By Venus Wright
In Autumn of my sixteenth year on earth, I messed up on my lies worse than I ever had. My parents came down on me terribly on top of it.
I’d just met and started talking to this one boy during my fifth period math class through text messaging. My believed-to-be best friend at the time, Ivy, had set us up, telling me that we had “so much in common” and “would be so cute together”.
He sent me a dick pic within thirty minutes of talking to him. I should’ve taken that as a red flag, but my naive teenage self thought that I was worrying too much, so I ignored my gut. Everyone had experiences that seemed like a bad idea at first but then ended up being amazing, right? And guys were known to send dick pics to give a “sneak peek”, I guess, right? Movies had always shown it that way, and Ivy and my other friends at school were always telling me that I needed to let go and “just trust”. I never quite understood how “letting go” was equivalent to meeting up with some guy I’d never met, nor how it had to mean also letting go of my anxieties and boundaries. But I wanted my friends to see me like them, that I could do risky things like it was nothing.
My father was still at work, and would be there until five or six o’clock, telling him that I wouldn’t be home when he got there. I was going out with friends and they’d be picking me up. The lie seemed foolproof, being simple enough and still giving enough details, at least if not for unforeseen events on my part. My mother was halfway across the country in Missouri visiting family, so I figured I had no need to worry about her. At that time, my parents were already distrustful of me, but my father let me go anyway. Like I said earlier, they didn’t actually have anything to prove that I’d been lying. Yet.
The boy, Christopher, drew his silver Nissan slowly up the drive to me as if he shouldn’t have been there. He looked scared, I couldn’t stop smiling. Filled with risky adrenaline, I bound to the passenger seat immediately sitting in old McDonald’s trash.
“Oh, uh, lemme get that.” He said.
I lifted my butt a bit and he threw the yellow crumpled paper into the backseat. His backseat should have been my second red flag. There was trash everywhere; I couldn’t tell the last time anyone had even sat back there. I ignored it and turned my attention back to the front of the car. I finally took him in, with his stained, too-big white t-shirt, too-big camouflage pajama pants, smudged glasses, and beaten-up houseshoes. Meanwhile, I had dressed cute, at least in my opinion, in my pink fluffy cardigan, black jeans and Converse. He said nothing about my outfit. Looking back, I don’t really remember any of what he said to me, so much so that it almost feels like he never did.
I don’t remember much of the drive, or really much of the day, it only comes back in blurry moments. Maybe it’s been too long, or maybe it’s a combination of time and the brain’s strategic repression. All I remember is telling my father that we would be at Prescott Park, when in reality we were in the parking lot of a trailhead in Kittery, fifteen minutes from the park. Our plan had been to smoke and then fuck (romantic, I know), although we never got so far.
He passed me his bong so that I could have the first hit. At this time, I’d hit a bong, but the bowl of this one looked different from bowls I had smoked before. Instead of the large granules of ground weed on top, there was a fine layer of green powder. I didn’t want to look stupid so I took the bong and lighter, putting my mouth to the top. I sparked and breathed deeply. Big mistake. After this hit, which was far too big, I took another small one, in hopes to look “cooler”. Even bigger mistake. From then on, I was only capable of pounding water, drinking enough for the entire town of Flint, Michigan to be saved. I remember shaking, shaking, and more shaking, and the darkness of the backs of my eyelids. I didn’t even know if Christopher had said anything to me since I first hit the bong. I’m sure he did, it would be weird if he didn’t.
All of a sudden, without a clue of how much time had gone by, I felt the need to hurl swelling in my throat. I drank each time it got worse, urging it to go down. I was already so embarrassed of myself for greening out, I couldn’t risk pushing it further by puking in front of this guy. I drank and I drank, but it could not push the lump down my throat. In fact, I really was just adding onto the lump, because at some point I felt the lump pressing its way up. I gagged, tried to swallow, but it didn’t work. The bile was rising, and it was not relenting. I forced my mouth to stay closed as I frantically screwed the top onto my water bottle, trying to stay nonchalant. I flung the passenger door open and immediately emptied the contents of my stomach onto the ground. It was only water, but it never seemed to stop coming. Like I said, enough water for Flint, Michigan. I retched a few times more, Christopher lightly rubbing my back the whole time.
My phone began to buzz on my butt. I wiped my mouth and pulled the phone out of my back pocket as I sat up. “Mum” was displayed on the screen with a selfie of the two of us.
Fucking shit. Absolute shit. It would be weird if I didn’t answer, but if I did there’s literally no way I would be able to feign sobriety. Normally I can, but not like this. I had never been this high before, and especially when not interacting with my parents. I stared at my mother’s face on the screen of my phone for what seemed like 10 minutes, the rhythmic buzzing of her phone call resonating in my palm.
I cleared my throat three times, and pressed the green button.
I do not remember the conversation, only the moment when she knew and rained down on me.
“You need to get home right now. I’m calling your father and he’s picking you up. You’d better be where you said you would.”
I knew the last part was a genuine threat. I had already lied, and if she were to know how much I had really lied, including my location, I was in deeper shit than I was at that moment. As if it could get any worse.
I hung up the phone and ordered Christopher to drive to Prescott Park as fast as he could. Having heard the entire conversation, he stepped on it before I could get my seatbelt on. My throat hated the jolt backwards out of the parking spot, but the fear of my parents kept me from hurling again.
The fifteen minute drive to the park was silent. I sat on the edge of my seat with my heart pounding and my mind going a million miles a minute, yet it was emptier than a desolate valley at the same time. My mind just screamed “anxiety” over and over. As soon as we pulled into the small parking lot my father was already out of his truck, walking into the park to find me. He turned around at the sound of Christopher’s Nissan and started towards us with a face that could scare the devil.
Christopher didn’t even park. He stopped abruptly in the middle of the lot as soon as my father got close enough to the car. I got out without a word and followed my tight-faced father to the car. My father said nothing to me and glared at Christopher harsher than I’d ever seen him glare at anyone. Christopher didn’t once look at him, just kept his head down until I was out of the car and far enough away for him to speed away without hitting anyone. My father watched him leave the lot, never breaking eye contact with the vehicle.
I didn’t look at my father, didn’t say a word. I was too embarrassed and still too high. I knew what was going on but not nearly to the full extent. At the time it felt fortunate that my father said nothing to me the entire time, though my stoney self was sitting with a mindset of ignorant bliss. He only spoke when we got home and were both inside the house.
He berated me for my actions, for my irresponsibility, for my recklessness and self-destructiveness. Sprinkle in a little shame about how I’ve embarrassed him and my mother and it was a “lecture-from-father” cocktail. He loved those.
“I can count on one hand how many times I’ve smoked pot in my entire life, I’m fifty, and you can’t count on all your fingers and toes how many times you’ve smoked pot. You’re sixteen.”
I said nothing. First of all, I couldn’t with my state. I don’t know if it was that my brain was empty or that my high state tampered with my defiant side that would normally argue to no end with him. Second of all, what was there to say? That he’s wrong? He wasn’t. All he did was state a fact about something we have very different views on, so there wasn’t really anything for me to refute.
At some point, I couldn’t tell when it had first occurred, but my father called my mother. He spoke to her about me as if I weren’t even in the room, saying, “What should we do with her?” and “When are you going to come back?”
To Be Continued