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The Wake Up Call This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

By , Oshkosh, WI
There in the darkness he sat. Alone with a half-empty bottle of whiskey. His smile was so radiant, yet I knew it wasn't real. His smile, his “happiness,” was a mask hiding the truth.

I hadn't seen him in a few days, and had really missed him – my only true friend. I ran toward him, he leaped up, and we hugged. I didn't want to ever let go. I don't think he understands how much I care for him.

I should have known that he had already consumed the liquid missing from the bottle. But I didn't notice, and instead pulled out some “red skittles.” Lisa had brought a new bottle of vodka. Cole, oh Cole, I should have stopped you so much sooner. My best friend grabbed the vodka, slipped 16 tiny red pills into his mouth, and chugged.

Cole chugged half the bottle of vodka, along with the pills, soon to be digested. Immediately I knew where this night was headed. How stupid could I be? Why did I let him continue to intoxicate himself? I might as well have handed him a loaded gun.

After stumbling around incoherently for the next hour, Cole passed out on a bench at the park. Lisa and Adam were there too, drinking. We allowed Cole to “sleep” for an hour or two, hoping he would sober up.

“Tina, wake him up. We're leaving. My mom is on her way to get us,” Lisa said. I scooted over to Cole and shook him. He didn't budge.

“Cole, wake up, honey,” I whispered. Still nothing. I started shaking him harder and harder.

“Cole! Come on! We're leaving!”

He grumbled, sat up, and projectile vomited for what seemed like twenty minutes. I was holding him, and he puked on my phone, but I didn't care. I wanted to be there for my friend in his time of need.

“Tina, my mom's almost here. Go to Adam's room once Cole's done puking. I can't have my mom see him like this,” Lisa said.

Adam lived two houses from the park – so close, yet so far. Cole couldn't stand, couldn't walk, couldn't function. I was left there with a drugged-up, drunken mess. I poured water into his mouth and forced him to swallow. He kept puking and mumbling and screaming “PEE!” I didn't know how to help him. He rolled around while I was holding him, then peed in his pants. I removed his drenched shirt and cleaned his face. Suddenly he got really angry, tried to stand up to take off his soaked pants, and fell flat on his face in the wood chips.

It all looked ridiculous, but I knew this was serious. I tried changing my tone to get him to cooperate.

“Cole, get your ass up! NOW!”

Nothing. No reply. No movement.

I tried slapping him. I tried pinching him, kicking him, pouring water on his face, screaming, hitting – nothing worked. He wouldn't move.

I started to get a horrid feeling in my stomach. This is my best friend; if anything happens to him I will never forgive myself.

In desperation, I wrapped his arms around my neck and grabbed his waist to lift him up. Despite the fact that he's bigger and heavier than me, I moved him bit by bit. It took all my strength not to drop him as he stumbled trying to stand and hang onto me. It took about an hour to help Cole walk two houses away.

Once we got inside Adam's house, I put my hand over Cole's mouth. He was intermittently moaning, grumbling, and screaming. He wasn't awake, but clearly he was in pain. I let him lie down once we got through the front door, then I dragged him to the staircase. I don't know how I managed not to wake anyone up.

Once we got to the stairs, though, Cole jumped up and banged his head on the rails, then screamed loudly. Adam's mom appeared, and I started to cry. The last thing I wanted to do was try to explain all this to her. I just wanted to go to sleep. I just kept apologizing for bothering her, for waking her up, for bringing a naked, drunken mess into her house.

Moments later Cole was in Adam's bedroom. He was filthy, and so was I. We were covered with dirt, blood, alcohol, and tears. I went to the bathroom to clean myself up a bit, and that's when Adam's mom told me the cops were on their way. My heart sank – we were going to be in so much trouble.

I went in to Cole and held him close. I wiped his face and kissed his forehead. I couldn't stop crying. I just wanted this nightmare of a night over.

Once the police arrived, I just sat in the corner of the room, exhausted, and blankly answered their questions. Cole was put onto a stretcher, hooked up to a heart monitor, and taken to the hospital. They wouldn't let me come. They told me he was minutes from death; his heart was stopping.

I had been to the hospital myself once for an overdose, but clearly I hadn't learned my lesson. That night, I almost lost one of my best friends. I made the situation worse by giving him drugs and alcohol, and although I tried to handle it, he almost died. I can't believe I was so afraid of getting in trouble that I took that kind of risk with my friend's life.

Since then, I keep my friends closer than ever and really try to be a good friend. I've stopped my pill-popping ways. I don't want anyone else to have to go through what I went through that night. I needed a wake up call, and I got it.

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

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the March 2013 Teen Ink Nonfiction Contest.





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