When Devon was younger, he loved to write. He wrote stories all the time and always said he wanted to be a writer. In the 4th grade, he wrote so much that his teacher would give him extra credit for his stories. Then in the 5th grade, the depression hit and the writing stopped. He hasn't written since. He failed 6th, 7th and 8th grade English. He only passed 9th grade because he had a teacher that took a special interest and 10th grade because I dragged him through it. He failed 11th grade English and now in his senior year is taking 11th and 12th grade English. He failed, or came close to failing, those classes because when a writing assignment was assigned, he wouldn't do it. For English 12, he had to write a Personal Narrative. It is very loosely based on C (the boy I used to call my second son who is a year younger than Devon and currently in court ordered, lock down drug rehab). I am so impressed by his insight that I wanted to share. ---------------------------------------------- Devon X World Lit. Mrs. X November 20, 2008 Personal Narrative It was Friday and we all knew what that meant, pizza party. However, we had to take attendance before the festivities could begin. John Johnson, who just so happened to be my best friend, was always the first one in his seat. I was almost always right behind him. 'John Johnson?' our teacher called out. 'Present.' 'Chester Chestnut?' 'Here,' I said. We sat all the way in the back of the classroom, in the last two seats. This made us the last to have our names called. After attendance was finished the party started. The party went on for a few hours. Not long before it ended I went to get another piece of pizza. John did the same. When we got there we saw that there was only one piece left. 'You have it,' John insisted. 'Thanks,' I said as I snatched up the piece of pizza without a second thought. That was the second grade, or the good ol' days as we call it now. We don't get the weekly pizza parties anymore. Instead we get the weekly essay and vocab quiz. Not everything changed though. John and I are still best friends, and coincidentally still sit in the back of the class. We still get mediocre grades and hang out after school. We are like fraternal twins, we may not look exactly alike or act exactly alike, but we do most of the same things, and have grown up without growing apart. One day after school, we were hanging out at John's house when his phone rang. He walked into the other room to talk, but I could still hear that he sounded angry or upset. When he hung up, he walked back into the room acting like the phone call didn't happen at all. 'Who was that?' I asked. 'It was no one,' John replied. This was completely unusual because he usually didn't leave the room to talk on the phone and he usually didn't mind telling me who he was talking to. The day went on and we didn't seem to accomplish anything. We just sat around watching TV and playing games. We felt like homework was overrated and we always said we would 'finish it tomorrow'. As the weeks went by it seemed like John had been disappearing more and more. I didn't really think too much of it until one day when I ran into John's girlfriend at the mall. I was there with my girlfriend on my day off from work and she was there with her girlfriends. 'Hey Dawn!' I said with a smile on my face. I found it comical that their names rhymed… and that people still named their kids Dawn. 'Hey Chester,' she replied with and evil stare. She knew exactly why I had that smile on my face, because I got the same one every time I said her name. 'What are you doing here?' 'Just looking around. We had nothing to do today,' I said. The five of us started walking around together talking about funny things that had happened in the past and all the times that I had made fun of Dawn and John's names. As the laughter died down to that weird stage where people randomly let out a long sigh, I asked Dawn a question that had been on my mind for a few weeks. 'Where exactly has John been disappearing to?' She looked at me with a face that looked both sad and mad. After a second of what seemed like face charades she finally answered. 'I'm glad to know that you're not making the same decisions he is.' 'What decisions?' I asked, more confused than a dog trying to stand up straight on solid ice for the first time. 'He's been doing some bad things recently.' 'What things?' I asked, still confused but now starting to lean towards angry. She pulled me aside and started talking quietly. 'He's gotten him self into drugs.' 'What!?' I yelled, completely oblivious to the fact that we were trying to keep this between us. I couldn't believe it. It felt like everything in the store was screaming at me, like it was all my fault. Why didn't I know? Why didn't he tell me? I looked back at Dawn. Even though she wasn't my girlfriend I still cared about her. We had known each other since kindergarten, and she had been with John since freshman year. 'You're not doing the same things that he is are you?' 'No,' she said. 'I tried not to let him do it, but he wouldn't listen to me. He just kept saying that it's his life and I don't need to worry so much.' I was relieved to hear that Dawn was on the same side as me, but I still couldn't believe what I was hearing. It made no sense at all and all the sense in the world at the same time. On the drive home I was still thinking about how John could get him self into something like that. I asked Gertrude, my girlfriend with yet another unfortunate name, if she would ever do drugs. She said no. I was pretty sure that she was going to say no, seeing that her GPA was a 4.0 and she could barely let out a cuss word, but it still helped to hear it. The drive was not normally a long one, but today it seemed like it took forever. So many thoughts filled my head and I couldn't help but think that if I had at least split the pizza with John, he wouldn't feel like no one had respect for him. I was his best friend and even I seemed to take advantage of him. The more I thought about it the more angry it made me both at my self and at him. The next day was Saturday. I woke up a little earlier than I normally did, got a shower, and drove over to John's house to try and talk some sense into him. When I got there I walked in the front door as usual without knocking. We had been friends for so long and I practically lived there so his parents didn't mind. I even had a key to the front door. As I walked in I was glad to see Dawn sitting in a chair in the living room. At least until the door stopped creaking and I could hear. She was crying, which was never a good sign. Dawn and John had never had any relationship problems before. She turned around and looked at me. 'What's wrong?' I asked. 'I tried to talk some sense into John,' Clearly I could tell that it didn't go well, but I still asked. 'Did it work?' 'No. He got mad at me and told me that I didn't know what was best for him. Then he started yelling at me and pushed me to the ground.' I could tell that she was holding part of the story back because of the bruises on her arm that were not there yesterday. At this point I was madder than I had ever been in my life. Not only had my best friend started to ruin his life, but now he had gotten physical with someone that was like the sister I never had. I knew exactly where John was. The smell of smoke couldn't deny it. I stormed into his room and instantly started screaming at him. It was obvious that he hadn't calmed down from his argument with Dawn because all he said was 'You know what!' and then threw a punch right at my face. I was never very good at fighting. I had only gotten into one or two fights in my life, but then again John had never been in one that didn't involve a joystick and three or more lives. I took his first punch with my right cheekbone, but came back with a punch straight into his nose and another into his stomach. As he bent over I kicked his feet out from under him and spit on him about a second after he hit the ground. I stared at him for about a minute before I walked back into the living room. I helped Dawn out of the chair and took her home. We talked for a few minutes while we were sitting in front of her house. It was a sad conversation that involved a lot of crying and ended with 'It'll be ok'. She got out of the car and I waited until she was in her house before I left. The following week was spring break. It was the most uneventful spring break that I could remember. Most of my breaks had been spent with John. But not this one. I didn't even want to think about talking to him or seeing him. I was still beyond mad that he would physically hurt Dawn who was trying to help him. On the last day of spring break I got a phone call from John's parents. What they told me caused me to drop the phone and stare blankly at the wall in front of me with my mouth open. It turned out that John and his 'new friends' had been out drinking. At about midnight they stole a car and while traveling down a curvy road, lost control flipped three times and hit a tree. John was in the passenger seat, wasn't wearing a seatbelt and was killed instantly. I was no longer mad at John. I was instead mad at myself and I had the 'it's all my fault' feeling again. I thought again of how not taking advantage of him would have made him feel more respected and how if I had talked to him instead of instantly yelling at him when he pushed Dawn down could have helped him realize how his actions hurt not only him, but everyone that cared about him. Now I will never have that chance. There are no more do-overs now. No more chances to fix things. I will have to live with the what ifs, the could haves and the should haves for the rest of my life. Maybe one day I can find some peace. But for now, I just try to be the person that the John I knew would want me to be. And that's all I can be.