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3 Jessica Fromm Shadow Narrative Broken Trust At seventeen, most teenagers look at life as an open door ready to be crossed through without hesitation or forethought. It is a time when so many new and wonderful changes are taking place. Driver’s licenses are within everybody’s reach and freedom soars to new heights. No longer do we need our parents to take us to and pick us up from wherever we need to go. The only question that arises now is “can I borrow the car?” That is of course, until we get a car of our own, because every high school senior receives the right of passage into the senior parking lot and the ability to finally skip the big yellow school bus and drive back and forth to school. I vividly and happily remember waving to the poor little freshman waiting on the corner for the bus as I pulled out of my driveway, and on my way to pick up my best friend Julie who lived directly across the street from me. It was exhilarating, as they watched us drive ourselves to school, even though we would spend at least fifteen minutes in the traffic of getting into the senior parking lot. It was the same situation coming home, although with spring in the air, the exhilaration then came from racing to the mailbox in search of college acceptance or rejection letters. With the winding down of high school also comes the very contagious “senioritis,” which runs rampant through the hallways and classrooms. So, with a car at my disposal, an acceptance to the college of my dreams and a bad case of senioritis, the only thing left to do during senior year was go to parties. There were so many parties that often we would go from house to house, meeting up with different groups of friends and spending carefree nights of fun. At seventeen, most teenagers also begin to push the envelope with their parents, by staying out later than curfew and breaking house rules. Peer pressure was always an issue, yet more so with the loosened restrictions that senior year brings. Kids are experimenting with drugs and alcohol more than ever before. Parties were usually in someone’s house whose parents were either out for the night or away and often consisted of beer pong and large red solo cups everywhere you look. I will admit that I really did not like the taste of beer that much and would usually sit with cup in hand, sipping slowly throughout the evening, never quite feeling “buzzed.” However, that was soon about to change. Julie’s parents were going away for the weekend, leaving her alone in her house. Of course, she planned to have a party that weekend. It was not going to be a big party, because Julie’s parents warned her repeatedly that if anything happened to the house while they were gone, her car would be on the line, and also, my house is across the street and any loud noises would send out the red flag to my parents as well. So our plan was to have just a few friends over to hang out. The plan was for us to somehow get some alcohol to drink. I knew my parents would never buy me any alcohol, so I asked my older brother. His response was “I feel really


4 uncomfortable doing that because if mom and dad find out, they would kill me and probably you too, so my answer is no!” I begged and pleaded and stated my case, referring back to the time when he wasn’t old enough to buy his own alcohol, but that did not help my case, as he shrugged and said he found his own ways. I was pretty mad at him. As the party approached, Julie and I scrounged up some booze, but definitely not enough. I felt frustrated, desperate and I suppose in the heat of the moment, I planned my next move. I knew that my brother kept his own supply of alcohol in his room, so. I planned to wait until he went to work and then sneak into his room to check out his stash. The next day, Julie and I waited for everyone to leave, tiptoed in to the room and began filling up empty water bottles with a variety of alcohol that he had. We poured from each bottle that was already opened. There was Everclear, Smirnoff vodka, rum, tequila and something called Rumplemints. We felt as if we hit the jackpot. However, as I was pouring, I saw that the bottles seemed a lot emptier and I did not want to leave any signs that he would notice. So, I filled the empty space in the bottles with water, which in hindsight was a rookie mistake. We finished up as quickly as we could and left his room. Feeling guilty, we looked for places to hide our stash until that weekend. On Friday night, Julie’s parents left with the words, “Remember, no parties and watch the house,” echoing as they drove off in their car. We had invited about twenty people who would be coming over at about nine o’clock. Two other friends came over earlier to help set things up and get something to eat before people started to arrive. We set out the bottles that we had all collected and felt like kids in a candy store. The suggestion to “pregame” came up and we decided to take a few shots before all the others would arrive. This was my first time doing shots, so my advice from the others was to do them in one swoop, not sipping, nor tasting what I was drinking. The first few burned as they went down and made me feel as if my breath was taken away. The Rumplemints was not that bad, leaving a minty aftertaste, but the tequila burned on its way down and that feeling stayed with me for a while. The girls decided to stop and get something to eat before we would do anymore drinking. “Good idea!” I thought. I called my mom to tell her we were going to Fridays to get dinner and would then come back to Julie’s house. We piled into Julie’s car and drove the three minute drive up the road to Fridays. As I began to read the menu and order my food, I had a very weird feeling come over me. I felt my eyes tear and feel blurry and the room began to feel like it was spinning. I broke into a sweat and told my friend that I felt sick and needed to go to the bathroom. I ran with her running behind me, as I barely made it to the toilet to throw up. I really do not remember very much else, except for the pieces that have been filled in by my mother. Apparently one of my friends called her and told her that I got sick in Fridays and she should come to pick me up. They found me in the bathroom with my head in the toilet throwing up. I just couldn’t stop. The story after that was a blur. My mother was wiping down the toilet seat that my head was resting on to clean it. When I finally stopped throwing up, my dad had to pick me up and literally carry me out of the restaurant. My friends had to explain what really went on at Julie’s and why I was so sick. At


5 home, I slept on the couch in the family room, not being able to make it up the stairs to my bedroom. I can best describe my feeling as spinning not in relation or sequence to other things around me. When I closed my eyes I experienced it as well. It was awful, yet I just kept falling asleep. The next day I woke up with my mom sleeping in the family room with me, bucket and towels by my side, a banging headache and a very empty feeling in my stomach. In the days that followed, I had time to reflect on that night; along with so many things I regretted doing. Of course, my brother found out that I had taken his alcohol. He was also having some people over that same weekend and put some of his bottles into the freezer to get chilled, only to find that they crystallized and froze from the water that I had added to them (my rookie mistake, not knowing that alcohol does not freeze, but water does). “Busted!” and feeling terrible about doing that to him. I felt awful about sneaking into his room, taking something that did not belong to me, disregarding what he had said to me, and finally seeing the look of disappointment in his and my parent’s eyes. The feeling of upset that came over me created a sensation that began in the hollow pit of my stomach, rising slowly towards the pounding in my heart, and getting stuck in the lump of shame that could not be swallowed down despite numerous, exaggerated attempts. I certainly learned the hard way that mixing alcohols definitely does not work. Just as mixing too many colors of paint yields you a puke colored mess of colors, so it applies to the mix of alcohols in one’s stomach and the puke mess that it yields as well. And last but not least, a mistake that I will always regret but one that I learned a lesson from, was to never, ever allow anyone of my friends to drive anywhere when they had been drinking, nor should I have ever gotten in the car with someone who had been drinking. What were we thinking, or not? As for my punishment, my parents certainly agreed that I had learned a lesson about drinking the way that I did and would remember that feeling for a while. They spoke to me about it, expressing their hope that I would realize how harmful drinking like that can be, and how lucky we were that we all came out of this experience okay. For me, this was a wakeup call to realize that not only could we have gotten hurt but we could have caused others to get hurt as well. As for that, both Julie and I had our cars taken away for one month and were back standing at the corner bus stop with the freshman, waiting for the big yellow school bus to take us to school. Lesson learned!


Jessica Fromm shadow narrative