HIGH SCHOOL NORMALITY contains strong language and some themes not suitable for audiences under 17. Viewer discretion is advised.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Objects in the Rear View Mirror

"Lucy Greer apparently had Mom's name on the lawsuit, and since Dad is nowhere to be found, Mom was who they arrested."
"I'm going to go find him."

"What happened?"
"You were in a car accident, remember?"

"But wait, she couldn't have been arrested simply for being attached to the lawsuit. There's gotta be more to it."

"David, your dad may have made a mistake--"
"Or two, or three, or five hundred."
"But he's still your dad, and you have to forgive him."

"Your dad's been found."
"So what happens now?"
"I guess we'll see."
"Well, David, it looks like you are ready to go home."

It was music to my ears. I had missed a whole week of school, and I still had more prep to do for my AP tests.'

"Now, you will have to stay at home for another two or three days."

And the music suddenly became nails on a chalkboard.

"Dr. McKendrick, with all due respect, I can't miss anymore school. I start AP tests next week."
"David, it will be easier to wean you off of the pain medication if you are at home. Maybe it would be better if you took the rest of the year off. We can call the school, have them give you take-home finals--"
"And AP testing?"
"Perhaps we can work it out with College Board, get you some make-up exams."
"David, you were in a very serious car accident. Your injuries are minor, but if I'm not mistaken, the emotional trauma will be very serious, especially in the next month or so. My advice is to take the rest of the semester off and focus on getting better."
My name is David, and I'm a normal high school student.
And while Dr. McKendrick seemed like he was out of his fucking mind, he was right. How could I possibly focus on American history or the nuances of the English language with everything else that was on my mind?

As was hospital policy, I was rolled to my mom's white Mountaineer SUV in a wheelchair. Getting into the front seat wasn't that strange. Neither was backing out of the parking lot, or making a right turn out of the parking lot. But as we approached the intersection and got into the left turn-lane, I froze up. The light was still red.

"What's wrong?"

I was silent as I waited for the light to change.


The light turned green. It was a green arrow in fact.

"Don't go yet!"

She hesitated, even though the cars on the other side were stopped. She made the turn and as soon as we were out of the intersection, I took several deep breaths.

"What was that?"

My mom rolled her eyes.

"That was not nothing. What's wrong?"
"I'm sorry, it's just that my accident happened when I was at a green arrow."
"David, that was some stupid drunk driver."
"What, people don't drive drunk during the day?"

We were silent again. Finally, my mother spoke:

"So your friends are throwing you a welcome home party or something."
"Yeah. It's strange, they don't see you for a few days and they feel that they have to make up for lost time or something."

It was silent again.

"So how come your girlfriend hasn't come to visit you?"

I was caught completely off guard. I couldn't believe that I forgot to tell my family about me and Joy's breakup.

"She's not my girlfriend anymore."

I suddenly felt a pain in the very pit of my stomach. It was the first time I had ever said it like that; as if it was so simple.

"What do you mean she's not your girlfriend anymore? She was before prom."
"And we broke up at prom. I really don't want to talk about this right now."

There was another moment of silence.

"Personally, I didn't think there was much to her."
"What? She was a little too skinny, her eyes were too close together, and may I just say that her style was a little--"
"Mom, the last thing I want to think about right now is Joy. Can we please just focus on going home?"
"Okay, but I just want you to know that there are much better girls out there than that one. She wasn't Jewish, either."
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry."

We made a right into our neighborhood and we pulled into the garage. Rebellion, my charcoal Pontiac, was gone; totaled in the accident. Still, it was odd seeing the big empty space.

I walked into the house to a crowd of people who all shouted "Welcome Home, David." There was a banner that said the same thing. Soon I was greeted by my three best friends, Aaron Stanwick, Michael Florence, and Mark Adams.

"Hey David!"
"How are you feeling?"
"Any hot nurses?"

I smiled and hugged my friends.

"It's really good to be back home."
"I'm sure. You didn't look so good at the hospital."
"Yes, it was quite apparent that you were on lots of painkillers."
"I bet you're really eager to wank off."

We all looked at Mark.

"What, if I go a day without using mine--"
"Please do not finish that sentence."

Aaron was Mormon, and he always got really uncomfortable whenever Mark talked about sex or anything that had to do with sex.

"Well, there's food, soda, a cake too."
"And after the party, we're gonna go back to my house to study for APUSH."
"Oh yeah, I'm taking my AP tests at another date."
"Really? Why?"
"My doctor said that I should take the rest of the semester off."

It was as much a shock for them as it was for me.

"Well, he said that although I didn't have any major injuries, I would have a lot of emotional trauma and that I should just focus on dealing with it."
"There's only a few more weeks left of school. What about finals?"
"Take-home finals."
"And the Showcase Concert?"
"Oh my God, I totally forgot about that."

Dr. McKendrick was right. There was no reason for me to go back to school right now, but there was so much I had to do.

"Look, I don't want to miss any school, but my doctors say that this will be better for me."
"I guess if that's what your doctors say. So why don't we go to the Coffee Plantation instead."

My friends looked at me, and they suddenly remembered.

"Sorry, man. Forgot that Joy works there."
"But it's not like she works there all the time."


Michael answered his phone.

"Hey babe."

I had totally forgotten that Michael had gotten back together with his on-again/off-again girlfriend, Leslie Lawrence.

"Yeah? Yeah. Okay, I'll be there soon. No, you hang up first. No YOU. Okay, we'll hang up at the same time. 1-2-3. You didn't hang up either!"

Mark grabbed Michael's cell phone and closed it.

"What the hell was that?"
"I don't know, why don't you ask yourself that little question about that conversation? You hang up first, no YOU hang up first, no YOU hang up--"
"Fuck you. I'm meeting Leslie for a movie. See you guys later."

Of all the times that Michael and Leslie have dated, this was the most interesting so far.

After a couple more hours, people started leaving, and Mark and Aaron started cleaning up.

"Do you guys need any help," I asked lethargically.
"No, you need your rest."
"No objections here. Thanks so much for this. It was really nice of you guys to pull this all together, although I didn't talk to anyone other than you guys."
"Well, we're a lot more interesting than everyone else that was here."
"Good point."

We laughed for a while, and I decided to turn on the T.V. One of my favorite episodes of Family Guy was on. In the episode, Peter and Lois compete in a talent show and smoke marijuana to get some "inspiration". But there was one part that I had forgotten about.


And just like that I was imagining the entire accident again; the green arrow, the screeching tires, the sound of the impact, screaming at the top of my lungs for help. I sat frozen on the couch, my eyes focused not on the television, but on the memory. I was no longer sitting on my couch in my living room. I was lying motionless in my car. I was zoning out; losing energy as I heard the sound of an ambulence coming to my rescue. The sound faded as my eyes closed and I felt as if my entire life was flashing before me.


I was brought out of my trance by Aaron's voice.

"Yeah. Sorry."
"Maybe we should turn off the T.V."
"Yeah, maybe."

I still was not in full mind. I could not focus on anything other than the images of the passenger side airbag popping out, the window of the door shattered, and the crash of more glass as Rebellion rolled.

Aaron and Mark put my arms around them, helped me up the stairs to my room, and placed me under the covers of my bed. I was motionless, remembering. And soon I was asleep, and in my dream I relived it over and over again. I felt the impact of the accident at least six times that night.

When I woke up, I felt the most agonizing pain I had ever felt. I stumbled downstairs, where my mom was sitting.

"Where are my pills?"
"Right there on the counter. How are you feeling?"
"Like a piece of my spinal cord is being sawed off of me."
"Well, just take a couple of the pills, and you should be fine."

I took the pills and grabbed an ice pack from the freezer. I sat down on the couch and my mom turned to me.

"So Aaron and Mark said that you had some sort of panic last night."
"Yeah. I just couldn't stop thinking about it. Will I ever stop thinking about it?"
"I think so. You just need to take it easy. And I agree with Dr. McKendrick. You really should take the rest of the semester off."

I sat and thought for a moment before I replied.

"I have to go back to school."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. If I don't go back, all I'll be thinking about is the accident. I'll wait to take my AP tests if I can, but I have to do something to take my mind off of it."
"School's not gonna be too much to handle?"
"Well, I won't really have any work to do in history or English, so I just have to worry about math and chemistry. And besides, the Showcase concert is next week, and I at least want to sing backstage."
"Do you remember where the bus stop is?"
"Mom, it hasn't been that long since I've ridden the bus."
"Alright. I guess you'll go back on Monday."

When I returned on Monday, I explained everything to my teachers, and the College Board was called in order to schedule my make-up exams. On the day of the APUSH test, my teacher, Mr. Jackson, worked with me on refreshing my facts. I had already aced my practice test a few weeks prior, and therefore I would not have to take the final. On the day of the English exam, I requested to make up an Algebra test, and after my Algebra test, I walked back to English.

On the way back to Mrs. Meyer's classroom, I thought once again about everything that had happened, and this time, I thought about what would happen next. When would the flashbacks stop? Would I ever be able to drive again? And then I thought of my father, and how I was ever going to face him. When would I face him? Would I want to face him?

"David Adler, please report to the main office. David Adler, please report to the main office."

I walked as quickly as I could to the main office. I approached the secretary, not paying attention to who else was in the office.

"Hi, I was called here about a minute ago."
"Hello, David."

I stopped dead in my tracks, took a deep breath, and turned around to see the face of the last man I wanted to see.

David Adler
Normal High School Student