13 Minutes to Midnight
You're in 6th grade, English class with Mrs. Hall, and it's almost Christmas, so there's nothing to do but play games. Mrs. Hall has always let you play Pictionary and Sorry! and other games like those when you aren't doing anything. You're playing Pictionary with three of your friends, people you've spent this whole year getting to know. For once in your life, you feel invincible and innocent, just playing an innocuous game with your friends.
You laugh as the most innocent of your friends mistakes your "rabbit" picture for the playboy bunny very loudly. The entire class is staring at her and she's turning bright red, but she's laughing right along with you.
It's the last time you can remember feeling so light.12 Minutes
You're in 7th grade, History class with boring Mrs. Berger. You're supposedly going over Ancient Egypt, but she's talking about her cat that just had kittens and you're half-asleep. Jeremy offered you a joint yesterday, but you refused. Marijuana is bad, right? That's what you've always heard, but no one's really explained why.
This class is pointless, you think. You look over and see one of your friends, the same one who made the playboy bunny comment last year, asleep on the desk behind her. Mrs. Berger hasn't even noticed. On the other side of the classroom, the other two people you used to play Pictionary with are playing hangman and giggling uncontrollably.
Something's missing, you know, but you just can't put a finger on it.11 Minutes
It's the end of 7th grade, and you're smoking outside the apartment complex you live in. If your mother finds out, she'll kill you. Which is why she won't be finding out. God, you think, this feels good. It's been a shitty week, and you're starting to get sick of the innocent friends you hang around with. They're just so sweet and good, and you're not.
They suspect that something's wrong, but you know they won't do anything about it. They're too nice, too sweet, too wonderful to confront you and tell you that you're really fucking up this time. Because they'd never use that language.
Except that some of them are, and somehow that makes you sad.10 Minutes
It's 8th grade, and you're officially a chain smoker. It just feels too right for you to quit. Besides, you're life is being shot to shit, you need something to make you feel better. You're hanging out with your 6th grade friends less and less, but they don't seem to miss you, and that makes it worse. You want them to notice that you're gone.
You're skipping school right now. You'll be missed in Algebra, but no one cares. Except maybe those two of your "innocent" friends who might worry about where you went, but they won't do anything, except maybe cover for you, say you're sick.
You knew there was a reason you were still civil to them.9 Minutes
You take a swig of the vodka and another drag on your cigarette. Kyle's sizing you up, and you're too drunk to care. No one's going to do anything, though your mother's probably worried sick. Oh well, right? She's probably drunk out of her mind and passed out on the couch anyway. Not like she cares. Kyle's walking over to you, but you're no longer sure it's Kyle. It could be Mahatma Ghandi for all you know.
You finish off the vodka and try to remember if you're supposed to go to school tomorrow or not. You give up, deciding that it doesn't matter, you're failing Algebra and English anyway. No one will notice if you don't show up.
It's sickening, almost. Though that might be because you just drank half a bottle of vodka in 20 minutes.8 Minutes
You're supposed to take a test today, so you drag yourself out of bed at 7:30 to get ready and try to make it to Algebra on time. There's a knock at the door. Your innocent friend is waiting for you, worried about you. She's so nice. It's disgusting, because you don't need her pity. She knocks again, and you ignore it, pulling on a shirt. You glance out the window to see her walking away.
Something about that startles you. It seems like you're not the only one who's changed. She used to never just walk away because she knew you were in there, she used to wait for you to come out so she wouldn't have to walk to school alone.
You wonder if she'll walk away like this for good sometime soon.7 Minutes
Miracle of miracles, you passed Algebra. But now you're in 9th grade, taking Geometry with Mrs. Deer, and you hate her. You hate this class, you hate this teacher, you hate this damn school. You're stuck sitting at a table with all the heart-wrenchingly innocent and sweet people that just remind you of the life you left behind. And good riddance, right?
You're innocent friend seems to be speaking to you only because she has to. She's obviously tired of worrying about you, tired of being nice to you, tired of reaching out to try and save you. A very small part of you wants to take her hand and be like her, innocent and clean.
You shake it off and go back to daydreaming about the weed you've got hidden under your mattress.6 Minutes
You're best friend is pissed. So what if you had sex with her boyfriend half a year ago? That's in the past, and you live for the moment, anyway. You thought she did too. It's not like he's in love with her or anything; you know that he just dates her because she puts out. It's not your fault that she's delusional and takes things too seriously.
Somewhere deep down, though, you feel guilty. He was her boyfriend, after all. Your innocent "friend" looks up at you when you walk into Geometry and doesn't ask about your black eye. So she already knows. And she doesn't do anything or say anything.
And you expected her to, which makes that lack of care almost infuriating.5 Minutes
You're standing in your empty hallway, smoking weed. You were supposed to go to school today. Fuck it, you think, you're not getting anything out of it. You can get your mom to go along with your story about homeschooling, so you can stick around the house and get drunk. It's better than sitting in a class listening to nonsense about arc tangents and some idiot named Pythagoras.
You've got better things to do, and this is one of them. It feels so much better to stand here and get high than it did to sit in that classroom anyway. No one, not even Little Miss Innocent, will care or do anything. It's time for you take control of your own life.
You vaguely wonder if you have any control now.4 Minutes
You've dropped out, and halle-fuckin-luia. You never needed school or any of those people anyway. You're sitting in Jacob's house, a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a joint in the other. Life is good, you think. This is the way you've always wanted to live: no work, no rules, no damn innocent friends to make you feel inadequate, just you, a guy, and all the alcohol you could want.
It's fine, you know. All you have to do is keep getting high and life feels good. Who cares that you probably don't have a future? Who cares that your friends might be worried, or worse, pissed off? Who cares that you could get pregnant or some STD any day now? It's all good.
Somewhere deep down, you know that if you'd been really sober, it wouldn't feel so great.3 Minutes
You saw your innocent friend for the first time since you dropped out today. She's the only person from your past you've seen in a while. She wasn't asking about your well being. She'd heard a rumor that you were pregnant and wanted to see for herself if it was true. You were sitting outside smoking a cigarette when she came by. You laughed and told her that you definitely weren't pregnant.
It's in her eyes, though. She doesn't believe you, or, if she does, she thinks that it's only a matter of time. You want to tell her to fuck off and leave you alone, but you've never been able to say that to her, and you've never understood why.
Maybe it's because you know she would.
It's been three years, and you haven't seen Little Miss Innocent since she asked you if you were pregnant, even though she lives two streets down. You know she's going to make it in life, she's got the brains, the heart, and the willpower to succeed. You're not just smoking weed anymore, now you've taken to Heroin and Cocaine. It still feels good.
Every now and then, though, you'll catch a glimpse of her house from the end of your street, and you feel a faint desire to be her, so pure and sweet. Somehow, you know that if you reached out, she'd still take your hand and save you. God, she's a fucking saint, she's always been. But you won't reach out. You're too deep for her to reach and save you.
Or so you tell yourself.1 Minute
You're far away, now. You never did get pregnant, though you wish you had. Maybe you would have cleaned yourself up for a baby. You've got nothing left, no money, no life, not even the sense of peace that drugs used to give you. Now all you feel is a need to have them, not because they make you feel good about yourself, but because you have to have them to stay alive.
You can almost hear her voice, telling you that you really don't need them, but she's made a name for herself, you've heard it. She's a writer, just like you knew she'd be, and everyone harps on about her wonderful skills and how great a person she is. You know it's only a matter of time, and you can almost see it.
You'll be there, under some light, and she'll walk up. They'll tell her what happened to you, whatever drug you overdosed on, or whatever you did that caused someone else to shoot you, and she'll say "yeah, that's her" and they'll put a sheet over your head and you'll hear their voices from far away, asking why she doesn't look sad, and if she's surprised. You can hear her answer, even now. You know what she'll say, that she isn't surprised, because she saw this coming, and she's been watching it come since 8th grade, always reaching out, ready to save you, but your damn pride wouldn't let you take her hand.
You inject more of the Heroin into your arm, knowing it'll kill you. You hope it's soon.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure. That's definitely her."
"You don't look surprised."