Summer of 1996

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

My story is about how the decisions we make affect our lives and others.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone say, by making one insignificant choice, how in the blink of an eye your world can be turned upside down, in that second your future can be altered and your soul can be shattered. I used to make fun of people like that, they always seemed so unnecessarily dramatic. I never did like dramatic people, I still don’t. I’ve come to realize tragedies are always dramatic (maybe that’s why people are fascinated by then) and just because I don’t like drama, doesn’t make it go away, neither is ignoring it, I’ve tried that to, trust me it really doesn’t work. Statistics show there will be, at some point or another, a traumatic event in everyone’s life. I’m going to tell you about mine. So find somewhere comfortable, sit back, take a breath, because this is not going to be easy for you or for me, and try to learn form my mistakes. My name is Jackie Anderson, and this is my story. I grew up in a small town outside Savannah, Georgia where no one locked their doors at night and the only entertainment was Friday night high school football, were the whole town shows up. The only crime to speck of, was the occasional speeding ticket and maybe every once in a great while a fight would break out at the one and only bar in town on a Saturday night but not much else. There wasn’t even anything interesting in our town history. It’s just a sleepy little town where parents want to raise their children away form the crime and danger of a big city and where teenagers dreamt of leaving to find something bigger and better in those same big cities. All that changed on a hot muggy summer night in July of ‘96. I was so excited, it was my 18th birthday. I remember waking up that morning, lying there in bed thinking how in only just a few short months, I would be leaving this small town, how I would go to some big city, any big city and conquer the world with my writing. What I didn’t realize at the time, that on the very next morning after I wake up, I wouldn’t be thinking of conquering the world. That because of the choices I made on the night of my 18th birthday my soul would be shattered, my world would turn upside down and my future would be forever altered. My best friend Lisa her parents were going to be out of town for the week. Lisa along with my other two best friends Kim and Jewel decided to throw me a birthday party (the kind you don’t tell your parents about) at Lisa’s house. My parent thought I was going out to dinner with Tyler, my boyfriend, then going over to Kim’s to stay the rest of the weekend. Tyler came by to pick me up at 6:00 pm. Before I ever go out on a date my parents have always sat both me and Tyler down at the dinning room table and say the same things: “Drive carefully” my dad says to Tyler “You are driving around with precious cargo in your passenger seat.” Wear your seat belts, absolutely no drinking or drugs, Jackie be at Kim’s house no later than 10:00 pm, have fun, enjoy your birthday and we love you both. My mom gave Tyler and I both a hug then sent us out the door. When Tyler and I arrived at Lisa’s, the party was already in full swing. Tyler being varsity high school quarterback for those last 2 yrs and me being head cheerleader and senior class president, as you can imagine Tyler and I both had always been relatively popular, so Lisa’s house was packed. We had always liked going to parties and hanging out with our friends, nether of us drank alcohol or did drugs even though some of our friend did. I had never judged any of them. It had just always been a personal preference with both Tyler and me. A few days before the party Tyler and I were talking and had decided to maybe have a few drinks at the party. Both thinking why not, it isn’t like we were doing any harm, it was going to be fun. Kim and Jewel were a lot like me, never drank alcohol or did drugs, Lisa didn’t do drugs but her parents let her drink as long as she’s was at home with them. As soon as Kim and Jewel found out I was drinking they both joined in. Lisa met Tyler and me at the door, pointed Tyler to the rest of the football team there in the living room and the four of us girls went and started our night off in the kitchen with some margaritas. After about three margaritas and some other random drinks people just kept handing to me I was pretty drunk, Jewel stopped after the first margarita both Lisa and Kim were still drinking when I quit to head out to find Tyler. I remember thinking how can Kim and Lisa drink that much and still be walking. By the time I found Tyler I was feeling sick and I wanted to go home. But I had a problem; Tyler was just as drunk as I was if not more. When I told Tyler I need to go home because I wasn’t feeling good he said he was fine and he’d take me home. Even as drunk as I was I still knew better, we both knew better then to drink and drive. At that point I just didn’t care, I wasn’t thinking about my parents finding my drunk or about me lying to them all I could think of was how much I wanted to go home. With some difficulty Tyler and I made it out to his car. I don’t remember getting home or much after for that matter. I do remember my parent running outside in their pjs and how scared they both looked. Probably because neither one expected me home till the end of the weekend. My mom helped me to my bed and my dad put Tyler to bed on the couch. Later they would tell me we got home at 11:30pm and after helping Tyler to bed my dad call not only Tyler’s parents but Kim’s, Lisa’s and Jewel’s also. That night after puking up my guts I finally fell asleep and dreamt: It’s early morning; I wake to my parents crying, Kim, my best friend since we were about 5 yrs old, had been in a car accident, she was killed. After Tyler and I left, Kim who had drank a lot more than myself and was smaller than me, got into her car, didn’t put her seat belt on, didn’t turn her headlights on then headed towards the highway to go home, she was speeding the officer said, she was going at about 90 mph and driving on the wrong side of the road. Kim never saw the semi-truck coming, the driver who also wasn’t wearing a seat belt, didn’t see her in time to swerve, they hit head on. Kim died immediately, the driver who was thrown out the truck windshield, was in a coma. I woke late afternoon screaming out Kim’s name in a cold sweat with tears running down my face. My mother rushed into my room and held me until I stopped crying. It’s been 11 yrs since the night of my 18th birthday, I haven’t since that night, nor will I ever touch alcohol again. Every year around and on my birthday I have the same nightmare over and over again. I see my parents crying while coming into my room to tell me about what happened to Kim. The only difference is that now I don’t have my mother around to hold me until the tears stop and it really is a nightmare, not just the alcohol fogging up my brain. Kim really did hit that truck and driver, I later learned the drivers name was David; he was in a coma for a week before he died. David left behind a 3 yr old son who was named after his father and a wife who was 7 mos pregnant with a little girl. Anytime I look back on that day I wonder if Kim would have started drinking if I hadn’t, would she have gotten in her car to drive home if she hadn’t seen me do it first. Kim was the youngest in our group and ever since kindergarten she had followed my lead always wanting to do everything I did. I didn’t realize then what a responsibility I had but I do know if I could just have that one night back. God I’d do things differently. What would have happened if I hadn’t made the choice to drink that nigh? Would Kim still be alive, would David? How different would all our live be if one choice was changed? Every choice we make it will always have an effect on not only ourselves but on the people around us. I know Kim made the choice to drink and drive that night but a part of me will always feel some responsibility for what happened. Tyler and I made it home not only safe but without harming someone else. I will always be haunted by the fact that because of a careless and thoughtless choice my friends and I made a little boy will grow up without a father who will never be able to throw a football to him or teach him how to fix his car, a little girl will grow up and never know what feels like to be hugged by her daddy or hear him say he loves her, a wife will raise her children by herself, she will have no one to hold her a night and tell her she is loved and she doesn’t need to carry the burdens of the world by herself, a mother will never see her only child graduate from high school or see her daughter have a daughter of her own, a father will never hold his little girl again or walk her down the aisle on her wedding day, four friends who were more like sisters, will never spend another Friday night gossiping and talking about boys, they will never gather around a table and discuss the joys and pains of being mothers to young girls of their own who will gossip and talk about boys. Four friends who are now three, will always feel a piece of their heart is missing. Because of a bad choice made on a hot muggy night in July, the summer of ‘96 my world was turned upside down, my future was forever altered and my soul was shattered. I may not have conquered the world with my writing but I do hope by sharing my story with you today that it may make you realize that you do not only have a responsibility to yourself, but also to everyone else out there. Don’t ever think your choices are yours alone, every choice, whether good or bad, that you make is like little pebble being dropped into still waters, each ripple represents one person your choice effects. That’s quite an impact, isn’t it. Take my story, learn from it, please! I guarantee, you do not want to learn this lesson the hard way.


Submitted: March 20, 2010

© Copyright 2020 Makaila Fenwick. All rights reserved.

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