"Is this on?"
Jules' eyes flick to the small television across the room as she takes her place in the faded velvet wingback chair. Her own face stares back at her from the screen, indicating the camera is indeed working. Out of habit, her hands run over her strawberry blonde hair. She twirls a curl around her finger and brushes her long bangs to the side. Satisfied with her appearance, she takes a deep breath.
"Okay, Hi," she says softly; her hand lifting in a small wave. "I'm Jules Blacklin from Tyler, Texas. Oh, crap. No, I shouldn't wave,” she tells herself.
Shimmying backward, she tries to find a comfortable sitting position; her sundress catching against the velvet nap of the seat cushion. With a low sigh, she moves to run her hand between her skirt and the chair. Freeing the fabric, Jules adjusts the dress again and crosses her legs daintily, while stealing another glance at the television screen to check her appearance.
She'd set up the small twenty-inch screen on a side table so she would be able to see herself as a video camera recorded her story. Although now the camera only makes her more uneasy. Sitting here, watching herself speak to nobody makes her question her sanity. It feels like something a crazy person would do.
With a thoughtful eye, she watches herself lean forward and rest her elbow on the armrest, and decides to go with the pose; thinking it makes her look studious.
"Okay, yeah...that's good," she speaks aloud.
With a demure nod of her head, she begins again.
"Hi. My name is Jules Blacklin, Hillsdale High class of twenty-fourteen. I'm making this video essay as my contribution to the class of twenty-fourteen time capsule. I..."
She pauses; her mind blanking out for a spell as she smiles into the lens recording her. She takes a moment to steady her thoughts before continuing. "I want to tell you about myself. About what I've been through, and what the town of Tyler has been through. Winston Churchill once said, 'Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer.' Rest assured — I have endured. I have endured, and now I am ready to conquer."
Jules gives herself a mental high-five for remembering the quote and releases a deep breath. With her hands clasped, she leans forward in her seat. Her blue eyes stare directly into the red blinking light used to indicate the camera is recording.
"I'm inviting you on a journey. A journey through my senior year. Actually, if you’re watching this, then I'm going to ask you to be a bystander. See, I'm not making this for you. I'm recording this for the ones who didn't live, the ones I will forever be mindful of. For the ones I knew, the ones I didn't...and especially for the ones I loved. This is for you."
Uncrossing her legs, she leans back in the chair again; her eyes continuing to connect with the nameless faces that will someday watch this DVD. She settles back for her long story, her finger tracing the scrolling pattern across her skirt. She gathers herself, her thoughts and memories. It’s only a few moments — a flash of time — but for her, in her mind she sees everything. Once more, her pale gaze meets the lens and she decides where to start.
"Let's begin with your ending. The last night my life was normal. The last night we were all normal."
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