The school newspaper asked me for a story about Jordan

April 26, 2017
By jillhenn BRONZE, Eugene, Oregon
jillhenn BRONZE, Eugene, Oregon
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

She told me she was sober. I repeat it in my head constantly, a mantra I created to help me, but it hardly works. Every time I hear her name I feel nauseous.
Her funeral was last Friday, which means it’s been 33 days since that night. Her grave has no stone, you don’t order a stone for someone you’re not expecting to die. I grew up with Jordan, we were born 2 months apart and inseparable from the start. Our moms went to college together and ended up living in the same town, so when they both got pregnant they pre-determined our friendship before we even entered the world. For lack of a better term, it was a match made in heaven. Jordan and I were exactly alike. From day 1 we got along better than our moms could have dreamed, and it stuck. We were best friends for 17 years, we even planned on rooming together in college next year. Now she’ll become a poster for underage drinking, a mere example of what can go wrong. The person she was will be reduced to the mistake she made.
That night, our friend’s parents were out of town and decided to have people over. Her one rule was that everyone either had a sober driver, or they stay the night. Jordan wasn’t having a good night, she had fought with her parents, her boyfriend, and failed her calculus test all in one day. From the conversations I had with her, she seemed undoubtedly upset, but not drunk. I was with her a majority of the time she was there, and I never saw her drink. At the end of the night, other drivers offered her a ride to which she countered a “no thanks! I’m sober” each time. She could’ve stayed there, or taken a ride if she wasn’t able to drive herself. Not to say she couldn’t have been drunk but from what I could tell, all the signs pointed in the other direction. She said her goodbyes around 1 in the morning, keys in hand. An hour later I woke up to a call from my mom. I remember the shakiness in her voice as she asked me to come home, saying there was something she needed to tell me. I ran out of the house to my car and drove home as quickly as I could. I walked into my house to see my parents sitting at the kitchen island, disheveled and out of place at 2 am in their pajamas. My mom held her face down into her hands, only looking up when she heard me walk in. I immediately saw the tears on her face, loose strands of hair sticking to the salty water on her cheeks. The words that came out of her mouth barely registered. I didn’t believe her. I ran out of the house and down the street. I kept running until every exasperated breath felt like it was breaking my ribs. I sat down on the curb, and listened to the silence of the night. In the sky I saw the lights of the police cars was drawn to it like a fly to light. The scene was gruesome at the least. Under the lights of the intersection I saw Jordan’s car, the front end crumpled against the side of another. Metal pieces were strewn all around the accident. The door of Jordan’s car lay on the ground, torn off to let the emergency responders access the inside of her car. I found out later that Jordan was dead before they got there, there was nothing they could’ve done for her. The other car was a mother and daughter, who both suffered from only minimal injuries. In the following weeks, I remember there being very little investigation into her death. She was a teenage girl driving home from a party, it’s almost too easy to assume she was drunk. I don’t think they even checked the traffic cams. The conclusion was right there at their fingertips, no need to look any further. Everyone accepted it, the horror story of the teen driving drunk. Except me. I knew her, she would never have put herself, or others, in that kind of danger. I refuse to believe she would have lied about being sober that night, especially when she had many other options to keep herself safe. So, I started doing digging on my own. I ended up discovering it by accident, the cause for Jordan’s death. Now, I publish that reason in the school newspaper. For Jordan, and for all the other kids who were looked down upon in association with her, and for her parents, and for all the parents who worry their kid will make the same mistake. I was driving at night, around the same time Jordan would’ve been. I drove up to the intersection, the same one where Jordan died. I slow down every time I drive through it, and this time my speed saved my life. As I started to enter the intersection, another car drove through. I looked up, confused, checking to make sure my light was green. I looked at the lights on the other side where the car drove under, also green. I grabbed my phone from next to me in the console, and took a picture before the lights could change. Then I drove home, more carefully than I had ever driven before. Then I wrote this, to defend the life of my friend, who doesn’t deserve to become nothing but an example for something she didn’t do. This is for Jordan, who our city used to cover up the mistakes in their own streets.

The author's comments:

My name is Jillian Henry. I'm 18 years old and I've seen a lot of kids make questionable decisions when it comes to drinking. However, from the experiences I've had I also know that kids my age are assigned a certain stigma when it comes to partying, and it's not always true. I wanted to write about the other side of teens drinking, one that I know a lot of kids would relate to because most kids are responsible when it comes to decisions like this. 

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