The Way It Is This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The story I am going to tell you is about my close friend, Kenny, and "the way it is." In most places if it does not stop, there will be no future!

I can remember the first time I met Kenny: I was nine and he was eleven. Kenny was one of my best friend's stepbrother and lived in Lawrence, MA. Kenny would come to New Hampshire with his Mom weekends. He looked like a really tough kid, with his curly blond hair and his puffy leather Lawrence football jacket. He even had standout earrings which showed his strength. I had heard many stories about how he would get into fights, how he never lost, and how he would punish his opponent.

When I met Kenny, he and his brothers all lived with his mom, who had a drug problem. Ken didn't meet his dad until a year ago. Kenny was often left alone to care for himself. Because of his mother's problems, Kenny played the adult role in the family, at times caring for his mother.

After I really got to know Kenny, we would hang out every other weekend for three or four years. We became close friends and he was like a brother whom I saw on weekends. Kenny and I would talk about everything. He would tell me about the messed up society where he lived in Lawrence. The streets were full of drugs, guns and prostitutes, all accessible to young kids. Kids were on their own and nobody cared! Yes, Kenny lived in that world, yet he always had good advice for me. He would tell me, "Derek, don't do anything stupid, man." "Don't use drugs, Derek" and if I ever thought about it he said that he would beat me up! He told me he did not want me to get messed up like him.

Kenny was a straight-A student until the sixth grade. Because he was such a high honor roll student, he received a contract from a school that offered him to go to any college in Massachusetts for free. I remember one day when we were dropping him off at home, he asked my dad to come in because there was something he wanted to show him. It was his college scholarship. Kenny was so proud!

Kenny and I did not keep in touch much after that, I am not sure why. Maybe it was just because school started, or we lived so far apart, and had such different lives, but we drifted apart.

About two years passed, then one day Kenny called me up, bragging he was in a gang. They were called LTS, which meant License To Steal. They would steal cars and sell them. Kenny also told me that they were doing crazy drugs and getting messed up, and skipping school two to three times a week. Kenny had also told me that the scholarship he had received was gone.

I said, "What do you mean, Ken?" He said that it got trashed when the cops raided his house for drugs. He said that they threw his mother against the wall, so he went after them with a knife, and ended up arrested at the age of thirteen. He thought it was cool, but it really wasn't. Imagine that, doing drugs with your mom at the age of thirteen? What type of world is this anyway?

About a year later I received a call from Kenny. He said that he went to live with his dad in New York for a year. He said that he had been clean of drugs for a year now. He was working on a farm, getting good grades, and was even dating a girl. I was very proud of him. We have been good friends ever since he got back. I haven't seen or heard of him doing any drugs, which is cool. He is now moving back to New York with his dad so he can maintain a good life. I hope things work out for him, I really do.

Now think about what I just wrote. There are many kids exactly like Kenny, but the question is, will those kids have enough power to change like Kenny? If not, what do you call the future? Is this the way it is? What is going to happen with our future?

Good Luck, Ken. I Love Ya,

Derek


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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