It Happened That Night

By Amber Chamberlain, Guest Writer

I woke up to a strange woman screaming “Thank God, she’s awake, she’s awake!” I couldn’t feel most of my body. I didn’t know my name, or who the woman was that was screaming with tears rolling down her cheeks. I opened my eyes ever so slightly to find people dressed in all blue, surrounding me. That’s when I realized that I was in a hospital. I couldn’t remember how I got there, or why I was there. All I knew was my arm was wrapped in a black cast, my head was killing me, and there were strangers all around me.

“Jorden, can you tell me what today’s date is?” A tall skinny male, dressed in a blue uniform appeared from behind the woman who was hysterically crying. His nametag read Dr. Harris.

“Um, September 16th.”

It was the day after my best friends 17th birthday. A day that changed my life the most and I vaguely remember it.

The doctor clicked on a small pen-light and aimed it into my eye. As the light beamed into my pupil, I saw the car’s headlight that was beaming into my car through the windshield as I ran that red light… the last thing I saw before waking in this place. I turned my head quickly away from the doctors light; I didn’t want to remember anything else.

“Are you the mother?” Dr. Harris asked the woman whose sobbing was softening.

That crying woman is my mother.

“Yes, is she okay?” the woman gasped.

“She has a mild concussion, slight memory loss, and a broken arm. She can go home today but she will need to take it easy, no physical activity at all, she is very lucky, ma’am”.

Lucky? I thought.

“When will she be able to return to school?”

School? They expect me to go back to that place? That’s how I ended up here in the first place, and they want me to go back?

That’s when I remembered. Memories of everything that happened that night hit me like a train going 200 miles per hour, or perhaps a car going 40.

It was the 1st week of school, the first week of my junior year. “This year is the most important year of your life!” They pounded in my head. I rushed off to my first period class, English. I was the last one to arrive so all heads turned at my direction. I noticed a few of my friends, so I took a seat next to them. I glanced at the clock every thirty seconds, waiting for the bell to ring. It seemed as if every time I looked at it, it still read 8:55. Finally the bell rang and everyone scurried out to flood the halls. Whispers here, whispers there, whispers everywhere, I wish I knew what all the whispers were about. I found my seat in chemistry, next to my middle school crush, Jason Underwood. He was the high school quarterback and I could have written a novel on all the things I loved about him. His short brown hair, his perfect blue eyes, his pearly white smile, he was simply perfect.

“Hey” he said, making me blush. “I am having a party tonight, and I think you should come, it’s going to be fun.”

“The preacher’s daughter?” one of the other football players asked, chuckling. “Come on man, I know she’s hot but you can’t be bangin’ the preacher’s daughter, unless you plan on going to Hell.”

I hate how everyone sees me as the preacher’s daughter it’s like I have a special title that defines who I truly am.

“No, I’ll go” I said blushing even more as the bell rang. “Just because I’m the preachers daughter doesn’t mean I don’t know how to have a little fun” I gave a seductive wink, flashed a smile to the boys and walked off.

That was only my first mistake.

By the end of the day everyone was talking about the party, it was a wonder how the teachers didn’t hear. My friends and I decided on all going together, and of course I was the one who had to drive.

I got home to an empty house shortly followed by my younger brother dashing through the door, lobbing his backpack on the couch and heading straight for the refrigerator. Meanwhile, I stood in front of the double doors to my closet pondering what I would wear to the party. I remembered my older sister had a few boxes of old clothes still at the house so I took a peek through them. I opened the box to the smell of must and laundry detergent… disgusting. I pulled out a mini skirt and a shirt that didn’t cover my abdominal area. My sister owned this? I threw on the clothes and stood in front of the mirror staring at my reflection for what seemed like forever. My father would never let me leave the house wearing this. Bang! I heard the car door slam. I threw a sweater over the top, and slipped into a pair of jeans. I galloped down the stairs to find my mother and father now sitting at the table.

“Hey mom, I was wondering if I could go see a movie with my friends tonight?”

“Sure honey, as long as your father doesn’t mind.”

I put my bottom lip over my top lip and widened my eyes.

“You can go” he said, giving in to my puppy look.

“Thanks guys!” I said nervously. “Oh and by the way, I won’t be home till tomorrow, I’m going to stay at Amanda’s and work on school work.”

I grabbed the keys, kissed my mom and dad, and walked out the door.

I actually got away with it.

After picking up my friends, we arrived at a log cabin about 3 miles away from any main roads, houses, or buildings. There were trees all around us. Red, green, and blue lights were flashing from inside the house.

“What are we waiting for? Let’s go!” my friends yelled.

We ran inside to find over two hundred people. People playing pool, people in the pool, people making out, people smoking weed, people playing beer pong, people everywhere! Jason spotted me from across the room and ran over to give me a hug. He smelled like a 40 year old chain smoker covered in Miller Lite. I hugged him anyway and took the red cup he offered me. Although I was nervous to drink it, I did anyway. After the first one, I couldn’t stop.

Things were starting to get blurry in my mind when all of the sudden the doctor walked in and handed my mother discharge papers. Thank God it was just a dream. I was finally free to get out of that place, and I was hoping the nightmares would stop. We started heading home when we came to the red light, the only red light in this small town. The light flashed yellow as we were approaching, causing my mother to slow down rapidly. Thick drops of water were pouring out of the sky, and smashing off the windshield. When we came to a stop, I looked out the window to find people gathered on the sidewalk, some were placing teddy bears down on the wet sidewalk, some were laying flowers, and some were crying and hugging. What is going on? There were at least three different news reporters there, all standing in front of a small white cross with purple ribbon dangling from the sides. Next to the cross was a picture of a small blonde girl who looked to be the age of seven or eight. Her f ace looked so familiar but I could not remember where I had seen it before. I looked up at the light turning green and just as we were in the middle of the intersection, headlights from oncoming traffic were being magnified through the windshield by tiny droplets of rain. Déjà vu.

I stumbled to my car trying to fight back tears. I couldn’t believe Jason would do that to me. I thought he was my friend. A million thoughts were darting through my mind as I started up my little Dodge neon. The headlights pierced through the dark woods when I noticed the silhouette of a tall skinny female. It was my best friend. With tears in her eyes, she begged me not to go.

“You can’t even walk, let alone drive!” she screamed repeatedly. “Just stay and we will leave in the morning!”

“I have to go!” I shouted as I felt my trembling hands pull back the gear shift one notch into reverse.

Silence filled the car. I could barely see where I was going due to the effect of the alcohol when all of the sudden tears filled my eyes making it nearly impossible to see. I turned the radio on and turned it up as loud as it would go to drown out the silence. Headlights from oncoming traffic were now being magnified by my tears. I saw the light turning yellow from nearly 200 yards away, but instead of hitting the breaks, I slammed my foot on the gas. I can make this I thought. I saw headlights coming towards my car getting closer and closer and neither of us were slowing down. I tried to swerve but turned the wheel the wrong way. I was woken up 5 minutes later by the sound of sirens and flashing lights. I remember seeing the bloody face of a blonde little girl. I knew something was wrong. She wasn’t crying, she wasn’t screaming, her lifeless body just lied there on the cold cement. I am a monster!

“Mom?” I whispered. “Did… did I do this?” I said beginning to cry.

She gave me no answer. Just a look that said it was an accident.

“I did this!” I screamed. “That little girl has no chance to live a long and beautiful life and it is all my fault! She had no choice” at this point I was bawling.

Now every day when I drive thru that red light on my way to school, when I see that cross and that picture, I will feel worse and worse. It’s a feeling that is never going to go away. I will have to live with knowing that I killed someone. The probation will only last 6 years after serving 2 years in a juvenile detention center, but the guilt will last forever.

But once again I have to go back to school, the place I dread going to the most.

As soon as I enter the building, or a room, whispers fill the air. Whispers here, whispers there, whispers everywhere. Nothing’s changed here.