I was finally a senior. High school was virtually over and I could be an adult at last. The four year prison of torturous ridicule and social ruin were coming to a close. I could get a job, I could find a boyfriend, and I could start doing what I loved. Of course, if I ever made it to graduation, life would have been perfect. Instead, I decided getting a ride home from one of the most popular girls in school was worth more than my life, even though I knew she was high. Instead, I died when I was seventeen.

I was a pretty normal teenager. I wasn’t super popular and didn’t have a lot of ‘hang out’ friends. But, pretty much everyone knew me – no thanks to my unfortunate, porn star-esque last name – and no one really hated me. Sure, I was teased a little, a few rumors were spread about me, but nothing too serious that damaged me for life.

During the freshman and sophomore phases of the ‘best years of my life’, I only had one best friend. Her name was Shea. I know; weird, right? When I was a freshman, I got stuck in choir when I really wanted to be in drama. I remember griping to my mom the first and second days of high school, telling her she HAD TO GET ME OUT OF IT! But, by the end of the first week of my puny existence, I met Shea. She was nice and befriended me right away. Not because I was ‘fresh meat’, but because she remembered what it was like to be a Stranger in a Strange Land (pardon the pun). Shea was pretty, popular with boys, and totally silly. She and I spent a lot of time together, but she was two grades above me.

When I was a sophomore, Shea went through some tough times and ended up missing a lot of school. She and I had a falling out over – can you guess? – a guy. But it wasn’t because we were both fighting over this guy (yeah, right); it was because I didn’t think this guy was right for her, and she wanted to marry him. Turns out, he was cheating on her with two other girls. When he dumped her, she had a nervous breakdown and disappeared. After coming back to school looking thin and happy, she started flirting, and I started hurting. I was pretty pissed off when she dumped me as a best friend and fawned over another girl in class. Now that I look back on it, the other girl had some rough times, too, so I guess they had more in common than Shea and I did. Something in me wondered if Shea had had an affair with our teacher – seeing as he unexpectedly quit at the end of my junior year due to a ‘divorce’ with his wife – but I never questioned it or her. It just wasn’t really any of my business.

Once Shea graduated, we didn’t really talk much. She dropped by my parent’s house a few times; sporting new boyfriends and making me wish I was out of that small town. But we just fell out of contact. Toward the end of my sophomore year, I started hanging out with a very old acquaintance. Originally, Sherry hated me when we were in eighth grade. Why? I don’t even remember anymore. But after seeing her instant message avatar was a Japanese animation character that I liked, we started talking again and soon became best friends.

The summer between sophomore and junior year, I got my first boyfriend. Now, this isn’t counting my kindergarten crush, Trevor – who liked trains, by the way (Trevor and I were going to get married before he ignored me at that daycare picnic when we were seven). Jim was my first ‘proper’ boyfriend. He asked me out and everything. I was so excited, I could barely breathe. The conversation went something like this:

Jim: “I’m bored.”

Me: “Yeah, my mom’s coming to pick us up. She’ll be here.”

Jim: “I know something that will make this more exciting.”

Me: “What?”

Jim: “Will you go out with me?”

Me: (and right about here, I shrugged so nonchalantly, I should have patted myself on the back, too) “Okay.”

Jim: “Really?”

Me: (another shrug) “Yeah.”

Hey, Jim, how lame were we? I mean, we went out for two months, I didn’t even get my first kiss, and then you dumped me for your ex. I wasn’t even really upset when he called and said we should have just been friends. I just said whatever and moved on. Besides, I had Sherry to keep me company. She and I had become fast friends. So fast, in fact that some idiots at our school asked us if we were lesbians. Let me just take this moment to explain something: Sherry and I had something in common that we couldn’t really share with anyone else. We liked Japanese animation. Some people call it cartoons, others call it art. The bottom line is, at Dublin High School, if you liked Anime, you were not cool and no one that was cool would want to talk to you. So, Sherry and I hung out together everyday because we had no one else to hang out with.

Junior year went by pretty easily. I got decent grades and managed to steer my choir career in the right direction. I took PE during summer so I could keep my electives open and take choir all four years of high school. Everyone lucky enough to hear me squeak out a few notes of my favorite songs in the car told me I had a great voice, so I kept hiding in the back corner of those risers, blending in with the other choir geeks. But I never worked up enough courage to go for that all-elusive solo until I was sixteen.

I had managed to convince Sherry to join choir with me when we were juniors. She was tone deaf (sorry, Sherry, but it’s true and you know it), but she agreed so I would have someone in the class I knew. Toward the end of the year, I finally got it together and auditioned (in front of the whole class, might I add) for the lead on a song called The Boy from New York City. Something told me I was barking up the wrong tree, but after years of my parents trying to push me into anything artistic, I did it anyway. When the day came for the teacher to announce who’d be getting the part, I held my breath. My heart was beating so hard I was afraid the whole room could hear it. My palms were sweaty and my throat was dry. Not only was I instructed to sing the beginning of the song, but I was given the entire ending solo, too! I was so excited, I called my parents right after class and squealed the news to them through barely audible syllables.

Needless to say, I was on cloud nine. The pretty girls in class were being nice to me and smiling at me. They congratulated me and said I had a great voice. I decided not to try out for the solos on the other song we’d be performing at the winter concert because I didn’t want to be selfish. I practiced like crazy for that song. It was my baby. But, two days before the concert, the teacher eight-sixed it, saying the background vocals just weren’t cutting it and we’d look like fools going out there unprepared. Can you guess what happened next? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I cried like a baby. I was angry and disappointed in my teacher, in my cowardice, and in my foolishness. Why didn’t I audition for one of the other songs? My stupid humble attitude jinxed me out of a grand freaking solo. My only freaking solo. After that, I stopped trying.

And senior year came. Oh, how glorious it was not to have to take math or science. To be able to ace all the courses because I didn’t really have to try was like heaven (another pun, I know. I’ll explain later). Choir was pretty great that year. We had a new teacher who couldn’t really handle some of the students who were only there to get an A for doing nothing. But, a lot of the freshman in the class looked up to me because I was older and had been there for four years. Not to mention I was just nice to everyone. But, that was the year that Carla and her drones ruined the class for me.

See, Carla was a sophomore with a head too big for her shoulders. She acted like she owned the place. I’m not sure if her parents were rich, or what, but she was just a downright b-i-t-c-h! Always following her around like lost puppies were Kayla, Keesha, Trina, and Trina’s younger sister Breanna. They hung out in this ‘holier than thou’ group with their noses always in the air. We all know the stereotype, but I never thought I’d see it in choir. I mean, Trina and Brenda had okay singing voices, but I never heard any of the others. They boasted all the time about their ‘professional’ experiences in the field, but come on!

Anyway, one day in class, Carla came up with this ‘brilliant’ idea that the veterans of the class could be in charge of small groups of students to better train us for concerts. Granted, the idea was fantastic, but she was talking about herself – who, may I remind you, had only been there for less than a year. I remember turning to Sherry and saying, “I guess that counts me, huh?” and kind of smirking. I watched Carla give me the Ice Queen’s Death Glare from across the room and wondered what it was she thought I’d said. Later on, she tried to confront me, but I ignored her and counted down my days to freedom from the hell hole. However, those days were less than I could have imagined.

Holy crap! I have gone through this whole diatribe without even introducing myself. Let me fix that issue right now. Hello, my name is Katie Bunny and I’m seventeen years old. On December 10th, 2004, just thirteen days before my eighteenth birthday, I got into a car with a teenager under the influence of drugs, and died sixteen and a half minutes later. This is the story of my second chance at that grand freaking solo.