Mon. May 16th, 2022

Jenna, Leila and Collin are left standing motionless, speechless, on the front lawn outside the house party watching Mike stumble away. He had his chest puffed and his fists clenched, trying to look manly and strong even though he is truly a low-lying coward. Hitting a girl, especially one you claim to love, is NEVER the answer. Collin and Leila stared at Jenna, everyone was still speechless. No one even knew what to say at this point. Then suddenly Jenna broke. She collapsed to her knees, covered her face and started to bawl. Collin and Leila immediately hugged her and whispered that everything will be okay.

After a few minutes of comforting Jenna, they pulled her off the ground and took her home. No one said a word the entire walk back. When they finally arrived at their dorm Collin hugged Jenna and left her in Leila’s hands for the rest of the night. Little did he know that this was going to be the last time he would see this beautiful girl that he immediately fell in love with the second he met her.

When they arrived in the room Leila broke the silence, “This may be a dumb question, but are you okay?”

Jenna looked at her for a second before finally responding, “Not at the moment, but I will be.”

Leila noticed a slight bruise forming just under Jenna’s left eye where Mike had slapped her. He must have hit her hard to leave a bruise.

Jenna noticed Leila looking at her with sad puppy- dog eyes so she asked, “What? Why are you staring at me like that?”

Leila didn’t say anything, she just guided Jenna into the bathroom and showed her. When she saw the slight bruise she took a sharp breath in and leaned closer to the mirror to get a better look. Then her eyes quickly filled up with tears and she started to cry again. This time it was a silent cry. She didn’t make a sound or even move, tears just fell down her face as she watched herself cry in the mirror. Leila wrapped her arms around Jenna, she rested her head on her back and hugged her from behind to show Jenna that she was loved and cared for even if it didn’t seem that way at the moment.

After a few minutes of standing in the bathroom silent, Jenna spoke up, “I need to go to bed.”

Leila was caught off guard, “Are you sure you don’t want to sit with me a little longer and maybe talk about what happened. Ya know, if you’re ready.”

Jenna shook her head, “No, I want to be alone and just go to sleep and forget about this night. It’s not even a big deal. He’s never done that before and he’s not gonna do it again.”

Leila started to get angry now, “Damn right he’s not gonna do it again because he’s never gonna see you again.”

Jenna shook her head, “I need to see him again to talk about it, to work things through.”

Leila was almost yelling now, “Jenna are you crazy?!?”

Jenna flinched when Leila’s voice raised, “Are you seriously thinking about going back to him? The reason he hit you was because you were trying to end things.”

“Exactly Leila, I tried to break up with him so he hit me, if I get back together with him then he won’t hit me anymore.”

“Jenna, if you never see him again he can never lay another hand on you.”

Jenna’s shoulders slumped down, “I don’t know any more Leila, I’m just gonna go to bed. We can talk about this tomorrow.”

Leila wrapped her arms around Jenna into a tight hug and whispered “I love you, it’ll all be okay. I’m here for you.” They both went into their rooms and ended this horrible night.

The next morning, Leila woke up early so she could be awake when Jenna got up. She went out and got each of them coffee and bagels for breakfast and had them waiting on Jenna’s desk with a note for when she woke up. Finally, after an hour or so, Jenna woke up. She walked out of her room and straight to the bathroom to look at her eye. A clear bruise had formed overnight under her left eye and it extended down to the top of her cheekbone as well. She then walked into Leila’s room and sat next to her on her bed without even saying a word. She got out her phone to see multiple texts from Mike, but she stayed strong and ignored them.

Instead, she called her mom, me, and told me the entire situation. From beginning to end, she basically told me about their entire relationship. I told her to pack a bag and that I was coming to get her to spend the night at home so I could help her through this. Jenna did just that. She had Leila help her gather her things and pack up a bag and then they just sat and waited for me to arrive.

Leila asked, “Are you gonna be okay?”

Jenna didn’t speak, she just shook her head yes.

Leila then said, “Well I’m gonna miss you tonight. I think this is the first night we’ve spent apart since the summer.”

Jenna hugged Leila “I’m gonna miss you too.” Then they heard a knock on the door, they were both struck with fear. What if it was Mike?

Leila checked the peephole and let out a sigh of relief. She turned around and said, “It’s just your mom.”

I ran into the room and hugged Jenna so hard you would have thought I was never going to see her again. I looked at her eye and brushed my fingers down her cheek, but she flinched a little. Seeing her like that broke my heart, but not as much as the way I saw her the next morning.

I grabbed her bags, said thank you to Leila and took her home. We were silent the entire car ride. I honestly didn’t even know what to say to her. Her phone was blowing up though, I could hear it constantly buzzing. I asked her once who it was and she told me it was Leila but I should have known; I should have asked her to see it. I later learned that it was Mike and he was saying terrible things to her, things that broke the final straw and led her to do something that I never thought she would.

When we got home, I made her favorite meal, but she only ate a little of it. After dinner, we sat in the living room cuddling and watching TV. When her dad finally got home from work he joined us and we had an amazing family night together. Little did we know it was going to be the last one we would ever have with her. When we went to bed her father and I both tucked her in and told her how much we loved her and that we would always be there for her. She told us she loved us back and thank you for everything. I thought she was just emotional because of everything that happened this weekend, but it wasn’t that at all.

When I went into her bedroom the next morning to wake her up for breakfast I saw something that I will never be able to unsee. I saw Jenna in her bed, motionless with an empty bottle of pills lying next to her. No one will ever be able to imagine what those next few moments were like. I screamed louder than I have ever screamed before. Her father came running, his jaw dropped and he jumped on her bed, shaking her, trying to wake her up but nothing was working. I called 911 but when the paramedics arrived there was nothing they could do either. It was like everything was happening in slow motion.

We had to bury our daughter days later. Mike contacted my husband and I asking to come to the funeral but we declined. Leila was there though and she spent a few days with us after that. She helped us around the house, cooked for us and went through all of Jenna’s things from college with us. Leila is an amazing girl and I see her once a month for lunch or dinner, but I have yet to see the same light in her eyes that I used to see. I can tell she misses Jenna and that she will never be the same. Losing a daughter or a best friend changes you in a way that you can’t know unless you experience it, which I hope you never have to.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

Camryn Meckley is a second-year student majoring in English with minors in linguistics and deaf studies.

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