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My mind raced to the events of the evening, each one a blurred memory. Bits and pieces come back to me, dancing, accepting drink after drink, and stumbling from the bathroom to my car after prying my best friend away from a handsome, but clearly intoxicated stranger. We both laugh as we speed down the road, rocking out to the radio. Suddenly the memory hits me vividly, the heart wrenching scream of my best friend, the sound of tires squealing, vicious headlights staring in my face, metal crushing around my body, and suddenly nothing.
I groan, as I snap into reality. I am lying on the road. I can feel warm blood trickling down my face. Gravel is pressing into my body, I try to cry out but I do not hear my own voice. I am in shock. Red and blue lights flash as paramedics work hurriedly. I begin to feel that I am being lifted. From the stretcher my view is even more horrifying. A mini van is completely totaled alongside mangled metal which was once my silver Volkswagen, a birthday present from my parents. My parents! I can hear an EMT on his cell phone, “Mrs. Welsh, we have your daughter here, she was just in a car accident, can you please meet us at the Hospital?” Pain spears through my heart as I imagine my mother on the other end, collapsing in panic as she hears that her only child is lying on the road somewhere. I can not endure this any longer; I attempt to close my eyes. Before I had a chance, I see a scene that will haunt me for the rest of my life. My best friend is lying in a heap of blood, her eyes are closed, and the paramedics look concerned. At that point I wish I could wake up from this nightmare, but to my horror I realize that this is a petrifying reality. As I roll into the ambulance I notice a woman on a stretcher is being rolled into the ambulance beside mine. A young boy, about the age of nine, runs after her, screaming “Mommy!” He cries into a paramedics shoulder before looking at me with the saddest eyes I have ever seen. My life feels like it is over, and I had not yet learned the full consequences of my night of “fun.” I lose consciousness.
I wake up again in a stark white room. My arm itches as I realize I am hooked up to an IV. My body aches. As the room around me comes into focus I see my mother standing over my bed, and my father asleep on a chair. I realize I made it to the hospital. As my eyes open a single tear falls down my moms face. She forces a smile and grabs my hand. “Honey, can you hear me?” I nod. Remembering the events of the night I manage to whisper, “Heather?” My mom’s expression changes to concern. “She has been in surgery for hours, they promised to fill us in as soon as they know something. It does not look good, hon.” With that thought, I lost consciousness.
Several hours later, I reluctantly wake up while a nurse checks my vital signs. I hear quiet arguing outside my door. My heart begins to race as I realize my mom is talking to a police officer. I strain to listen, but only hear several words, drinking, DUI, and death.
All of a sudden I realize my parents were back at my side. I had been screaming. I ask to see Heather, and they agree. As I rise from my bed, I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My hair is matted with blood. Stitches run across my head, and bruises line my body. It does not matter to me. All that matters is my best friend. My parents help me in a wheelchair. As we roll down the hall, my dad begins to warn me that Heather’s condition is poor. We turn down a hallway marked Intensive Care Unit. My heart begins to beat so hard, I feel like it will lurch out of my chest. I see Heather’s mother standing outside her room, crying into a tissue. She just looks at me through her tears and nods toward the bed where my best friend lies. I walk over to her. My knees give out when I realize the extent of her injuries. She appears lifeless. Her eyes flutter open and she stares at me.
“I am so glad you are okay” she whispered.
“Heather, I am so sorry, I am so sorry.”
“Don’t cry Jenny, we both screwed up.”
“Screwed up seems like a bit of an understatement” I muttered.
The Doctor enters and asks to speak with Heather. He proceeds to tell her that her surgery saved her life but she will be paralyzed from the waste down for life. I hear Heather choking tears. Suddenly, images of my best friend in a wheel chair at our senior prom, and her wedding fill my mind. It is my fault; her life is altered forever because of my drinking. I feel the anxiety and guilt take over my body. Once again, I faint.
Just as I thought things could get any worse, they did. I wake up once again in my room. My mother is now hysterical and my father rubs his face with the heel of his hand. I ask what is happening. I wish I hadn’t. The woman from the stretcher is dead. I killed someone’s mother. From this point on, I am a murderer. I broke the law, thought I was having fun, and killed someone. I want to die. It is so unfair that my best friend will never walk again, and a complete stranger will never wake up again. The police wait for me outside, an investigation of my intoxicated driving will need to begin. I finally just let myself cry. I vow to myself at this moment to never pick up a drink again. I just wish it did not take this much heartache and loss to realize my wrongdoing. I feel guilty for not getting hurt, for not being the dead one. My reckless drunk driving changed my life, ruined my best friends life, and ended someone innocent’s life. I will have to live with this for the rest of my life. That drink was not worth it.
Maryland Heights, MO