Your Mind Was Elsewhere

Jake T

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You stare at the clock. It’s Friday, and it’s your birthday. With five minutes left in the school day, you can’t resist thinking about tonight’s plans instead of listening to your teacher’s lecture on polynomial figures. Your friends haven’t let anything slip, but you know they’re planning something. They’re great friends, the type of friends who would never let your birthday go uncelebrated. You think of what they may be organizing. Some type of surprise party, definitely, but what’s the theme? Tropical? Sports? Dancing? Campout? All things that you love. Filled with joy and thoughts of what the night has in store, the bell’s ring sends you sprinting out of the classroom. The second you arrive home, you receive a text from your best friend. Hey. Come to my house at 7. We have a little surprise for you… You smile. See you at seven!! you reply with excitement. You think about how amazing your friends are, how much you love them. The next few hours are spent getting ready. You blast music the whole time, dancing through your house while preparing for the night. Elated, you belt the words to every song. You dance around stupidly. You laugh at yourself. You put on your favorite outfit, the outfit that makes you feel like a model when looking in the mirror. At 6:45, you leave, kissing your parents goodbye on the way out. Still happy as ever, you pull out of your driveway. The route to your best friend’s house is burned into the back of your mind, so you let your brain take over on autopilot and enjoy the ride, reflecting on the coming night. You think of all your friends waiting in a dark room–probably right now, in fact– to surprise you. You think of a big birthday cake, probably vanilla with chocolate icing– your favorite. You think of all the laughs you are to deliver, all the memories you are to make, all the fun you are to have… Suddenly, your thinking stops. Your friends turn on the lights at 7:15. You aren’t the type to show up late to anything, especially not your own birthday party. Your best friend nervously calls you to no response, proceeding to contact your parents. Perhaps you didn’t leave the house yet. But you did. They rush to your friend’s house, horrified. They try calling again and again, until your mom receives a call from the hospital down the road. You are there. The hospital worker tells them you’re in critical condition. Critical condition. He tells your parents and friends that you failed to stop at a stop sign, apparently not thinking about the car hurtling down the road that collided directly with yours. You had other thoughts on your mind. Your head suffered a major blow. Doctors are trying to bring you back to consciousness. The whole party races to the hospital. Upon arriving, the doctor speaks to your parents. She begins with “We did everything we could.” She doesn’t have to say more; your parents begin to sob uncontrollably. Everyone begins sobbing uncontrollably. The doctor lets them into your room, to see you one last time before you’re in a coffin. Your best friend leaves their present on your bedside table. The card is drenched in tears. “Happy Birthday,” it reads. It would have been happier, though, if you didn’t drive distracted. If you focused your mind on the road, instead of on anything else. Your birthday would have been truly happy if you didn’t die behind the wheel. Next time, focus on what’s important: your life.