No way is this My Fault - Jan Edwards

Like I already told the cops, it was nobody's idea. We were just down on the beach at Sea Lane hanging out after school, not even drinking beer or anything. Then we all got in Russ Mendenhall's car. But it was definitely not my idea. You should write that down.

I almost didn't go because I had to be home for dinner, but it was only like 4:30 and Marianne said she wouldn't go unless I did. She has, I guess I should say she had this big thing for Kent Hawkins and wouldn't take no for an answer. I never thought he was that cool, but whatever. Kent and Russ are in eleventh, and Marianne and I are in eighth, so she hardly ever gets to, got to, see him. Now I wish I said no, but too late, right?

So anyway all six of us get in the car, Kent and Russ and Russ's little sister Torrey and her friend Savannah. They're in fifth at Bird Rock. The front was bucket seats so we four girls got in the back all piled on each other's laps.

I think the plan was to drop Torrey and Savannah off at the rec center. That's what they kept whining about, but for some reason, I guess just to tease them, Russ kept driving around in a big circle past the rec and wouldn't stop to let them out.

It was on one of those circles that we drove down the alley behind the dentist's office and Kent saw the gas. It was just sitting outside near the back door. The cops are looking into why it was left there unprotected which is against the law. You can ask them about that. Anyway, there were three tank thingies, but Kent just grabbed one and jumped back in the passenger seat screaming for Russ to drive away. And he did, super fast.

Now there was no way the little girls were going to get dropped off, I guess because Russ didn't want them to tell. So instead we all drove to the parking lot in front of the surf shack at Windansea. And there were lots of other cars parked there, like always to watch the sunset, so it's not like somebody couldn't have helped.

Torrey was mad at Russ at first, but he talked her and Savannah into trying some of the laughing gas. Kent kept telling us the whole time how great it made you feel, just happy and laughing, and it didn't hurt you at all or they wouldn't let dentists use it. He was fiddling with the tank, working on getting it open. The problem was that there was not a good way to do the gas. No way to breathe it in, no tube or mask or whatever you were supposed to have to fit on to the valve thing. He was afraid if he just opened the valve it would all escape before we could get high.

Marianne and I never did any drugs, we didn't even smoke cigarettes I swear, so it was weird that she was the one that got the idea to roll up the windows and open the tank. That way the gas would just stay inside the car and we could all get as high as we want.

I get now that this was really stupid, but they all keep saying we should have known better, like they teach kids that in Laughing Gas 101 or something. But at the time, no one saw any problem. I guess it has to do with pressure or something.

Anyway, the tank looked pretty little compared to all the air inside the car, and we thought it might not work because there maybe wasn't going to be enough gas. So when Kent cranked open the valve, we all started to take really deep breaths so we could get as much as we could in our lungs before it was all gone. But before we could start laughing or even see if we felt high, we were blanking out.

I don't actually remember the rest, but the surfers in the lot told the cops I opened the door and was coughing and fell out onto the ground. But when I fell, I somehow pushed the door shut again and my back was leaning against it making it hard for anybody inside to open it. And now it sounds like they found Savannah with her hand on that door like she was trying to get out.

I heard them say in the emergency room that if only I had not shut the door again, maybe no one would have died. And I just want to say I had no control over that and wish to god I had not fallen like that to block the door. I also cut my leg on something and had to get twelve stitches. But now it feels like everybody is blaming me instead of being glad at least one person lived through it.

And I didn't even want to go in the car with them, I only did it because Marianne begged.

And remember, there were three other doors on that car and nobody opened them. The doctor said the others must have already passed out before they realized, but that's not my fault, is it?

Did they tell you I might have brain damage? They don't know if it is permanent or not, but when they asked if I knew who was president I got the last name right but forgot the Lyndon part. My dad thinks I maybe would have missed that even before the gas.

And why didn't Russ drop the girls at the rec? That's on him for sure. Kent was the one that stole the gas tank. Why aren't they blaming him? What about the pot heads who were standing around watching in the parking lot and didn't bother to come over and pull open the doors?

All I did was fall the wrong way while I was unconscious and it's like the entire thing is my fault.

Like I was supposed to have read some pamphlet all about the dangers of opening laughing gas in a car and then stop it from happening. Or drag everybody to safety, like Superman or something, before I passed out! Who knows, that's probably what I was trying to do.

It would make a better story if I had died too, everybody could just be sad. Instead they have to keep saying how lucky I am. Well fuck them!

Don't print that, Okay? I know it seems like I'm not very sad, but that's because I'm still in shock. When it hits me I'm going to cry my eyes out. Did I say I might have brain damage? When is this going to run, anyway?


Back to Short Stories

Back to Jan Edwards,Writer

Back to