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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Don't Cut off Your Nose to Spite Your Face" (without using the actual phrase or litera (02/14/08)

TITLE: Justin's Letter
By Seema Bagai
02/21/08


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Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

Gasp. Whoosh. Gasp. Whoosh.

The rhythmic sounds resonated in the tiny room in the intensive care unit. Janice and George sat stiffly in the hard, plastic chairs. Georgeís right hand clasped his wifeís left hand. In her other hand, Janice clutched a folded sheet of notebook paper.

The couple wanted to be anywhere else at this moment. They certainly did not expect to be staring at their fifteen-year-old son lying in a hospital bed, lost in a tangle of wires and tubes, surrounded by the machines of modern medicine. Georgeís eyes fixed on the bouncing green line of the heart monitor, slower than his own pulsating heart. He squeezed his wifeís hand and sighed. The past two days had proven to be a tremendous test of their faith.

ďIím going to get a cup of coffee. Want anything?Ē George whispered.

Janice shook her head. Once alone, she unfolded the letter and and squinted at the words scrawled in red pen. She had read the letter so many times, she could recite it.

To everyone,

Iím sick of all of you. Every person I know. I feel like my insides are boiling over and I canít stop it. Thereís so much wrong in my life. Everything is all messed up.

Letís start with school. I hate going to school. All those classes with stuff I could care less about. I tried and tried, but couldnít get good grades like Geoff. Iíll never be the smart kid my parents want me to be. I tried out for soccer and baseball. Rejected. The coaches said I was too clumsy and wasnít fast enough.

Last week, I got up the nerve to ask Tracie to the winter dance. She said she didn't want to be seen with a slacker like me. All the girls at school hate me. They laugh or turn away when I walk down the hall.

Then thereís those guys who push me around, call me names, steal my stuff. Canít even walk home from the bus stop without having to watch my back to see if they are going to jump out and beat me up.

Of course, my parents. They are always busy with work and the other kids. Iím sick of being the older, responsible one. Have to share everything. No privacy. All those rules about the computer and curfew and chores.

I canít see anything changing or ever getting better. This is payback for all the times everybody hurt me, for everything you did or didnít do to me.

Justin


Janiceís silent tears dotted the paper as George returned to his seat. Janice shuddered and sighed deeply. She kept hoping she would wake up from this nightmare and see Justin slouched at the dinner table or lying by the pool reading a comic book.

Moments later, their pastor arrived and spoke with the couple. They prayed together. Janice felt grief strangling her heart. She hadnít spoken since she found her son in the garage, locked in the car with the engine running. The paramedics tried to resuscitate Justin and rushed him to the hospital where he was placed on life support.

An hour ago, the doctors had told the couple Justin was brain dead. George called their pastor who said he would drive right over.

ďItís time.Ē Janice jumped as the doctorís sharp voice stabbed the sterile air.

Janice and George reached out, grabbed Justinís hand, and squeezed, not wanting to let go of their child. Their pastor stood behind them with his hands on their shoulders and prayed as the doctor switched off the ventilator.

Whoosh.

The heart monitor beeped shrilly. A nurse switched the machine off.

Muffled sobs resonated in the tiny room, mingling with an unspoken, unanswerable question.

Why? Why? Why? Why?


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This article has been read 759 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joy Faire Stewart02/21/08
This is very heartbreaking. I was hopeful Justin would survive.
Jesse Blair02/21/08
I love the letter. It is simple, down to earth, and real. What a heartbraking reality. When you say "tangle of wires," I thought he was in some awful accident.
Beth LaBuff 02/22/08
This is such a heart-breaking story that is a reality for some. You've written this very well. I hope your readers take it to heart. Thank you for writing this.
Jan Ackerson 02/24/08
A great discussion starter for teens, this is well-written and heartbreaking.
LaNaye Perkins02/25/08
This one hit close to home for me, but it was wonderfully written. You capture the anguish of the partents really well. Well done my friend.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/25/08
This is a tragic story, written so powerfully that we feel the grief with the parents.
Debbie Wistrom02/26/08
So perfect for the topic and what a wake up call to really see others around us. THANKS for the message.
Catrina Bradley 02/26/08
Oh how heartbreaking! I was so hoping they would turn off the machines and Justin would miraculously continue to breath. Well done.
Sara Harricharan 02/27/08
wow. This is so incredibly sad! Justin's letter was so real, I really really hoped that there was a 'better' way for him, but the ending fit the tone of the piece. My only note is the four 'why's' at the end...maybe 3 why's? lol. This was nice, you captured the grief of the parent's and the bitterness of the son, but did it in such a way that it makes you ache for both sides of the party. ^_^ Nice work! ^_^
Shirley McClay 02/27/08
SO tragic. And happens way too often. Great writing!
Loren T. Lowery02/27/08
This despair felt by Justin is so prevalent in today's society. We need more voices like yours to tell their story and to let the "outside" world know what is going on inside the hearts of those feeling so lost. Great writing!
Patty Wysong02/27/08
(thank you for the warning that it was a heavy!!)
You captured Justin's pent up anger--I could feel through the lines of his letter. Very well written and very thought provoking.
Rita Garcia02/27/08
Heartbreaking! Masterfully written and a message that we all need to take to heart.
Joanne Sher 02/27/08
Oh my. Seema, this is so heartwrenching and expertly portrayed. I was right there with them. Wow.
Joshua Janoski02/27/08
Wow. Very tragic. I wish that he had survived, and yet, so many times in life things turn out exactly like this. You really gripped my emotions with this one. The letter felt so real. Excellent writing. Thanks for sharing!
Sheri Gordon02/27/08
Wonderful writing. You had the emotion growing until the end, and you captured the final moment very excellently.
Celeste Ammirata03/03/08
This story is a very sad story about selfishness. His parents, for not being there for him, the kids at his school, for not caring about anyone but him, and mostly Justin's. He could have reached out to his parents. His letter was spiteful and revengeful and now he'll never know what a wonderful life he could have had. Very well written.