No Two Totally Different
by Jeannette Benoit, age 16, Canada
The summer sun beat its rays down upon the lake in smooth,
golden streams. And just as it hit, it was reflected back up
into the soft, blue sky as if it had hit a tiny sliver of a
broken mirror. It was Father's Day, and basically everyone in
Lloydminster was gathered at Bud Miller Park for the annual
Father's Day celebration.
Just like every other year, there were food stands, puppet
shows, water balloons, and even a dunk tank. Everyone was enjoying
the day, even though the sun was intense enough to melt the
monkey bars. The little kids were all playing in the playground
on the swings and slides. Some of the bigger kids were playing
hide and seek in the tree maze. Young couples wandered the stone
paths hand in hand, while older couples walked their yappy dogs
around--straining to keep up. From far above, Bud Miller Park
could be compared to a busy anthill, swarming with thousands
of warm little bodies. No two exactly the same, but no two totally
different. Little did these innocent citizens know that one
of these tiny bodies had a slightly disturbed mind.
* * * * *
Walter had had a rough childhood. He never really knew his
parents. His father died when he was just a baby and his mother
couldn't cope with her husband's sudden death, so she turned
to drugs as a form of false comfort, eventually leading to a
deadly overdose. Walter had been passed on from foster home
to foster home for at least twelve of his seventeen years, and
the moment he turned sixteen he was free. He had been saving
up from a part time job and had just enough to pay the rent
on a one-room apartment. That was his ticket out of his horrible
foster home, which he hated with a passion, and eventually out
of school because he had to get a job to pay the rent money.
Lately Walter's life had taken a more positive twist. He met
this girl named Mel when he was sixteen. They both worked at
the Husky Truck Stop. She worked in the restaurant, and he pumped
gas and worked the till. Some might call it love at first sight;
others might call it a disaster waiting to happen. Their relationship
bloomed over the months, and they became very close, although
Mel's parents weren't crazy about Walter, since she was from
a good home and it seemed that she would have no future with
him. Her friends didn't like him much either because he was
very possessive of her, and she would often come to school looking
tired from a long night of arguing with him on the phone.
After the first bruise and a whole lot of tears, she broke
up with him. But in spite of what her parents, friends and teachers
told her, she still gave him another chance to prove himself.
He always seemed to be able to squeeze his way back into the
picture. They tried starting anew, but the verbal, mental, and
physical abuse continued to hit Mel hard, until one day the
light came on in her head. She knew what she had to do, and
she did it one day. She told Walter it was over for good. He
was heartbroken, because she was the only person he had ever
loved in all his life. But instead of being sad or crying like
most people would do, he dealt with his feelings in more violent
ways. At first he threatened suicide. He would phone Mel every
night and tell her he was going to slit his wrists, and that
it was all her fault. But Mel was strong and did not get sucked
into his trap once again.
When he realized that suicide was not going to work, he started
threatening to kill her, her family and even her friends. This
was more difficult for Mel to deal with. For the first few weeks
she kept all his threats to herself because she was afraid of
him. She couldn't sleep or eat, and she was afraid for her life.
One day she decided she had had enough and she broke down and
told her parents what he had been doing to her for the past
three weeks. They immediately took her to the police station
to make a statement and demanded that something be done as soon
as possible. They didn't want their daughter to live her life
in fear. She was sixteen and it was supposed to be a fun time
in her life, not a living nightmare. Unfortunately, the police
told Mel and her parents that there was really nothing they
could do, since Walter was on medication and was seeing a counselor.
Her parents argued and argued, but it did little good. All they
did was call his house and leave a message on his machine warning
him to stay away from Mel and to stop calling her.
For the next two weeks everything went all right. Mel never
heard from Walter, nor did she see him. She felt a bit more
secure in public since her parents bought her a can of pepper
spray to defend herself, and she kept it with her at all times.
One night, after basketball practice, she returned to her car
to find a little note under one of the windshield wipers. It
read "I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME. WHY MEL? WHY? YOU HAD A CHANCE
TO CHOOSE LIFE. WHY WOULD YOU CHOOSE DEATH?"
Walter's signature was scribbled in at the bottom. She could
identify it perfectly. At first she was just shocked, then she
became very frightened, and she figured she wouldn't be able
to drive in such a state, so she got a ride to the police station
from one of her teammates. She ran inside, still clutching the
note in her hand, tears streaming down her fear-stricken face.
She talked to the same officer her parents had argued with before,
and begged him to keep Walter away from her. By the way the
note was written it talked about somebody dying. She just didn't
know if Walter had been talking about himself or her. And she
really didn't want to find out.
* * * * *
And now, four months later, Mel's life seemed to be normal
again. The way it was before Walter. She was at Bud Miller Park
for the Father's Day celebration, and she was walking around
the lake with her friends. Not a care in her mind, just like
almost everyone else who was there that day. The police had
assured her and her family that Walter had moved to a different
province shortly after the last note he left for her, and they
told her they'd keep an eye on him for her. Just knowing that
he was so far away made it a whole lot easier for her to pick
up the pieces of her shattered life and move on. And that's
what she had done.
But something about the day, or about the way the bright sun
glistened off the cool, blue lake reminded her of the walks
that she and Walter used to take together on warm summer evenings.
That all seemed so distant now as she thought about all the
things that had occurred between then and now. And instantly,
her good memories were overtaken by bad memories, and she fought
to get her mind on another track. The last thing she needed
was to ruin her day by thinking of Walter. And that was exactly
what she was thinking as she heard the first gunshot ring out.
The peace was shattered all at once by the gunshot and the
thousands of horrified screams that followed. The atmosphere
had turned from relaxed to intense in a matter of seconds. The
gun was being shot by someone in a black mask and a green baseball
cap, who now stood on top of the Parks & Recreation building
that was built just yards from the lake. The first shot was
just fired to grab everyone's attention, and it served its purpose
just as the masked man had intended. Everyone, including Mel,
stared up at the masked figure in horror. And as soon as Mel
caught a glimpse of his green baseball cap and faded blue jeans,
she knew exactly what was going on. It was Walter, and he was
back to get the revenge on Mel that he thought he deserved.
She took a few deep breaths, cleared her throat, and did something
that she never thought she could ever find the courage to do.
She began walking toward the building. It's about time for me
to face my fear, she thought. "What are you doing? Did
you ever once stop and think of what you are really doing?"
She called up to him in a loud, yet very controlled voice.
"What makes you think this is the answer to your problems?
Look at all these people down here. What did they ever do to
you? What did I ever do to you? You need to reach down into
your soul, past all the hurt and anger. Push aside all those
painful thoughts and feelings, and find your true self. And
when you find that true self of yours, ask him if he'd do what
you're doing right now. Would he pull the trigger or would he
climb down off the roof and start a new life? It's your choice.
It's your life. But please, please reconsider what you had planned
to do today."
That was all she could force out of her mouth before the tears
started flowing silently down her face. Everyone's undivided
attention was focused on the man in the mask. Thousands of innocent
people stared hopefully up at him, just waiting and wondering.
He slowly removed his mask and Mel was shocked to see that it
was not Walter, but a boy from her school. A boy who had never
been very popular and who a lot of the popular people liked
to pick on. He too, was now crying. Even as he unloaded the
other five bullets and dropped them into the rain gutter, the
tears kept rolling down his cheeks.
The crowd of people below him started clapping and cheering
as he dropped the last bullet into the gutter and set the gun
down. He sat up on that roof just crying, thinking, and looking
down at the thousands of little bodies. No two exactly the same,
but no two totally different.