Kenzie and Elijah playing with the dogs. It was all okay. It was close to 10 pm when my Aunt Sarah came to pick us up and take us home. Mom and Dad were not yet home, so she made sure all of us were safe and under the roof we were used to living under. Aunt Sarah called us all into the living room, and she tried to break the news to us gently. “Have you been worried about Josh?” She asked tentatively. Josh is my Dad's youngest sibling and my uncle. "Josh died. He passed away earlier today.” I saw tears in Jase's eyes, and I had tears running down my face. None of us had expected such a sudden death for such a young person. He was only in his 30s. What had he done to deserve such a horrid end? The next morning I had asked Mom how Josh died, and she said she didn't want to tell me at the moment. I understood that, seeing that the information was still so fresh and that everyone in my family was pretty close to him. “Annabelle,” Mom came into my room a few hours later“Josh committed suicide.” Josh purposely killed himself, shot himself in the head, just to escape his being on Earth. I wept as I held on to that thought. He died on PURPOSE. Suicides happen all the time. I was aware that some people wanted to die, I never thought it would be Josh. He was always there for me when I hit my lowest lows. He always listened when I needed to vent. He was my hero. I guess even heroes have to die sometimes.

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