April 15th, 2007:
I was struggling through my second semester of general engineering as a freshman at VT, I never planned on going to college, honestly I thought I'd be in Iraq with the USMC by that point in my life, but a wonderful hippy high school girlfriend talked me out of that, and I made it into VT early decision by the skin of my rural Appalachian teeth. I'd snagged a job at West End Market in the pizza shop with a gaggle of hilarious frat boys, community service workers, and some genuinely good people. One of them was Leslie. I remember how excited she was for her soon, oncoming 21st birthday that night, and she also lucked out into working the register that night. The cushy job, way better than the serving lines where students wouldn't listen as you called out their orders and it was a regular 90 degrees behind those catering racks.
We had just entered the evening dinner rush, so pasta, bread sticks, garlic bread, pizza, and calzones were flying off the serving line as fast as we could make them. Except strombolis, no one ever ordered those bready abominations. I felt a sneeze coming on, a pretty wicked one, and I managed to rub it off into my sleeve a few times, but I couldn't hold it any longer. So I had two options, blow aerosolized mucus all over the serving line, or turn and shoot it into the sink. I made the obvious decision.
Unfortunately Leslie also decided that would be a good time to run some pizza orders back to our pizza tossing guy, and, well, world's collided. I sneezed all over that poor girl, to that point she was without words, and I was completely horrified. Then she started laughing, not cursing, not yelling, but laughing. Because that's who she was.
I apologized, our group of misfits survived another dinner rush, and then I apologized again, because what else can you do in that situation? We finished cleaning up, I wished her a happy birthday in absence, and said I'd see her next weekend for our shift. One step closer to finals and finishing the academic year.
April 16th, 2007
I had an 8am geography exam that I hadn't studied for, thanks Mario Kart. But hey, I could do rocks, walked in, answered some questions, mic drop, time for some DX breakfast. On the walk up towards Dietrich Hall I noticed the unnecessarily large group of police cars gathered around West AJ, didn't think much of it, and got my biscuit and retreated to the comfort of Pritchard Hall, 7th floor. Then the emails, texts, and calls started. It was almost impossible to contact anyone that morning, every cell tower was over loaded. We all knew it was bad, but we just stayed in our lounge, where we could kind of see across the drill field to Norris, and waited and hoped for it to end.
I didn't learn the damage until about 5pm that day, but Leslie was murdered, as well as my friends Mary and Jarrett. I remember feeling numb for the rest of the day, my friends knew I was fucked up, and took me to Hokie Grill to get some dinner. I remember eating a Chic-Fil-A sandwich (no pickles) and losing it. All self control gone, just weeping without end into a goddamn fried chicken sandwich. My friends got me out of there as soon as they finished dinner and I just collapsed in my dorm room on the floor.
Every day I think about them, and every breath I draw I do the most I can for whoever I can. Because everyone likes to push the dead into sainthood, but those three were about as close to perfect as I've ever known. Kind, smart, and driven to help others. And that's how I plan to live and die, for those who had their lifes cut short.
And that's all I have to say about that.