If news travels fast in small towns, it travels even faster in small buildings. It took me two days to find out Liz was dead when I was twelve, but it took no more than a matter of minutes to find out about Jackie. When people think of suicide, they think about a young girlís poor family and friends who will forever be scarred by her absence. They donít think about the girl who walked into her room to find her roommate hanging and let out a piercing scream that would be heard throughout the entire building. They donít think about the awkwardness, sadness, and horror that fell over the building within minutes. They donít think about groups of terrified students standing in the hallways, unsure of what to do before the police arrived. They donít think about the fact that thousands of strangers would know before her parents. They donít think about police officers carrying a bodybag out of a dorm room hours later.
I didnít quite believe my roommate when she came into the room saying ďI think some girl just killed herself.Ē I don't know what I thought she meant, but I didn't think for a second that she was serious. I was sitting on my bed with Tyler, and we just looked at each other, silent and confused. My roommate grabbed a box of tissues and a water bottle and ran out of the room to take them to the girl who had just unleashed an unearthly shriek below us.
The entire building knew before the police did, and the entire quad must have known before they arrived.
I cried before I even knew who it was. I was standing outside on the sidewalk next to the building when my dad called to talk about a doctor appointment. He knew right away that I wasnít alright. I collapsed to my knees in tears as the snow fell around me and tried to explain in a mess of words what happened. I canít imagine how I formed a coherent sentence, but I must have, because the message got through. He asked a few questions, none of which I had answers to. I didnít even know who it was. Thereís nothing quite like knowing that someone you know is dead, quite possibly one of your friends, and not knowing who it is.
There was a shallow attempt to distract ourselves by heading to the tower and playing video games in Frankís suite, followed by trying to stomach chicken nuggets from Wendyís in the campus center, both of which were unsuccessful. It was in Frankís room that I found out it was Jackie. I felt sick. I wanted to collapse. I didn't have the energy to be awake, but I couldn't sleep.
We went back to our building, feeling sick after just eating. Second floor girls cried on the floor of our hallway, temporarily expelled from their hall as police officers below took the body out. I sat with Laurel, who sat against the wall wailing, reading and rereading her last text message conversation with Jackie and blaming herself for everything. ďShe was fine four hours ago!Ē she cried. It was hard to see a friend in that kind of pain. We all told her it wasnít her fault, that there was nothing anyone could have done, but thereís only so much that can be said.
There was a building meeting at 10:00 PM. They didnít say anything we didnít already know. Jackie had taken her own life. Everyone in the cramped basement room wore the same face and stared at the ground, trying with everything they had to hold it together.
Adirondack did not sleep that night. Noise was heard from all rooms and throughout the halls as people visited friends and hosted late night discussions about death, or more commonly, steering as far away from the subject as possible. Girls went to the bathroom in pairs. Everyone was terrified to be alone. People with extreme grudges asked if one another were okay.
Almost everyone in the building went home for the weekend. Possibly to be with their families, but most of them just needed to get away for a couple days. When Sunday came around and people returned, things were calmer, but still not okay. These kinds of stories never turn out okay. I've never believed in a better place, but sometimes I like to think she's in one.