My high school wasn’t normal.
It was a private college prep school with a very close-knit community. All of the teachers lived on campus, all of the students knew each other by name, and 70% of the kids lived in the dorms there. Students from all over the country and the world came to my high school to receive a “higher form” of education. While I’ll be the first to admit that high school definitely wasn’t easy in any way, the sense of community my school provided was nice. The closeness brought us all together but, when tragedy struck, it hit us all in a very personal way. At the end of my senior year, a girl in my class committed suicide. Her name was Wren, and she was beautiful and smart. She was an artist who had the whole world ahead of her, who was supposed to graduate less than twenty days after, and in one night, she was gone.
The night she died, I was at a film premiere. My movie that I had worked on the entirety of my senior year was being screened for the first time in a packed room on campus. The night she died, I was worrying about my actors being there for the premiere, about the popcorn machine working correctly, about how many people would show up to see it. I was busy celebrating a year of hard work, with close friends and family, while she was just a few buildings away, ending everything. I understand that I couldn’t have known, couldn’t have done anything. Wren and I weren’t close, but we shared several classes together. I saw her every day, and sat next to her in my AP English class. I wasn’t one of her good friends, and she wasn’t one of mine, but I knew her. I knew that she loved English and poetry, and that she was always quick to come up with quirky solutions to problems that weren’t easily fixable. I was horrified to find out the next morning that Wren had committed suicide, but even more so when I thought about what I was doing at the exact same time.
The community was heartbroken. I found myself thinking and crying and thinking and crying so many times in the days following her death. The teachers didn’t know what to do or what to say, they were just there for us if we needed to talk. We held several vigils for her, and at graduation, they placed a vase of wildflowers on the stage to honor her. She should’ve been walking across that stage with the rest of our class, she should’ve gone to college and lived a full life. Sometimes I look at her Facebook page, at the information bar that says which college she planned to attend, and I find myself wondering why. The truth is, I’ll never know. I don’t need or deserve to know, I just know that it happened, and that I wish it hadn’t. Her name was Wren, “Like the bird” she’d always say. Wherever she is now, I hope she’s found her wings again. (Alana King / City of Stories Student)