My mom opened my door a crack and slid in a tray of food, like I was an animal trapped in a cage. Which in her defense, I kind of was. The week following my release from the hospital, I remained in my bed all day, only getting up to try to eat a few pieces of food off of the trays my mother brought me since I refused to leave. My head throbbed incessantly like the doctor said it would, and I wasn’t allowed to go back to school quite yet. The only way I was going to get out of bed was for my dad’s funeral, which I didn’t even feel like I deserved to attend.
What have I done? How could this have happened? I’ve always been a good driver. How…how…how?
The problem was, I didn’t remember any more details from the accident than what I had figured out at the hospital. The doctor had warned me that it may take a while for certain things to come back, and that I shouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t remember all the details of what happened. The doctor tested me for ailments that I’ve already forgotten the name of and scanned my brain to see if I had any damage that would cause permanent amnesia. That didn’t seem to be the case. But all I knew was what I was told-that the other guy had the right of way, and so technically, the accident was my fault. My mother and uncle didn’t exactly tell me it was my fault, but the blame was implied from the fact that I didn’t have the right of way.
It hadn’t quite hit me in the hospital what I’d done. But now, I could feel it. I felt sick but unable to throw up; I felt like I was weeping but unable to cry. It felt like I was fighting myself, in constant battle with my insides to try to make all of this go away. I felt so exhausted I couldn’t sleep. So lonely I didn’t want to speak to anyone.
I called for my dad, and he didn’t answer.
My best friend Neil called me every day, more than once, to see how I was. He had visited me in the hospital every day as well, but after a while his visits became awkward and redundant. The same question over and over again. “How are you?” I must hand it to Neil though. He kept showing up even though he didn’t know what to say to me. He came just to be with me. My mother stayed in the waiting room and didn’t speak to me at home for a few days. She’s probably sitting in the kitchen blaming me for the death of her ex-husband and practicing her caring façade.
It wasn’t always this bad between my mother and me. We used to get along when I was really small, because she kept her opinions to herself and told me I could be anything I wanted to be. She probably figured I’d grow out of my desire to become an FBI agent like my dad. But I didn’t, and now here we were. Hardly speaking on a daily basis for fear of shouting, for fear of creating a festering sore in our relationship so large that nothing could diminish the scar. She didn’t want to tell me what she was really thinking. She was probably overjoyed that I couldn’t be in the FBI with only one arm. Jumping around in her shoes, because my dreams were crushed, metaphorically and physically.
I supposed, in all honesty, my life wouldn’t have been much better at school either. With people staring at my nub, whispering about me killing my dad. I guess I didn’t really want to hear that. Plus, Neil would just look at me as if I would explode into tears at any moment. And he’d have to defend me when people found other names to call me.
Because last year I was, what they called, a tattletale.
My sophomore year I had heard a rumor that kids were getting drugs, like ecstasy, cocaine, and meth. Bad ones. I didn’t like that much because my friend Tanya’s boyfriend was buying and selling them. Tanya had told me that her boyfriend, Troy, never actually did any of that; he was just selling it. She had said he wanted money for a new car. She was wrong, because he never actually sold it. He used it. I had seen him high on numerous occasions. I told Tanya a thousand times before she decided we weren’t friends anymore because I was “all up in business that didn’t concern me.”
Then, I did what any good tattletale does. I told a trusted adult. My father.
My dad told me that I should tell the police (since this was a smaller matter and not necessarily in his jurisdiction). Then I offered to help catch them in the act. I knew the druggies were pretty good about hiding the drugs, but they also didn’t know that I was spying on them the majority of the time. I know that probably sounds really creepy, but I was really worried that Tanya would start using. At any rate, I’d walk near them and they would do nothing to hide it. The police decided to give me a miniature camera and a wiretap so I could get the evidence (they would have done it themselves of course, but they figured using a teenager would better enable them to get the evidence they needed. Plus they knew my dad and knew I was dying for some glory in law enforcement).
One day, I went up to the junkies hiding in their empty alleyway around the school. I asked them how much they were selling for. They said that it wasn’t for sale, and that they didn’t believe that I actually did drugs. I told them that I’d give them more money to buy even more drugs, and they’d only have to give me a little. I said that things were bad at home and that I was dying for a taste of ecstasy.
They wanted the money upfront, but I told them I didn’t have it. They agreed to meet me in the same spot the next day, when I’d have the money. The meeting never took place. I took the camera and the wiretap to the police and they made arrests. A couple of the criminals in question were old enough and had enough to go to prison. Others had gone to jail and rehab. One had gone to juvenile detention and was still there.
Needless to say, all of the junkies in school hated me. They winced when they saw my face, and became jumpy if I passed them in the hallway, as if I was out to get every single one of them. They spread rumors that I was a tattletale and decided it’d be funny to call me a lesbian too. I ignored them and the rumors, but it surprised me that people actually believe the words that come out of people who are high, since they’re you know, HIGH.
Most of the others in school still believed the rumors this year and just gave me strange looks. I heard them all whisper about me as I passed. I felt their suspicious eyes on the back of my neck like I was planning some kind of conspiracy against every “normal” person. I could only imagine what they’d whisper about me now…
When Neil called, he tried to tell me that they wouldn’t say anything about me when I returned and he would see to it. Somehow, they’d understand that I had made a mistake in driving. Everyone makes mistakes. He reminded me that I was only human. Yeah, I’m only human. What would have happened if I wasn’t? If I were some superhero? My dad would be alive and I’d have two arms.
Yes, I’m human. And that is the problem.