“Please stand for the gospel”. As if controlled by strings attached to the top of their heads, everyone stands up in unison. They’re like sad marionette dolls with their faces painted into frowns. But I am the real puppet.Lisez l’histoire de Jacqueline Gibbone
My sister was the one who encouraged me to enter this contest, she knew I had done a few contests similar to this one before. When she told me that it was an Aboriginal story contest, I got very excited. Now I would have an excuse to ask for and listen to more stories from my mom and grandma.
As time went on and the deadline came closer I started to get frustrated. I hadn't found the ideal story I wanted to use. I then decided I wanted to write something that took place today. I knew there were many problem that aboriginal youth faced today, so I decided to draw from situation that I had been in before.So I decided to write this fictional story because alcohol use and abuse in teens is a relevant problem today. I thought it was important to emphasize how communities are what help people get back on the right track.
In my story I wanted to leave a lot to the imagination,like how the characters look, to give the reader a better understanding of the emotions. So that when they read it they can recognize the feelings, then decide who the main character is.
“Please stand for the gospel”.
As if controlled by strings attached to the top of their heads, everyone stands up in unison. They’re like sad marionette dolls with their faces painted into frowns. But I am the real puppet. For the last couple of days, it felt like my actions were being controlled by someone else. I was going through the motions, waking up, eating, watching tv, sitting around quietly with everyone else. The only things that still seemed to be controlled by me were my thoughts; wishing that I didn't have to feel anymore.
I had cried my eyes out the first night. Not the night he didn’t come home, but the night that we got the news. He had already been gone for a couple of days by then, and we had reported him missing. A somber-looking policeman stood in our front door, hat in hand. The policeman told us how a body, no, HIS body, (I’m still needing to correct myself), had been found in the creek. We were told that intoxication was the probable cause for his accidental drowning.
That’s when I found my escape. No one noticed the beer bottles going missing, only one at a time. The few inches of wine gone from the bottle. Every sip helping to squelch my guilt and my memories.
I had gone down to creek in the thicket of trees with them. It was evening and getting dark, and the dead grass softened the sound of our footsteps. I always loved the early spring’s crisp air and savoured it as I breathed in. It was sort of cold outside, but my curiosity overruled my discomfort. Ethan had invited me to follow him and a small group of his friends.
“I’ll take care of you” he had said, walking beside me. “Just don’t drink too much”. All of them were older than me, but not by too much; just a year or two, like Ethan. None were over eighteen. As we got closer to the creek, a small clearing came into view; a few empty bottles littered the ground. Everyone sat down, and one of his friends pulled out a bottle and a second pulled two from his backpack. Quickly they started passing them around. They weren’t nervous. They had obviously done this before. I had never drank before in my life, except for a few sips here and there. Uncomfortable, I slipped away and went home. It was the last time I would ever see him.
My mother sent me to a therapist after I told her that I had been with Ethan before the accident. The lady was actually pretty nice. She told me that I could talk and she wouldn’t judge. I had rigidly poured out all my guilt and how I felt responsible for Ethan. She tried to help, but it didn't get rid of the blame I put on myself.
Starting to feel a tear prickle in the corner of my eye, I whisper to my mother that I’m going to the bathroom. Mechanically I exit the pew and turn, seeing one of the kids who had been drinking with Ethan that night. His name is Brayden or Brandon or something like that. His somber expression intensifies my shame. Does he blame me? Does everyone blame me? Overwrought with emotion I pick up the pace to the bathroom. If only I had been there, I think. If only I had told Ethan that it wasn’t a good idea. If only I had told Ethan I was leaving, he would have come with me. If only he didn't go on the ice. If only one of his friends had stayed there with him.
I slam through the bathroom door, “if only’s” ringing through my head. I feel like I’m drowning, gasping for air as guilt once again overtakes me. I lean against the counter and take deep breathes, trying to calm myself. The therapist had told me about these stages I’d go through; I thought I was done bargaining.
“I know there’s no way Ethan’s coming back” I mumble, reminding my heart of what my brain already knew. It didn’t stop the plaguing “if only’s”. I look in the mirror and wipe away the rebel tear that had broken forth and streaked my cheek. People always said I looked like Ethan. I have the same brown hair as him. We both got the height in our family. And the eyes. We both have dark eyes. But now mine are starting to swim in tears. All I want to do right now is to put the world on pause. I wish I could just lie down for a while and not have to get up until I’m ready. I know how escape too. It reminds me of my time in the bathroom earlier. Before the funeral I had snuck in here with my plastic water bottle not filled with water. I enjoyed the burning sensation of the liquid sliding down my throat and for a brief moment, I had felt good. For a while, I got to say goodbye to my shame. I start to reach once again for my water bottle, but something stops my hand halfway. It was something Ethan had said. About not drinking too much. How easily he had said that, and how easily he didn't listen to himself.
I think back to the pew where I was stationed between my mother and siblings. I had sneaked a peek at my two younger brothers. They were young and it made me sad to see them like that. They both were crying quite silently. I could feel them shaking as they tried so hard to stifle their sobs. I had watched my mother to my left, as she stood stony-faced. It was noble of her for trying to stay strong in the face of tragedy, when I knew all she wanted was to break down and cry.
Brought back to reality, I see myself in the mirror once more, and study myself. My hand is stopped mid-reach for my contraband. I see the same sorrow in my eyes as I did in my younger brothers. I also see Ethan's reassuring eyes, telling he’d take care of me. Suddenly I feel weak and guilty. There’s too much pain for them already. I need to protect my brothers, and I don’t want to be the reason to make them hurt more. I’ll do it for Ethan. I’ll take care of them for Ethan. Determinedly, I take the bottle, and steadily walk to the nearest toilet. Dumping it, I watch as the liquid spills its way into the toilet. As it empties I stoically set my jaw and know what I have to do. I toss the bottle and pour some cold water on a scratchy brown paper towel; I hold it against my cheeks and eyes. Now all I want is for the redness to go away before I go back inside the funeral.
Walking back to my seat, I think about how easy it was for me to get the booze. Lots of kids my age drink. In fact most of them do; and they all do it for different reasons. Some to look cool, to party, others to stop the hurt, like me. But not anymore, I am not going to make the same mistakes as him. It was easy to start, and will be tough to stop. Around me, I notice more things than the first time. There’s so many people here. People who want to pay their respects to Ethan. People who are here for him. Here for us. They’re the ones who are gonna help me. I slide back into my seat, and see my mother and brothers, the people who I want to change for. Alcohol had me in its grasp, but I’m gonna take back the strings.