A Tragedy of Epic Proportions


Clare Shanahan, Editor

Due to a series of middle school mistakes, my friends, to this day, have a habit of making jokes that I “get around,” ironic considering I’ve been on like four dates in my life. I guess when you’re in middle school, dating for four hours is considered a SERIOUS relationship. It was one of these mistakes that landed me in the situation which almost ended my life. Almost. But, let’s back up a bit.

In middle school I was a MESS. Lanky, awkward, and a massive nerd. Not to mention, so pimply I looked like I had been hit in the face with a medieval mace. Repeatedly. Not exactly the picture of beauty, but when the seventh grade dance came around, I was still hopeful. It was going to be the biggest event of my life.

The dance drew closer and closer, girls had their dresses, a theme was chosen, DJ hired, and still nothing. One night, as I sat at home in my room accepting that I would be alone forever and ever and ever and I would definitely never be happy again in my entire life because going to the dance alone was the END OF THE WORLD, I got a text.

“Hey.”My stomach back-flipped, cartwheeled, and front hand sprung. This wasn’t just any text; it was from Jake Finley, the most drop dead gorgeous, incredible, amazing boy, formally known as Jake Finley, Cutest Boy in School. My head started spinning, WhatcouldthishieroglyphicpossiblymeanwhatcouldIsayhowcouldImakemyself seemcoolyetapproachablewhatifheNEVERWANTEDTOTALKTOMEAGAIN. Finally, I settled on the text that I felt was the perfect combination of cool, approachable, flirty, fun, and mysterious.


Hitting send, I sealed my fate.

“Could you meet me under the tree at recess tomorrow. I wanna ask you something.”

“Yeah, totally :)”

“Cool, see ya :)”

My heart raced at 2000 miles per hour because I knew this was my moment. He would ask me to the dance and I would obviously say yes, and then we would date for 10 years and at 23, after attending the same high school and college, we would get married and move into a big old country house with three dogs, a cat, and some horses, have twelve kids, and stay there until eventually we grew old enough that I would die and he would die the same day of a broken heart so we would never have to live without each other. It was the beginning of the rest of my life.

The next morning, after what felt like a century of waiting, it was time. I burst out of the back door of school, and there he was waiting for me, Jake Finley, Cutest Boy in School.

“Hey, Jake, what’s up?” It came out as a squeak. Chicken nuggets! I was so awkward! I could immediately tell he wanted to take back everything and leave, vowing never to speak to me again.

“Well, um, I was just, uh, wondering if you would maybe, uh, want to go to the dance, with, um, me?” Wow, what a romantic! Even after everything he still wanted to go with me!

“YES! I mean. Uh. Yeah, totally.” I smiled and walked away. I put on a “cool” front, but my heart was on the verge of spontaneous combustion.

So, long story short, the dance came and went and it was INCREDIBLE. A bunch of sweaty prepubescent tweens in ugly dresses jumping around to bad music in a middle school cafeteria is exactly what I had hoped for! After the dance, Jake asked me if I would be his girlfriend, and of course I said yes. I mean, how could we get married if we never started dating? We went to the movies once with like twelve people, super romantic, I know. More importantly, we texted all the time. Everything was perfect!

Until it wasn’t.

“Hey,” Jake texted me one night at about 9:30.

“Hey <3 (:”, I responded quickly; he couldn’t think I was ignoring him.

“Yeah, um, listen, I think we should break up.” I could feel my entire future ripped out of my grasp and shredded, obliterating any hope of putting it back together.

“Ok,” I barely managed to type out before I was consumed by overwhelming and crushing depression. I texted all of my friends, but no one could fill the Jake shaped hole in my heart, so instead, I cried. And cried.

Now that I’ve droned on for three pages about nothing at all, we’ve made it to the most humiliating moment of my life. No. Big. Deal.

The next morning at school I walked around like a zombie, with no purpose or drive. At some point I found myself at my locker pulling out books. As I found each one, it was carelessly dropped on the floor just out of my sight. Suddenly, I could feel a presence behind me. I spun around and there was Tim, one of Jake’s goons, holding my book.

“Look, Tim, I’m really not in the mood. Can you just give that back?” I muttered, barely caring enough to try.

“Oh what, Clare, can’t take a joke? Come on, I’m just messing with you,” he taunted. Up to this point the book was just out of reach, but now he passed it off behind him to another goon lying in wait. At this point I was really mad. Why would they even care enough to mess with me? There were so many better targets around. Plus, I was going to be late to class.

“Jesus, Tim, why are you doing this? It’s seriously not funny!” I ran by him towards the other boy, grabbing for my book, but I didn’t see it anywhere. Great. Now in one day I had gone from the happiest girl on the planet to a boyfriendless, futureless loser, who had to go on some wild goose chase for a book I didn’t even really care about.

Across the hall I saw it, nestled below a few others in the bottom of an open locker. Great, that other goon must’ve hid it. I crossed the hall and dropped to my knees to reach it.

As I dug through the books, a familiar voice behind me made everything clear. What was left of my heart exploded out of my mouth and dropped right on the floor. From there it hopped up and sprinted away, just like I wanted to do in that moment.

“What the hell are you doing in my locker?” Jake asked, with a level of judgement I had never come close to experiencing. I turned around and there he was, glaring down so hard he burned right through the hole where my heart was supposed to be.

“I. Uh.” I stammered and clammed up, trying for 100 years to say anything at all, until, deeming my efforts hopeless, I grabbed the book and ran away.

For the longest time, I regarded that as the day I basically died. There was no coming back from what they had done and I probably should’ve dug myself in a hole forever and ever. But I didn’t, and here I am alive and well to tell this story three and a half years later.