One year ago today, a friend of mine, 14-year-old Alexei Baureis, was hit by a car while crossing at a crosswalk, and died.
It was unbelievable. We grieved, many of us for the first time in our short-yet lives; we cried genuinely and painfully; we caressed roses; ever-so-slowly, we learned to live with the unimaginable.
History exists and gains relevance in accordance with the amount of active remembering among the living. Many of us have stopped actively picturing Alexei every day. We’ve continued facing the monsters of our lives and, in doing battle, let slip away the not-immediately-relevant—namely, the dead. I hope that even as we slip back into our everyday struggle, Alexei will occupy a space somewhere in our limbs where we can hear his voice once in a while. Especially as we cherish the memory of him on days like today.
365 days since incredible pain. 365 days of grief, guilt, slippage, normalcy, in some permutation.
Here is to many days more, and to the memory of the boy who changed our lives in one way or another.
Isabella – 6/7/2017,
It sinks into her rib marrow; the red spot shudders and rips open her dead chest. Expanding bullets, the first death of the night—Wukesong intersection… Wukesong intersection… did you hear? the countdown starts here—10pm, the first death hour—10:30pm, they blockade the Muxidi bridges with up-turned trucks and burn it all a rancid purple… military tanks, military rams piercing the broad metals like pencils through palms… so they face the wide row of leveled points, arm on stranger’s neck, chests to the sky!—11pm, they’re in Tiananmen Square, survivors saturated and staggering with blood, retching Wukesong! Muxidi! and they throng and conglomerate (do we hate? do we kill?) in a reddening mind-haze—12am: Red, the quiet girl from the front-row of Economics, has been killed.—12:30am, they raw and boil, they glaze and squint: the damp smell of salty copper is thickening their skulls, they wait, roaring, scraping their necks—they deserve this much—or the force of the spin tears their sense and they scrape the green men’s necks—their sticks, rocks, and glass are taken by each other—1:30am, the Square is sealed with military: booms whiz over their heads, or into their knees—2am:
“We entreat you in peace, for democracy and freedom of the motherland, please refrain from using force against peaceful student demonstrators”
and boom! sophomores convulse and bleed out—3:30am, too many have died, should they give it up—4am, traitor, coward, what leader you are: “Clearance of the Square begins Now”—they remain anyway, the bites of the clubs in their cheekbones and shattered thighs:
“This is the final struggle / Let us group together and tomorrow”
they are engorged and stomach-tight on conviction! they stare into the night-green tank guns!
“The Internationale / Will be the human race”
and they’ve died a little too many…
—5:10am, it’s over, it’s over: they rise, they link arms and march over the icy cheeks of their friends.
Smoke rises over the city.