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How to Find Your Mom’s Stash This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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First of all, be naive. Be curious and easily swayed. Listen to your friends when they say they want to help you, even though you had no intention of looking for it on your own, even though they’re the ones who put the idea in your head. Just act like you were going to go on a big search anyway.

Button up your army jacket and lead them to your tiny ranch-style tract house in the historical part of town. Giggle along with them, mocking your mom’s drug and alcohol habits. Tell of her strange activities, and embellish the stories a bit. Chuckle slightly while telling the tale about the catnip in the cabinet and how you were never allowed to feed it to the cat, letting them assume it was a stash. Don’t tell them that the reason was because the cat was big and mean and bit your tiny hands whenever you tried.

Grab your boyfriend’s hand and hope that he can see that you’re actually scared. Hope that he knows you well enough after these three months to see that this worries you and that most drug use makes you uneasy. Don’t act standoffish or hurt when he shows no sign of understanding. If you show him you care, it won’t be a treasure hunt anymore. If it’s not a treasure hunt, they’ll lose interest. As long as you’re friendly, they’ll continue to make jokes and the truth of how scary this is will never have to meet your eyes.

Don’t let them know how straight-edge you really are. Don’t tell them that deep down, the word f--k still offends you. Don’t say that you were oblivious to your mom’s drug use until they came around. If you do, they’re going to think you’re an idiot, and as far as this group goes, that’s the beginning of the end. All the respect they have for you will be gone and that means going back to how you were before. Sitting at home with your mom and sister on Saturday nights unaware of what other kids your age are doing, and no way of getting out there to find out.

That is the last thing you want. You’ve spent so many years longing to know what it is to be a teenager, and while your definition has changed over the last few months, you’ve finally made it. Your new definition involves the word angst and replaces a letter jacket with a camouflage one. It means trading rehearsals for the school musical for a drug search you never before thought was necessary. Having obtained this new sense of self, you are not willing to give it up. At least these friends seem to enjoy this version of you.

When you get to the police station, jaywalk across Canterbury Lane and cut through the open field. Try not to look at your feet; it will only get you thinking about snakes. If you’re caught staring at the grass and watching your combat boots too closely, Jessica will give her customary commentary and there’s the possibility you’ll be laughed at.

The best course of action is to remain quiet but to listen closely. Laugh at their jokes but make few of your own, speak only if you have something worthwhile to say. That is probably the most important thing. Be one hundred percent positive that what you have to say is worth saying.

You’ll reach your tiny abode just after the field. If your mother knew that you had friends with you, she wouldn’t be happy. She thinks your friends are pyromaniacs and drug addicts. She’s not far off, you know.

Lead them to the bedroom down the hall, the one across from yours. As you pass, shut your door. It’s messy in there. You have Simpsons sheets on your bed, which the mob recently decided to be foolish. You agreed, if only to avoid conflict. Your arguments aren’t worth stating. You won’t win.

In your mother’s room, have them look in all the usual places. The closet, the TV stand. Take the bedside table yourself. The chances are too good that embarrassing things are in there, and your mother is already the butt of jokes. While you’ve been hurt by your mother a lot recently, you still feel as if they’re hurting you when they say things about her. If this happens, just think of how she screamed at you about your calorie counting and said you were stupid. Remember specifically how she refused to take you to a counselor. Remember how she said you should manage it on your own. Remember you were only 13. The feeling will subside.

Sam will look under the bed and call you over. Giggle slightly at the pot that everyone knew was there. Don’t show so much shock at the cocaine. Just look nervous, but strong. Everyone else will look unsure. Act as if you knew somehow. Note that you really had no idea and you wouldn’t have recognized it if Sam hadn’t said what it was.

After you find it, send them home. They won’t be very supportive, but they’ll try to pretend. They’re all too confused to be genuine. Kiss your boyfriend good-bye, and when you shut the door behind all of them, burst into tears. But certainly not until then.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 41 comments. Post your own!

Chrissy L. said...
May 25, 2009 at 12:28 am:
I love the format. It is like an instruction manuel but still a compelling and heart wrenching story.
 
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Ahjanae C. said...
May 24, 2009 at 6:52 pm:
That was awesome. My teacher would love this. It is real and speaks to the mind. You would be perfect for Spoken Word- do you do it?
 
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Thunderfirst said...
May 24, 2009 at 5:58 pm:
Wow...that is so sad. I felt so bad the whole time.
 
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Xinwen This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 24, 2009 at 1:50 pm:
Wonderful. I love how it wrote it as instructions. Great style.
 
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Kerri said...
May 12, 2009 at 11:39 pm:
Wow...I saw this in the magazine. I loved it then, and I love it now, months later. I like your style...it's really original. Keep it up!
 
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ForeverChanging said...
Dec. 27, 2008 at 5:56 am:
Bravo.That was truly amazing.It was so deep and raw.Not many people can do it like that.
 
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yoyojoejoe37 said...
Dec. 24, 2008 at 9:24 pm:
i dont get it
 
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Kaitlin H. said...
Dec. 18, 2008 at 1:59 pm:
Wow this is incredible, it made me cry.
 
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Kelly B. said...
Dec. 3, 2008 at 2:51 am:
this is incredible. congrats and best wishes.
 
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baredoor said...
Dec. 3, 2008 at 6:53 pm:
excellent, sentence structure throughout made it strike that much deeper
 
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Violetstar said...
Nov. 26, 2008 at 6:21 am:
brilliant.
 
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LavaPersimmon said...
Oct. 5, 2008 at 6:46 pm:
That was...wow. I couldn't stop reading. I enjoyed that very much.
 
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annie W. said...
Oct. 5, 2008 at 1:17 am:
this is so well written! the whole time i was reading it, i wanted to stop, because it was so painful, but i couldn't because i wanted to know what happened. you're and amazing author!
 
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DJbounce said...
Oct. 2, 2008 at 9:58 pm:
Amazing. Dark, yet with the feeling that it connects to most people.
 
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Kyle Murphy said...
Sept. 28, 2008 at 6:14 pm:
Dark but beautiful. a very strong portrayal; i couldn't stop reading: very well done.
 
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Poetandidntknowit said...
Sept. 9, 2008 at 2:17 pm:
HEY- I wanted to comment on this paticular piece. It hits me like a knife in a turkey and you're writing is very personal, not just to your self, but it's meaningful to me as well. I'm a writer myself, and I know how sometimes your emotions seem to just spill out on the page like that one shocking tip of the milk jar. Love it! Keep on writing and don't give up, analogies are good too! You've got tons of emotion and a beautiful vocabulary, being able to make the reader imagine the situation is a ... (more »)
 
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waterpolochica said...
Sept. 2, 2008 at 9:37 pm:
I wanted to to stop but i couldnt. this was an incrediable piece. keep on writing!!
 
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Joygirl said...
Aug. 26, 2008 at 3:32 pm:
That was direct to the point of painfulness. I wanted to stop reading, because I could see where it was headed, and yet, I wanted to keep reading, hoping for a happy ending. In that situation, however, no ending is happy, and I think you conveyed in perfectly. That last line pulled at my heart. You're an extremely talented writer.
 
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diskofevre said...
Aug. 21, 2008 at 1:42 am:
I just love your style of writing. I think it really makes this story what it is. Beautiful.
 
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j78080 said...
Aug. 13, 2008 at 2:05 am:
Wow, that is very moving and said. Very crisp writing and very direct, the author wastes not time getting to the point.
 
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