October 20, 2007
By Kayla Sheridan, Reno, NV

Twilight dims perception,
sleepy-slow reaction times.
Why do all the terrible things
happen in one night?
Back-in-Black shattered silence,
followed by stunned expressions
and stifled grins.
"Guys, they got caught."
Four pile into the car, soon to become six.
Friendship has obligations.

We're still laughing.
It's a scare they maybe need.
"Oops, I guess I'm still a little tipsy.
Thanks for the ride, man."
Sleep comes easy, everyone safe.

So I'd guessed.

Early morning,
oppressive heat already started.
An urgent voice on the telephone,
"Call me as soon as you get this message."
A few rings later and the story pours out,
her voice low and tight.
Apparently they didn't go to sleep.
Lights flashing blue and red,
an unwanted afterthought to yesterday's fourth.
Sirens are too different from fireworks.
Emergency room, Juvenile Hall,
stomach pumps, court dates.

See, this is why I don't drink.

Heading for advice
(what else are big brothers for?)
but ending up giving it instead;
"I can't help her, and I don't know what to do."
Suddenly other problems are trivial.
Who would have thought
emancipation could be so frightening?
Can't get out, can't get help,
can't bring them into this.
Watching the strongest person you know
struggle for words to push past the lump in his throat,
a tear falling down his face?
It's the most terrifying thing you've ever seen.

The world is suddenly bigger,
And scarier.
Thunder rolls over the hills,
(Nevada summer thunderstorms, now somehow less comforting),
and minds reel in confusion,
we realize,
we're just children.
And the world is cold, and terrible,
and terrible comes in twos.

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