Behind the Wheel

April 10, 2008
By Meaghan Coombs, Abington, MA

“Party like a rock star!” Jody screamed as she walked down the sidewalk, purse in one hand, handle of Captain’s in the other.
She was on her way to her friend John’s party with her best friend Ashley, and couldn’t wait for a fun night out. The past few weeks had been extra stressful for the North Carolina High School seniors. Jody and her friends had finally finished their college applications, anxiously waited for acceptance letters, and were now ready to celebrate.
“Ash, I can’t believe we graduate in two days, this summer is gonna be the best of our lives.” Jody agreed. “Cheers to that, girl.”
The two best friends raised their matching shot glasses. “I wish we could park in
John’s driveway,” said Jody. “I don’t really want to leave my car in the Dunks parking lot, but oh well.”
As the girl’s continued down John’s street, they saw their girlfriends all dolled up, and their guy friends carrying 30’s on their shoulders as they entered the house. Standing on the front steps was John, looking perfect as usual. Jody immediately ran up and gave him a hug, “John! We haven’t hangout in so long!”

Jody had liked John for most of the year, but he had had a girlfriend. When she found out that they had broken up last week, she knew this would be a good chance to spend time with him.

“Ashley, get over here, it’s our turn to play!” In the next 10 minutes, Ashley and Jody downed 4 beers each playing beruit.

John got up from his chair, and raised his glass. “Let’s make a toast, to 2008, to the greatest friendships, but most of all, to the future. I love you guys.”

Everyone in the party cheered and chugged whatever alcoholic drink they happened to have in their hand.

“Oh my god, I hope I don’t throw up tonight.” Ashley was stumbling through the house with Jody looking for the bathroom. “Hey, toughen up girl, it’s the first night of summer, you gotta keep up!” Jody took another swig of her drink.

Meanwhile, John was outside entertaining his guests, drinking a beer, and chatting with his best friend. “Dude, I think I’m gonna ask Jody out after graduation.” John always turned to his best friend Dave for advice. “She’s gonna be so happy. Don’t say anything but she told me she’s liked you forever,” Dave said.

Ashley and Jody finally came outside after their trip to the bathroom. Jody whispered in Ashley’s ear, “Have you seen John?” Ashley laughed and pointed to the other side of the yard, “Yep, he’s right over there. Now why don’t you go do something about it instead of starring at him!” Jody laughed nervously and ran her fingers through her hair, then headed toward him.

“Hey Jody! Are you having fun?” John looked at her and told her how great she looked. “Thanks, yeah I’m having a great time.”

“I’ve been meaning to talk to you; you wanna meet up after graduation? I have something I want to ask you.” John looked anxious. “Is it bad?” Jody was getting nervous. “Just meet me in the field after the ceremony,” John said. “Alright.”

Jody ran over to Ashley and told her what had just happened. “I think he might ask me out, but I don’t know!”
“Oh my god that’s awesome! You’ll just have to wait and see.” It was about midnight, and the girls decided they should figure out where they were staying for the night, they were in no shape to go home.
“Maybe we can just sleep here,” Jody suggested to Ashley. Ashley laughed, “You wish. John said no one could stay over because his parents are coming home early in the morning.”
The girls decided it was late enough that Jody’s parents would most likely be sleeping, and they’ll just sneak into the house the back way. Jody and Ashley said their goodbyes, told everyone they’d see them at graduation in two days, and headed back down the street towards Jody’s car at Dunkin Donuts.
“I’m so dizzy Ash! We should’ve found a ride home.” Ashley laughed, “Whatever, you always drive slower after you’ve had a few, now let’s get going.”
It was now 1am, and the roads were clear of cars. Jody was feeling sick, and the lights made her head pound, but she just ignored it and tried to get home as fast as she could.
As she pulled up to the next intersection, the light was red, but Jody’s foot hit the break a little too late. Their car clashed with a white pickup truck, which seemed like the only other car on the road that night. No one was conscious. No one was around to call the police. Two hours later, as a man was driving to work an early job, he saw the crash scene. He called 911, and four ambulances rushed to the scene. They couldn’t believe their eyes. The EMT’s pulled the girls out of the car, and moved them onto stretchers and to the hospital. The man in the pickup truck was announced dead at the scene.
Ashley woke up on the way to the hospital. “Where’s Jody!” She screamed.
“ Just lay down sweetheart.” The paramedic tried to keep her calm. Ashley started crying.
“Have you been drinking tonight?” one of the doctors asked Ashley as she lay in her hospital bed. “Yes, I had a little.” Ashley said, now regretting her actions. “I’m so sorry.” She knew the only one she was apologizing to right now, was herself. She had no idea where Jody was, or what exactly had happened. All she knew was her and Jody had gotten behind the wheel after a night of drinking, and that they were paying the consequences.
Or at least one of them was. Jody did not survive the accident that night. The force of the car had flung her fragile body against the windshield, and killed her.
Tuesday was graduation. Ashley was able to attend, Jody wasn’t. Jody didn’t get to walk the isle and receive her High School diploma. She didn’t get to attend Northwestern in the fall. She didn’t get to meet John on the field after graduation, and say yes to the question he was going to ask her. She never got to read the note John left on her grave saying “You were always the one.”
Jody didn’t get to be in the class picture. She didn’t get to tell her parent’s and her three-year-old brother how much she loved them. Jody only lived 17 years of her life, because of her choice to get behind the wheel that night.

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