Yellow sunlight crept in through the windows that lined the hall, but through the aged and dirty glass it only managed to cast a sickly fraction of its full potential. It had been years since I had last been here, and many of my memories had become obscured by time. It’s funny how the mind works like that, the things we remember, because it is the things I would most like to forget that have remained the most vivid.
I didn’t want to be here. When I walked out of those doors so long ago, I had sworn to never return. I swore I would never mention or even so much as think for a moment about this damn school. But she wanted me to come. She told me if I would just do this one thing, just come back one more time, she would be happy. And God knows I owed her that.
She would be waiting, that’s what she said. She didn’t tell me where, because we both knew she didn’t need to. I would find her where I’d left her on that last day.
My heart was pounding, matching the rhythm of my steps as I walked down the forsaken hall. I passed by the countless classrooms, all mirror images of one another, and I stepped around the desks flipped on their sides. The tragic remains of old books lay like the corpses of the forgotten, their pages decaying beneath my feet.
There, at the very end, I knew she would be. Waiting. For a few moments, I forgot how to breathe and I feared I wouldn’t reach her. That I would fail her again. But, then it returned and my vision cleared. I stood in the doorway.
It was empty. This room, more than any other, had truly been abandoned. Or perhaps it was avoided. She was there, in the center of the room. Her hair the same faded yellow as everything else and her eyes hollow. Her feet hung limply in the air, and the rope still held its deadly grip on her neck.
I had brought my own; I knew it would make her happy. She always told me that she was so glad she had someone like me, someone who was always by her side. And I would be one last time.
I looked out the window before us; at the weakened light and at the carcass of a butterfly that lay on the sill.
Perhaps that’s all this school had ever done, held us back from our full potential.