Shadows of the Night

January 25, 2009
Silence; it accompanies the saddest and happiest moments in life. This was one of my happiest; one of the moments where everything is so loud, but you cannot hear any of it. Watching everyone scream with joy and jump around, I broke into a grin. The joy was overwhelming, and the victory I felt from winning this championship game could not be described in words. Then there was my mother. She appeared out of the crowd, which seemed to be moving in slow motion, to stand by my side. The hug she gave me felt better than ever and for a second I remembered a time from years ago when everything was normal; everything was perfect.

Soon enough, I was back to being just another senior; wearing my casual jeans and white t-shirt was such a drastic switch from my bright and sophisticated football jersey. During football season my Friday nights had a meaning, and I lived for them. One night a week, I could run onto that field and escape into a world of my own; a world where failure or tragedy was mine to control. Now that time was over for another year, and quite honestly, I almost couldn’t take it.

At home, I found my mother in the living room. To me this meant there was something bothering her; after all, she barely ever sat in the living room since my father had passed. My mood was not something I wished to let go of just yet, so I attempted to sneak past the doorway. However, she stopped me and asked me to sit with her. What she would say next was something I never would have expected.

“Zack, we’re going to move.”

As this simple sentence soaked in, I felt a headache begin to parade through my temples. The home I had known for all my life was suddenly going to be taken out from under me. Neither of us will ever fully understand my inability to cope with the simple fact of moving, especially since I would be leaving for college within a few months anyways, but no matter what I suddenly felt betrayed. I rose and walked out of the room, and once again was surrounded by silence.

Sitting in my room that night, nothing felt right. The thoughts behind my mother’s actions were nothing I wanted to hear; as a matter of fact, I didn’t want to hear anything from her unless it was saying she had changed her mind. Sleeping that night was not anywhere near possible, and the next morning came slowly. Emerging from my room, I felt as if I were the walking dead. Despite my lack of sleep, I continued into the kitchen to stock up on food, and then remained in my room until later that night. Continuous thoughts on a subject are not helpful to me, but this case changed everything. I soon realized that memories of my father consumed the house and that the pain my mother felt daily was indescribable. I was oblivious to this pain because I refused to spend more than five hours in the house at a time unless I was sleeping. My heart tore in half upon this realization; half loyal to my home and the other loyal to my mother. Just then, my cell phone sounded off its musical tone. A needed relief was waiting on the other side of that ring.

“Zack! Party tonight man! My house, like, right now. You better be there!”

The perks of being a senior were parties with my friends. I knew my mother wouldn’t understand that I wanted to go out, but I thought making peace was worth a try anyways. I slowly made my way to her room, where I found her reading quietly. It took me a moment to realize that she wasn’t reading at all, but was looking at my baby pictures. We sat and talked about life; life was something I had begun to forget existed, since mine was more like a daily habit. After a subsequent peace was evident, I mentioned that I was going to a friend’s house for awhile.

Her first instinct was to bombard me with questions, but then she paused and I saw a different look come across her face. This look wasn’t the usual one of worry and attempts at protection, but instead was the unfamiliar one of trust. After so many years of trying to protect me every waking moment, my mother finally trust me to make my own decisions and protect myself. This final achievement broke me on the inside, and I hurried to leave the almost awkward feeling that had arrived in the room. I told my mother I would see her later, and that I loved her.

I arrived at Tommy’s house feeling quite successful. I promised myself that I wouldn’t do anything to hurt my mother after she had just begun to trust me, but that didn’t last too long. The beat of the party took over as soon as I reached the door, and so did my need to let loose. I cut through a group of seniors dancing, past the few popular juniors who were allowed to attend our parties, and discovered my friend Tommy in his usual situation: drinking a beer, surrounded by cheerleaders. As I approached him, he tossed me a beer from the cooler that sat by his feet. I popped it open, and in only two minutes had completely downed it. The feel-good air that accompanied beer was so unfamiliar to me lately; everyone here knows that if you drink while in season, you will no longer have a season. I drank more and more, until I no longer knew who I was, where I was, or remembered my promise to my mother. I danced with everyone and became someone that even I hadn’t known existed.

Being a senior I had gone through years of talks and discussions about how if you were going to drink, not to combine it with driving. I knew that driving while drunk was stupid, and I always rashly judged those who decided to get into a car with a drunk driver. Tonight, I didn’t hear my own criticism. As Tommy and I dropped off cheerleaders, we got further and further from our homes and safety. When it was finally just us in the car, he turned the music up loud and I felt that familiar headache begin its customary parade through my temples once again. I reached to turn it down, and after missing the knob several times, finally succeeded. When I turned my very single-minded attention span back to the road, I noticed a quickly approaching tree. Before I could turn or brake, we had hit it.

I thought only of Tommy, and turned to see if he was okay. On first glance, I knew he was gone. Despite my consistent lectures on wearing his seatbelt, he hadn’t. I choked up and suddenly, felt the pain that was residing in my head and chest start to dissipate. As it flowed out of my body, I remembered my mother. Her protection was what I longed for most; I felt that longing and broke once more on the inside, as the shadows of the night overwhelmed my body and mind. All was dark, and finally I was free.

Join the Discussion

This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

Burningtree said...
Feb. 28, 2009 at 3:13 pm
Good lesson for us all, Devin. Keep writing these kinds of stories.
t said...
Feb. 27, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Outstanding work! In a few paragaraphs you were able to construct a scenario that speaks to all of us readers, whether we are teens finding our way in life, or we are older folks - folks who used to be teens/who still are teens inside our brains/who have teens in our lives and who want only the best of what life can be for them/parents who live in daily fear that our parenting won't be enough to save teens from themselves and the indifference of the world...

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Bennett said...
Feb. 27, 2009 at 4:12 am
Very descrptive, it definately makes you feel the emotions that are coming and going throughout the story. Excellent job Devin!!
Marcia said...
Feb. 26, 2009 at 3:33 pm
This was excellent reading. Devin will be a great writer.
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