Usually these stories are first-hand accounts, but this is a story about my best friend, Beth. She cannot tell it herself because she died a long time ago, when she was 16. We had been friends since kindergarten and I knew her as well as she knew herself, so I am pretty qualified in assuming what was going though her head that night, and the moments leading up to the accident.
6 months before that night, she fell head-over-heels for a guy at our school that was 2 years older than us. She really was infatuated by this guy. I would say that we hung out with a bunch of pretty well mannered girls – we didn’t get into trouble or do anything extra rebellious. This guy threw a wrench into our group. He was the typical clichéd bad boy and I really saw through him, but not Beth. She didn’t really have any experience with guys, usually too shy to initiate anything, so when this guy took interest in her, she melted at his every word. After a few months, she had fallen deeper and deeper – it was affecting our friendship a little bit, and definitely affecting her school work. She was a straight ‘A’ student, but had started failing a couple tests. The more she loved him, the less he loved her back. I told her on numerous occasions to not be so needy, but she got angry with me and told me to mind my own damn business.
By the time this ill-fated night approached, he was really over her and she was panicked about it, like their relationship was hanging off a cliff and she was desperately digging her nails into the ground to try and save it. It was apparent to a few of us that he was just using her for an easy date on the weekends. He didn’t really want anything to do with her during the week or at school anymore.
This Saturday night, he asked her to go along with him to a party and she jumped at the invitation. I had a part-time job and was working that night, so I didn’t go with them. They had stopped at one of his friends’ house first and he had had a few drinks. They were there longer than originally planned – this quick stop lasted a couple of hours. Beth’s mom had called her at about 10.30pm to see where she was. This wasn’t out of the ordinary – like I mentioned earlier, she was a good girl, had a great relationship with her mom, and always kept her mom informed as to where she was and what she was doing.
“Has he been drinking?”
“No mom! Don’t be silly. Trust me.”
“It’s not you I don’t trust, honey... it’s him I don’t trust. I can be there in 10 minutes to pick you up. You just say the word.”
“Mom! I’ll be fine. Love you! Bye.”
Her mother told me some time later about this conversation, so I can re-tell it with accuracy. I knew her so well and without a doubt this is what was going through Beth’s mind: If I tell him that my mom is coming to pick me up, he will think I’m a loser! If I don’t go with him to the party, he’ll probably hook up with some other chick, and I can’t let that happen. No way! Besides, it’s only 5 minutes up the road, we’ll be fine. It’s not like he’s stumbling; he’s only had a couple beers. Worst case scenario is that I get mom to pick me up from the party in a little while. No big deal.
What happened next? They got into his car and proceeded to the party. The stretch between the 2 houses was a favourite amongst speeders to begin with. It was a 60km zone and by the time he got to the inclining curve near the opposite end, he was up to about 120km, because that was the speed they estimated he was going when he lost control and slammed into a concrete pole. Beth was killed instantly and he walked away with only minor injuries.
He was released on probation after only serving 3 years in jail... but I lost my best friend, and her mother lost her daughter forever. If only she wasn’t so desperate to hold on to this loser, but I could sit here and write about “what if” scenarios all day. She was a smart young woman that let her insecurities over one guy cloud her judgement for a moment, and she paid for it with her life.
There is a permanent memorial wrapped around that pole and although I greatly try to avoid that stretch of road, whenever I do drive past, I always tell her that I have missed her every day since.