Friday, November 6

The Circus Act

        When Nathan’s mother called me I knew that something had happened.
There were police cars in Nathan’s yard, with yellow tape stretched all over the house, from the rickety gate that was tilted slightly to the side, to the vegetable garden filled with squash and pumpkins, perfect food for the closing of fall. I don’t know exactly how the bike and I separated, but somehow we did, the blue bike skating into the middle of the road, and my body tumbling to the sidewalk. The blue and red lights from the police cars slowly flashed across the pink scrapes on my hands and knees, skin slightly peeling off.
Not caring about the horrid sting, or my bike, which was probably going to get run over, I leapt to my feet and rushed into the house. I burst into Nathan’s room, his mother standing by the door. She put a hand on my shoulder as I surveyed the room. The only difference was a rope, hanging from a hook on the ceiling. The lantern that used to swing there was discarded on the floor, and a stool was right underneath the rope.
I understood.
“No,” I breathed. I looked desperately to Nathan’s mother, who was holding an envelope in her hand. There were more on the desk, labeled “Gracie," “Daddy," and “Mommy.” The one that Nathan’s mother had in her hand was labeled, “Vivace”.
She gave it to me, lip quivering. “I had hoped, that he would be strong enough to survive the bullying,” she looked around the room once more. “but, obviously, I was wrong.” She took a deep breath in. “You were his best friend, Vivace, and were the one who helped him stand up straight, no matter what the other kids said about him.”
She thrust the letter into my trembling hands, stumbled slightly, then left the room, mumbling,” You should have just one more time to be with him.”
I stared at the white envelope in my hands. Sliding my thumb beneath the seal, the letter inside stared up at me. I opened it, to see Nathan’s tiny printing filling the whole letter, front to back in dark purple ink.

Dear Vivace,
You were right when you said that this year was a circus, when you said that everyone played a role. You were the trapeze artist, the bullies were the clowns, and our classmates who stood and watched were the acrobats. And I was the tightrope walker.
At the beginning of this year I was falling from my tightrope. I was holding on with just the tips of my fingers, slipping closer and closer to falling. But when you came, every day I grew stronger. Every day that you helped me, protected me, was my friend, I stood up a little taller. I stood up high on that tightrope again.
But I’m sorry to say that I failed you. Every time when you were not with me I was pushed off my tightrope. I was pushed until I couldn’t hold on anymore. And so I fell.
I’m sorry that I fell, Vivace. I’m sorry that I couldn’t hold on any longer. I’m sorry that I have to end my life. I just can’t go on like this anymore.

Your best friend,
Nathan Puller

I sank down to my knees in disbelief. He was gone. The bullying that I had worked so hard to protect him from had overwhelmed him. He was gone.

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