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Life's Challenges

By , Mill Valley, CA

Snails have shells that are supposed to help them stay safe in the outside world. They move slow, with no ending point in mind. Their lives are pointless, and so was Brookes Flowers.
Brookes Flowers was found dead in her dorm due to a drug overdose. She was only 19 years old, a Freshman in college.
I remember the sun blinding my eyes when I looked up, the sky was a bright blue, with not single cloud in the sky. My babysitter looked at me and said,
“Look at that Brookes, it’s a snail.”
I looked at, and for a whole minute, it barely moved a centimeter! I bent down to pick it up, but as I pinched it, the shell broke and my hand got slime all over it. I was 5 years old at that time, and it was one of my earliest memories.
My name is Brookes Flowers. I live in Los Angeles, and next year, I am going to attend UC Berkeley. I live in a big white house, with a white picket fence, and a bright green lawn. From the outside, it looks like I am in a perfect family, I have a mom, dad, and they both love me. My mom is a tall, thin, blonde, with freckles, and brown eyes. My dad is tall, brown haired, with blue eyes. So, I was a mix of both of them. I am five feet, five inches, with dirty blonde hair, and hazel eyes. I have freckles, but not heavy duty like my mom. But when I was younger we had so many problems.
I am the unwanted child. One night my parents got drunk, had sex, and then had me. My moms name is Alison, Ally for short. After she had me, she started using again to get her frustration out. My dad on the other hand, Tom, was my main care taker, but he worked all day. He tried to make my mom stop, but after a year, all his attempts failed, and instead, he got sucked into my mom's world. He quit his job after his mother died, as he inherited all of her money.
I had a babysitter, which was my stand in mother. She was my only escape from my house. She went through all of the things my mother was supposed to do with me; I learned to ride a bike, swim, read, write, pretty much everything I needed to know. When I turned 6, I was so happy to go to kindergarten. It allowed me to become a new person, and at school, I felt that I was cared for. When the day ended, I always dreaded going home. My parents never spoke to me as they were rarely home, and when they were, they lived in their own world, leaving me, forgotten. I never showed my true feelings, but even if I did, I knew they would be ignored.
When I was ten years old I let my feelings arise and attempted suicide.  That was the awakening to my parents. I stayed with my Aunt for a few months, when my parents were in rehab. After they got clean, there was a stretch of awkward time, when they wanted to go back to their old habits, but they knew that what they did to me was unforgivable.
About a month after getting out of rehab, we started acting like a normal family. We had dinner together, talked, it felt like I was actually getting to know my parents. As I much as I loved my parents, I always got pangs of sadness during happy moments. I would think about how we should have been doing this years ago, but I pushed them away to savor the moment.
In fifth grade I came out of shell a bit, and made some good friends. My best friend throughout high school was Lily, and she was the only one who knew about my childhood experiences. She would always come to my house, and I would go to hers. We were practically inseparable. Whenever we would go out in public together, people would always ask if we were twins because we looked so similar. The one thing I wished I had was a dog. Lily had a Chocolate Lab, and I was in love with him. My dad is allergic to dogs, and even if he wasn’t my parents probably did not want the extra work.
We knew everything about each other, from our favorite color, to our deepest secret, and I knew that it wouldn’t always be like that, but hoped nothing we told each other would come out. Her mom would say,
“You guys are always so loquacious! That was her favorite word.”
At first when I told her about my parents, she was sort of freaked out, and wondered if I was ok, and if I was into them. I immediately told her no, as I never thought I would become like my parents. As much as I loved them, I never wanted to be them, they were not my role models.
Throughout high school we grew apart a little, but still stayed best friends. At least in my mind. We never fought over boys, or got in any arguments, and we had similar grades. From her behavior, I never suspected that she wanted to branch out a bit. I thought we were perfect friends, the two of us, always. But apparently not.
In the summer of Lily’s junior year, she got a job in town, and she met a bunch of people in our grade. The following year she sat them almost more than she sat with me. She told me that I was still her best friend, and I should go make some new friends to, but instead, I moved back into my shell. I started eating alone more and more, usually going into the library. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I put that energy in my grades. I think that is the only reason why I got into UC Berkeley, because I rallied.
When I heard that Lily was going to Villanova for college it felt like a punch of loneliness. I never really thought about us going our own ways. I ways into Technology, and she was into Theatre. We still ate together two to three times a week. I walked over to her house, to talk, but when I got there I saw a bunch of her other friends entering her house. She saw me and said,
“Hey Brookes, wanna come hang out?”
I guess I didn’t realize that she either wanted me to join her new friends or not be one at all. I responded with my usual,
“Sorry, another time.”
But that pushed her to the limit.
“Why can you never hang out with anyone but me! It is so annoying Brookes! I like you as a friend but I want other ones too, and you take up way too much of my time.”
“Well sorry about that, but if you haven’t noticed I have had a rough life so far, so one good friend is nice to have Lily!”
“You say that every single time something goes wrong for you! If you don’t want to go to the movies you always say I’m not feeling it, I feel sad because my mom doesn’t even know my birthday is today.”
When she said that, I knew the big wham was coming, and all her friends were standing there, watching us. Lily said my secret out loud, actually, she practically screamed it.
“Brookes it’s time you grew up! I’m sorry your parents were crack heads and druggies when you were a baby, but that was twelve years ago!”
I stormed off, crying. I had never felt worse, even when my parents were yelling at me, or didn’t even know who I was, I was able to deal with it. But this was different, Lily was my only friend, and I relied on her more than she knew. I knew that was it with our friendship, but what hurt me even worse was what happened the following day.
As I walked through the halls of school, everyone was whispering, and staring at me, until one kid screamed,
“Brookes parents are druggies!”
I felt like a thousand knives just stabbed my heart, and the tears came rolling, but today nobody comforted me. I wanted to just leave everything behind and run, but I held my head up high, thinking, I am better than everyone else, and I won’t see anyone in college. I barely got through High School, and on graduation, I felt almost dead. When they called my name, above the polite clapping someone started chanting,
“Druggie, Druggie, Druggie!”
I hated my school, myself, my parents, everything.
In college I was an outsider until one night some random guy asked me to go to a party with him. I was surprised to see so many drugs and bottles of liquor out. I thought of my promise to myself, I would never do drugs, but then my mind flashed to Lily. So when he offered me a big red cup, I drank the whole thing. I let myself go, a bit too far. I never lived to graduate, to have a life, to take care of my parents. It felt like I never lived, only in my shell that broke too soon.






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