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
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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. George’s right hand clasped his wife’s 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. George’s eyes fixed on the bouncing green line of the heart monitor, slower than his own pulsating heart. He squeezed his wife’s hand and sighed. The past two days had proven to be a tremendous test of their faith.
“I’m going to get a cup of coffee. Want anything?” 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.
I’m sick of all of you. Every person I know. I feel like my insides are boiling over and I can’t stop it. There’s so much wrong in my life. Everything is all messed up.
Let’s start with school. I hate going to school. All those classes with stuff I could care less about. I tried and tried, but couldn’t get good grades like Geoff. I’ll 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 wasn’t 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 there’s those guys who push me around, call me names, steal my stuff. Can’t 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. I’m sick of being the older, responsible one. Have to share everything. No privacy. All those rules about the computer and curfew and chores.
I can’t see anything changing or ever getting better. This is payback for all the times everybody hurt me, for everything you did or didn’t do to me.
Janice’s 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 hadn’t 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.
“It’s time.” Janice jumped as the doctor’s sharp voice stabbed the sterile air.
Janice and George reached out, grabbed Justin’s 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.
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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