Tuesday, January 08, 2008

16x365: Leanne

All summer the news followed the developments: the brutal murder of a teen-aged girl, the suspects, the guilty stepfather and the tearful funeral, where her grandfather placed a single eagle feather on her coffin before it was lowered into the ground, to honour her aboriginal heritage. Watching the footage it was clear that she was a really special person, that everyone in her community knew her and she had touched everyone she had come into contact with. The whole town was devastated by her absence.

And in all of this I somehow missed the fact that the town they were talking about was my own, and she had not only been a student at my school but in the same grade as me.

I walked into Latin on the first day of school to find that our teacher had rearranged the room into a circle of chairs around a single, candlelit table with her picture in the middle. We had to share our memories of her, because not only was she in my grade in my school, she had spent an entire semester in the same classes as me, sitting right behind me, and nothing I did seemed to be able to summon any sort of memory of her at all.

When the baton was passed to me to speak, I whispered that I wanted to pass, and our teacher, thinking that I was overcome by emotion, skipped me. It's probably better that way.