Second Chance

I was a normal guy, just like anyone else. I was given a second chance, and learned that not everyone can have that second chance like I was given. Unfortunately, it had to be someone I was very close to, who didn't get that second chance. When the party is over, and most of the dwellers left behind have gone home, I finally get the time to be by myself and recollect. Instead of being in the warmth of my own bed when I wake in the morning, I find I am in the bathtub in an inch of freezing cold water. My delight towards this was indescribable, but I was too hazed to make a fuss about it. Through the blur of my own black and red bangs, I realized I wasn't the only one to find such a convenient place to be sleeping.

"Rae! Is that you?" Jade squinted his eyes, which were still caked with last night's makeup. I quickly realized that no matter how much makeup you're wearing, it's still possible to look like crap, and people can tell if you're on drugs just as easily.

"Yeah…" I groggily mumbled, spit falling across my chin. Somehow, I managed to move my hand all the way up so I could wipe it off. "What time is it?" I questioned, turning my head to face the clock that was now tilted sideways on the wall thanks to last night's insanity. It read 2:17. The only thing that had woken me up had been when Jade kicked me with his stiff foot, cursing out the joy of his wake. For a while I laughed to myself about it, but I realized I'd been laughing for a lot longer than I had thought.

Jade's foot twitched again, lingering beside my shoulder on the ledge of the tub. E flopped his foot down in the water and suggested, "Maybe we should get up." I shuddered at the thought of moving again, and my throbbing headache rejected the possibility. I thought I saw someone wave and stagger past the bathroom door, but I wasn't sure if I was seeing things of not. I shook my head and we helped each other out of the tub, not bothering to wipe off our feet before we traveled into the living room.

"Jade?" I asked as he turned his head, "You told me you wouldn't do any drugs last night. But you did, didn't you?" he paused and stared blankly at the wall, his eyes glazing over. Neither of us needed to answer the question, I decided. "You should go home and sleep it off." I suggested for his hangover in particular, handing him a glass of water before leading him to the door in a fresh pair of clothes. He murmured some form of thanks before I shut him up and left a print of my lipstick across his cheek. I didn't care if anyone saw the kiss, and it would give his brother something to tease him for, anyway. My job was done.

Jade turned as he headed into the doorway asking, "What about your clothes?" I shoved him outside and rolled my eyes.

"Keep them." I groaned, slamming the door shut and closing my eyes. The clothes were almost his size, and I made sure not to give him anything I might've wanted to keep. Turning, I gritted my teeth at the remains of people in the room. "Get out of here! All of you!" I shouted at them, eventually irritating them until they were motivated to get themselves out of the house. Sighing, I collapsed onto the sofa head-first and fell asleep once they were all gone.

When I woke up, the family was back, and I shuddered, abandoning my post to head for my room. The phone started to ring as if it had been timed for the moment I walked into the room, and I picked it up with a stumbling, "J-Jade?" he laughed at me for a moment. I could picture him smiling.

"Do you know what day of the week it is?" he asked, and I shook my head, not considering that he couldn't see me, though I knew he'd understand anyway. "It's Wednesday, Rae. You haven't been at school all week." He explained. I wasn't surprised, but I wasn't very satisfied with myself, either. "Are you okay…?"

"That's where I'm supposed to say yes, right?" I murmured, slapping myself in the face and wiping my bangs away from my eyes. He sighed into the phone. "What? Sorry…I'm still really messed up…" I tried to explain, but he didn't care at that point.

"Come over here for a while. Dad's getting upset again, and I need an excuse to go hang out in the basement. Please?" he begged me, and I managed an agreement, changing my clothes, grabbing the keys from my desk, and heading out of the house before anyone had the time to stop me. My step-brother did come out in a fit, though, waving his arms at me as I started the car. I reeled the window down and raised my eyebrow. I sighed and asked, "Yeah?" as he leaned into the window with a frustrated expression.

"What are you doing? The house is a complete wreck! You can't just drive off like this! You know Dad's going to throw a fit on ME, as usual, so hurry up, alright?" he shook his head and headed back into the house, probably because it was starting to rain outside. Pulling out of the driveway, I lit a cigarette and put it to my lips, cranking the radio dial up to an old Nirvana album that one of my friends probably dragged into the car from my room. I hadn't felt that I'd cleaned up enough to be going to see my boyfriend, or anyone from that matter, but his dad was fierce when he got mad. I drove on for a while mindlessly.

Inhaling my cigarette and letting it sit between my fingers over the wheel, my car suddenly made a noise it shouldn't have made, and it permanently stopped. I cursed and hit my head on the wheel, attempting to start the engine several times and realizing I was getting nowhere. I stepped slowly out of the car and stared at the road ahead, considering how much farther his house was. Not too far, I hoped. The houses I walked by on the way to his place were mostly houses I recognized. It was a big city, but most of my friends lived in the area. Dropping my cigarette, I stomped it out as I approached Jade's house.

When I got to his house, I went down to the basement, where he unlocked the door and let me in, rubbing his red, sunken eyes. He led me inside and sat down near the counter to the side of the room. "You have to stop this." I tried to tell him, nearly crushing my fingers together and gritting my teeth. My biggest fear was of not knowing his reaction. I didn't want to be so controlling that he would leave, but I couldn't keep it to myself anymore.

"What?" he peered up at me through his crystal eyes. Damaged, wet, stunted eyes, like windows. But they weren't the windows to his soul, because even I had never been to that place. Sifting through the blue powder on the counter, the attention and passion he had for the drug came off so eerily that I couldn't watch anymore, and I turned away to the TV, its brightness burning my eyes. "I'm perfectly fine. You survived it, so why wouldn't I?" he inquired, sniffing the powder and closing his eyes. "See? Perfectly fine." He grinned, his eyes hazy and lifeless.

"You're not fine! You're a mess! And the only reason I even lived is because I quit! I was lucky to survive, even if I didn't think so back then. People die, Jade, and that's the reality of it."

Nothing. He was numb to anything I was saying, because I couldn't make it completely clear. I had to, though. "You're killing yourself! You're dying, Jade, don't you even care!?" he finally lifted his drunken, dark, twisted eyes, with nothing but a cold stare. "I'm not going to watch it anymore, either." I decided, taking a close look at the disfigured human before me and leaving the house.

On Friday night, I had some friends over, hoping to have a relaxing time. Jade couldn't come. I knew where he was, but I kept trying to shove it into the back of my head. By the end of the night, it had driven me crazy, and I told all of my friends to go home again. Exhausted, I headed upstairs to my room and opened another pack of cigarettes that I 'borrowed' from my step-dad, lighting one and dragging my easel out of my closet. In the painting that the canvas displayed, Jade was sleeping, just as he had been when I began the picture. I fell asleep painting that picture, but I wanted to finish it when I had the chance.

With every stroke on the page, my teeth were gritted, and I was panicking by now, the brush in my hand getting sweaty and finally snapping from the pressure on my thumb. Dropping the brush on the floor, I took a long drag of my cigarette, closing my eyes and locking the easel up in my closet again. The smell of acrylic paint filled my nostrils through the odd hours of the night until there was a loud knocking on the front door. My heart dropped to the floor, and I leaped out of my room, tapping my finger on the doorknob. Do I really want to answer this? I wondered, nodding and twisting the knob.

A group of cackling friends surrounded the doorway, and Jade pushed through them, holding his arms out and stretching them around my waist, kissing me on the cheek. I didn't have much of a reaction, but I let them inside, leading them downstairs. The next thing I remember, everyone is freaking out, and I'm sitting with my eyes closed and my head back against the couch, straining my eyes so I can keep them shut tightly, away from the world. I make everyone leave again, though not all of them leave that building. One of them is still here, lingering in the room, sitting with his head lolled back underneath a tent made from a sheet with Spiderman print all over it.

The game of life sometimes has a 'Back to Start' option. Fortunately, I've never come across it, myself. But sometimes, the decision you make in that game will be your last. These decisions are what most people call 'life-altering' decisions. I call them 'life-ending' decisions. If you're going to take the risk of losing your life just to have some fun, or 'get away' for a while, and escape the reality you have to face every day, you're making a 'life-ending' decision. I once made one of those, but it didn't kill me. The decision I made almost killed me, and left me with the scars to remember that I once dealt with death.

Today, there are so many kinds of artificial happiness, and every day, people sell their lives for it. One by one, their lives are taken, whether they expect it or not. A drug that can be called 'harmless', or 'less harmful' than any other drug, is no exception to this. Drugs are drugs, and no matter what drug you're on, the only thing you're really taking is your very own life. Slowly, people waste away for the sense of happiness they can't earn that comes from themselves. They need it from somewhere else, someone else, and something else. I may have been the one who introduced Jade to those drugs, but after my own overdose, I knew when to draw the line, and I realized what I was dealing with.

Unfortunately, I couldn't show Jade when to draw the line, and there was no hope left for him. I wasn't going to take him to the hospital, and I wasn't going to try to save him from is overdose. Crying over his useless body, and grasping him as tight as I could, clinging to whatever part of him I had left, I knew that Jade was dead. Jade wouldn't come back for me like I did for him. Maybe because he didn't want to, maybe because he couldn't. If he did want to come back for me, I would never know. I loved him with all my heart, but sometimes love isn't enough when it's coming from somewhere else. Sometimes, they need that love from themselves, and they don't realize it.

I'd thought about it for so long, how young he was, and how he'd never get another chance at life like I did. Jade was meant to teach me the lesson as he fell apart that week that not everyone gets a second chance, and that I should be thankful that life gave me another chance. Clinging to his body, I held his limp hand in mine. I didn't understand why I couldn't have him back, or why he was gone, and why he had to be gone. I never figured it out, though, no matter how much I asked, and no matter what I blamed it on. There was no real answer. I only knew that Jade was gone, and he wasn't going to come back.