“Gaelyn Thomas, what are you doing?” frowning, I look around me. It looks like I’m back at Rose County High school, the last place my sister was seen alive and the place I had attended when I had found out, Rachel was pregnant with what I had thought had been my baby.
Staring at the rows of lockers, I wonder why I am brought to this particular place. It wasn’t exactly what I had imagined hell to be, and to be honest hell is the only place I would have gone.
“I’m pretty sure I’m dead or dying” I answer the voice that had seemed to trail after me.
“I meant what you are doing with the drugs is not good. You knew better than to even try them yet you still did.” The voice said and I scowl as I look down at the floor.
“I’ve lived through a lot of pain, cocaine distracts me from everything; makes me forget for a little while.”
“In the end is it worth it? Because after the high wears off, you’re left with picking up the pieces again.”
“Why does it even matter anyways? It’s not like there’s anyone that cares anymore. I’ve managed to hurt every single person who claimed they cared.” I remark, as my fingers brush what had been Sophia’s locker.
“Those who matter, aren’t so easily chased off, they’ll remain by your side for the long run.”
“If you’re trying to talk me out of suicide your kind of late” I say bluntly “I’m pretty sure I’m dead or at least on my way out which won’t matter to anyone, they’ll be better off.”
“Want to bet?” the voice asked “you want to see what happens to the people you care about?”
Who wouldn’t want to know something like that? I’m sure it’ll only show how much better off they are.
Closing my eyes for a few seconds, I open them to find myself in James’ apartment. Looking around, I see beer cans littering the apartment, which was weird because James was a neat freak. You couldn’t tell it here, trash littered the living room, and the table. In fact you couldn’t find a place to sit at the table. The garbage can was overflowing. Dirty dishes piled in the sink, looking like they hadn’t been touched in who knew how long.
Entering into the hallway, I wonder down to where I knew James bedroom was, upon entering the room, I see James sprawled face down on the mattress, drug paraphernalia surrounding him. Swallowing hard, I walk over and kneel down beside him. I know without touching him though, he’s dead because there is a stench surrounding him. I close my eyes as pain hits me, I didn’t want this for him. He knew my struggles with drugs and how much they had a hold on me. Tears fill my eyes as I stare down at his lifeless body. What had made my straight laced friend turn to drugs?
“You want to know why he turned to drugs let me show you.” the voice said as the scene changed again, this time we were at a church and as I look around me and see the people dressed in black, I realize we are at a funeral. Entering the church, I follow the crowd to where the service is being held. I walk up the aisle to the front to take a look into the casket of the one that had caused my friend to end up overdosing on drugs.
I look into the casket and I see my own face lying there. I almost jump back in surprise. The face doesn’t really look like me, with the make up to cover up the paleness of a body devoid of warmth.
I look back to see James walk towards the casket. He bows his head as tears flow down his face.
“I’m so sorry, Gaelyn, I didn’t do enough to keep you from going down that path. Annaleigh was right; I should have tried harder to get you the help you were desperately crying out for. Please forgive me for not trying hard enough to get you some help. Annaleigh was also right about you not knowing what you meant to us. That falls on our shoulders; if we had told you then maybe it wouldn’t have ended this way.”
My heart feels like it’s about to be ripped out of chest. The grief that I hear in his voice makes it hurt more. Knowing that I will be the reason of his death doesn’t help to improve the way I feel. In fact it makes me feel ashamed that I am putting him through this, when all I had to do was not get hooked on drugs to begin with.
“He was like a brother to you and your death destroyed him both physically and mentally. After your funeral he was never the same again, so it doesn’t really come as a surprise that his death came only a few months later.” The pain of knowing I would be the cause of my friend’s death was almost unbearable. I couldn’t imagine a world without my best friend, constantly trying to make me quit and get me on a better path than the one I was on. What was I supposed to learn from this? That I’m the one that forced my friend over the edge and he took the same way out that I did?
Without blinking the scene changed again, this time I was in Annaleigh’s apartment. I wasn’t surprised to find her lying in bed, her body shaking with sobs, as she cried on her pillow. The sound of her cries ripped through me like nothing else could. In that moment I wish I can reach out and touch her and tell her that it will be alright, that she’s better off without me.
“Gaelyn, I wish I had told you how much I love you, no it’s too late and I can’t ever see you again.” her confession tore a hole in me, making me feel like I had just been sucker punched in the stomach. I close my eyes, and try to push the pain away; she can’t love someone like me. I didn’t deserve her love; it’s like an angel loving the devil. It wouldn’t work because she was too good for me. I sit down on the edge of the bed, wishing that I could comfort her, and hurting because I knew that I couldn’t. if knowing that I was the reason for James’ death; knowing I was the reason that Annaleigh was suffering, was absolute torture.
While I watched, Annaleigh’s sobs quieted and she slowly pushed herself up, and pulled herself into her wheelchair. I watched curiously as she rolled herself into the kitchen, I stand and follow her and watch as she pulls a pistol out of the drawer. I watch in horror as she loads bullets and then looks blankly around her.
“This is for you Gaelyn.” She raises the gun to her head and without warning pulls the trigger.
“NO” I scream, falling to my knees beside the now lifeless body of Annaleigh Robertson. “Anna,” tears choke me and I somehow cry out again, pain ripping through me like nothing I had ever felt before.
“Enough of this” I cry out “was the whole point of this to cause me suffering?”
“No, the point is to show you, how your choice of killing yourself by drugs, affects those that care about you the most.”
“How is that supposed to help me?” I cry, holding Anna in my arms.
“Because you have a choice to make now” the voice said, “you can allow this future to happen, or you can go back and fight for a better future.” I stare at the ceiling, it wasn’t a hard choice to make, and I couldn’t let my friends die because of my choices.
“It’s not a hard choice, Gaelyn, I’m sure you don’t want the fact that you chose drugs over life to affect your friends. Besides I think there’s a possibility of more with Annaleigh”
“I want to do better by them” I say staring down at the blood that coated my hands. “I don’t want them to lose their lives because of me. I’m not worth it.”
“That’s where you’re wrong” the voice said softly “Annaleigh’s right, your worth much more than you think you are. Would you like to see a future that can also happen if you so choose.”
“If I was worth anything, I would never have gotten involved with drugs to begin with.” I say, as I stare at the ground.
“Our greatest struggles often become our greatest victories.” The voice commented as the scene changed again, this time I was in a building, standing at a podium with about a seven hundred chairs filled with people.
“I started out with drugs when I was in my early teens, my dad was a closet alcoholic, and he applied more pressure than was really necessary, he would beat me and my sister. To get away from the pain, I turned to drugs; I become hooked, and depended on them more than anything else. What woke me up was overdosing and nearly dying. I was in a coma and suffering from heart damage due to a heart attack and I decided it was time to end my addiction.it took a long time and a lot of love, but I beat my addiction which is why I now stand before you. I want to help others to break free from their addictions so they can experience the joy and peace that I do.” I grin as I step away so that another addict can share his story. It had taken me a long time to get to this point but it had been well worth it. I walk over and place my arm around Annaleigh’s shoulder and pull her close.
“I’m so proud of you baby” she whispers as I bend down and kiss her lips.
“I couldn’t have done it without you” I grin and punch James in the shoulder as he approaches.
“Congrats man, I didn’t ever think you would get to this point” James grinned.
“You’re not the only one” I say “I thought I was a goner when I overdosed.” I watch as several other addicts come forward and tell their stories. I was proud that I had gotten my act to together, and formed this group to help addicts overcome their addictions. So far about a hundred had turned their lives around but I was betting more would in the days and years to come. I was grateful that I had gotten this opportunity to change my life and change the lives of other’s like me.
Before I know it, I’m back at the high school, wandering the halls again.
“You’re future is worth fighting for, because you have so many willing to fight for you. You shouldn’t let your past hinder your future.”
“Easy for you to say, when you don’t have the same past that I do” I comment and go and sit down with my back to Sophia’s locker. “My father was always worse on me partly because I was always defending Sophia, and partly because I wasn’t even his kid. I would gladly go through it all again if Sophia could be here.”
“Sophia is happy where she is now, you don’t have to worry about that.” the voice said “but she does want things to change for you, she doesn’t want you to suffer any more for the things you can’t change, her death being one of those things.”
“How do you know these things? How is it possible for you to show me my future?” I lean my head back against the locker, the vision of a lifeless Anna lying in my arms, is hard to forget, it brings even more pain as I think about it. I can’t stand knowing that my death affects her so much; someone like Anna doesn’t deserve to suffer any more than she already has.
“I was told to offer you a choice, a future that ends your friends lives or a future you can fight for.” I close my eyes, the voice sounding more and more familiar to me, but at the same time I couldn’t recall where I had heard it before.
“I can’t stand the thought of hurting Anna more than I already have.” I say softly “She deserves someone so much better than me.”
“You’re not as worthless as you believe you are.” The voice says “you inspire people to keep fighting, like Annaleigh, she’s thought of suicide so many times, but often enough you’re the one to convince her to hold on one more day, even when you are arguing. And while your choices could be better, she sees you for exactly who you are; a man who is hurting and trying desperately to find his way out of it.”
“We do argue a lot. That’s because I kept getting high to forget everything,” I sigh, and stare down at my hands.
“That girl loves you, no matter what you do. She will stick by your side and keep you strong; she’ll love you enough for you if you will let her.”
I smile at the thought of Annaleigh loving me. I can get used to the thought of that. I knew what choice I will make; I have my heart to offer even if it wasn’t whole yet.
“Who are?” I ask, looking up from the floor.
“Someone who loves you very much, and doesn’t want to see you go down this path again before it’s your time.” I shake my head, whoever it was, was very obtuse. “It’s me Gaelyn” a voice, I haven’t heard in a long time say, causing me to look up. I see Sophia standing before me. Wearing a long white, sleeveless dress, with her long blonde hair flowing down her back she looked gorgeous. My mouth a drop, my dead sister wasn’t exactly who I thought the voice would be. I stand and walk towards her.
“Soph.” is the only thing I can say, as tears fill my eyes. Shame fills me as I think about the things she had shown me.
“There’s no need to be ashamed” Sophia said gently, reaching out and pulling me into a hug. “You have the chance to go back and fix things, not everyone gets that chance. The important thing is that you recognize where you went wrong, you can beat the drugs. You don’t have to let them beat you!”
“I’m sorry” I cried, tears falling now “I always said I wouldn’t get involved with drugs and look at me now, dying from an overdose.” I had never wanted Sophia to see me like this. It made me even more ashamed of the way things had turned out.
“Your human, you’re allowed to make mistakes, but you had better learn from this one.” Sophia joked. “And another thing, you had better start writing again.” I frown and pull back.
“I haven’t written anything in a long time. I seem to have a permanent writers block.”
“That will change” Sophia said and wrapped me in another hug. “You best make the best out of the life you have big brother, I’ll be watching and waiting to kick your butt if you try this again.”
I smile and hug her tighter.
“I believe I’ve learned my lesson.” I said “I miss you little girl, I wish that shooting had never happened.”
“I’m better off now” Sophia reminded me, and I try not to think of what Dad would have done to her.
“I wish I could go after those guys,” I say “but I was completely drunk at your funeral. Dad of course, was more than a little ticked at me.” ticked was a bit of an understatement, but that was then, I haven’t talked to them since. I don’t imagine that they would bother coming to the hospital.
“I wouldn’t worry about them; they’ll come around sooner or later.” Sophia said “No one lives forever, and Dad has a high price to pay for those years that he beat us.” I didn’t like the sound of that; he was still my parent no matter what he had done to me. When and if I made it out of this, I should go make it up to them, of course that would be after I dealt with my drug problem.
“I’m proud of you, you know that” Sophia murmured as she released me from the hug. I frown, wondering what she’s talking about, there’s nothing I’ve done yet to be proud of.
“You’re going to beat this, and when you do I’ll be up there cheering for you.” Sophia said.
“I’m glad you believe in me” I comment “Cause I’m not sure that I can do it.”
“Of course you can, and I’m not the only one who believes in you.” Sophia pointed out “You have Annaleigh and James too.” and really they were the only ones I needed.
Sophia was right, I had the chance to make things right, and though I’m sure I would slip up, I had enough support to get me through the moments that were hard. That’s what being human was being all about, making mistakes, and learning from them so that you can become a better person.