Jack had never been as excited for a school day as he did now because today marked the date he would finally get the brownies that he had longed for, for over a month. When the bell rang for lunchtime, he rushed to the door of his classroom and made his way into the hallway with all the other students. Before he went into the bathroom, he tried to contain his nervousness since it was his first time doing anything that was considered illegal. Clearing his throat, and running his fingers through his shaggy hair, he walked in, and he saw the dealer Bernard leaning against the wall on the opposite side.
“What’s good bro?” He asked, trying to keep his cool as he joined him in the darkest corner of the bathroom. Bernard, who was on his phone, looked up and stared at him for what felt like forever before responding.
“You know, always getting money one way or another, I’m going to be fucking with some new shit soon, and I’ll hit you up.”
“Nah, I’m good with the ganja bro, I don’t do all that other crazy shit.” Bernard nodded at that and regarded Jack with a look of understanding.
“To each his own, but look don’t do more than two, cause I put the fire in these, and I’m going to throw in the fifth one for five dollars cause you’re my boy.”
“Thanks bro, give me a sec.” Grabbing his wallet from his back pocket, he removes money from it and hands it to Bernard who counts the money, look at the door to see if anyone is entering before removing the brownies from his bag and handing them to him. Jack grabs them immediately and puts all but one of them in his book bag.
“Thanks, man, I’ll see you soon”
“Alright, you know I always come through. Enjoy”
Exiting the bathroom, Jack walks out into the courtyard where only a few people are sitting on the grass, eating their lunches on top of blankets. Breathing in, he takes in the scenery before finally sitting down beside a tree. He removes the brownie from his pocket and eats it slowly and mindfully.
The rest of the afternoon passes in a blur.
By the time school ends, Jack’s head is in the clouds. As he awaits for the school bus, he allows his brain to wander off into timeless regions. He can feel the pulsating breath of the person next to him and asks himself the reason behind the human need for oxygen.
By the time he steps onto the bus he has more unanswered questions:
Why are lockers convenient? Why doesn’t the human race carry their loads upon their shoulders and deal with the pain? But what if they did? What would the world be like?
When the time reaches three o’clock, Jack finally arrives at his stop. Getting off the bus, he begins to walk home using the alleys as shortcuts. His whole body is warm but he shivers with coldness as he takes in his surroundings. Putting his hands in his pockets, he zips up his jacket although its eighty degrees outside.
Finally inside the comforts of his own home, Jack breathes in scented rosemary and walks into the kitchen, expecting his grandma to be there cooking. The pink and white old kitchen with its chipped linoleum and dusty wooden chairs are exactly where they should be, beside the window that occupies the only white wall in the entire kitchen.
“Grandma?” Jack calls from the top of his lungs. When no one answers, he begins to panic and wonders where she could have gone. Never in the years, that he had lived with her, had she not been home when he had come after school. It was strange and it made him scared and alone. Desperately looking around for any signs of notes that she could have left, he finds one on the refrigerator door.
Left to go buy groceries with the girls, and then I’m going to Lucy’s house for some bingo…Yes, old people have fun too. Anyways, be home around midnight, in the meantime help yourself to the lasagna that I left for you in the fridge.
Jack chuckles under his breath and sighs in relief; as long as she was safe, he was okay. He didn’t know why the thought of her leaving her crossed his mind. Removing the brownies from his book bag, he opens up the refrigerator and places them inside for a moment as he takes out the lasagna.
He warms up a plate for himself and then goes upstairs into his bedroom. Jack spreads himself onto his bed and allows the buzz to pull him into a deep slumber.
It’s not until the sky turns dark that he opens his eyes. Looking at the clock, it hits him with sudden realization that he overslept for the clock reads 10 p.m. Getting up from his position, he shuffles downstairs.
“Jack, is that you?” His grandma calls from the kitchen. Her voice sounding muffled.
“Yeah, you’re home earl-” Jack widened his eyes at the scene before him. His grandma sat at the wooden table beside the window, surrounded by wrappers and a half-eaten brownie. It finally occurred to him that he never removed them when grabbing his food.
“Whoever made these brownies are really bad when it comes to baking. They taste weird.”
“How many did you have?” He asks, looking around in an attempt to count himself, just in case she would miss one out. His grandma looked up from her feast and at Jack, her face smooth, and brown hair pulled back into a small ponytail.
“Don’t worry, there’s two more left, and I’ll make more this weekend, because these aren’t that good,” she said, before stuffing the rest into her mouth.
“Two more left?!” Jack could feel his stomach clench up, and he felt nauseated as panic began to rise along with the food he had eaten earlier. “I think I’m going to be sick.”
Grandma analyzed Jack for the first time, “Is there something wrong?”
Jack opened his mouth to let out all his guilt and panic but then thought against it, afraid of what it would mean if Grandma knew.
“They were for a friend,” he spat out. He tried to conceal his worry that seemed to grow with each passing moment. Her facial expression changed to one of sympathy.
“Oh, I’m so sorry Jack. You should have told me; I would have never touched them had I known.”
“It’s okay Grandma, I’ll just have to find another present to give to them.”
“Aw, okay. Well, sorry.” Getting up from her seat, his grandma deposited the wrappers, giving Jack the right moment to make a beeline upstairs. Grabbing his phone immediately, he dialed the only person who would know what to do.
Bernard answered on the first ring.
“Dude, my grandma ate two brownies.” There was a moment of silence on the other end before Bernard burst out laughing.
“Holy shit! That’s hilarious as fuck, and I thought my day was bad. Yours is worse!” Jack’s blood began to boil, and he tightened his jaw.
“Bro, this is serious! What’s going to happen to her? Is she going to be okay?!”
“Fuck, you think? That bitch will be high as hell, hopefully high enough to not beat your ass afterward. Don’t worry, she’ll be cool just let her ride it out. Make sure she doesn’t call anyone and say stupid shit cause then you’re really in trouble.”
Bernard hung up and Jack’s legs gave out from beneath him, causing him to fall to the ground where he laid for what seemed like forever. He thought of all the possibilities that could happen. His grandma was sixty years old. Would it really be that bad? Would her body be able to take it? Would she die? How long would it last? All these questions circled around Jacks mind over and over again.
When the clock struck 12 Jack got up from his hard floor and tentatively opened his door to listen in on the noise downstairs. The TV was on and Channel 7 News was playing for a short while before it changed.
Going down the stairs quietly, he stopped when he could see her from the stairwell. His grandma was sitting on her lounge chair peacefully, and it seemed as though the situation never happened except for the fact that his grandma didn’t really seem like his grandma. She was twitching in her seat, her eyes were bloodshot and barely open. Unable to focus on the television, she turned it off and stared at the blank screen.
“Do you ever think about aliens?” she asked him, words drawn out, as though she was slurring. Jacks heart raced at the sound of her voice.
“Grandma, are you okay?” He asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine, it’s just that they’re watching us.”
“Who’s watching us?” With that, his grandma tore her gaze from the TV screen and looked up at Jack as though he was a stranger.
“They’ve always been watching us. The aliens.”
Jacks eyes widened slightly at her remark and rushing down the rest of the stairs, he went into the kitchen to fill up a glass of water.
He realized then how fragile his grandma really was. The way she spoke was strange and the way she twitched was so abnormal. Closing his eyes, he breathed in and tried to suppress the fact that he had really done something wrong. Leaning against the refrigerator in an attempt to cool down his overheated face, he began to listen in on her. There was silence in the other room, and Jack grew worried wondering what she was up to. He stopped what he was doing and tried to hear well.
There were mummers coming from where she was at.
“Grandma?” He called, as he swung the door open into the living room. She was sitting on the floor, hunched over, beside the sofa next to her lounge chair, her back to him.
“They’re coming…….please………no listen…..help…” Jack’s heartbeat raced as he cautiously walked over to her, only to realize that there was a phone against her ear.
“Who are you talking to?” he asked, before grabbing the phone from her frail fingers, not even wanting to wait for an answer because he was afraid of all the possibilities.
“If you don’t give me that phone right this instant!” she shouted as she tried to yank it from him unsuccessfully.
“Hi, who is this?”
“Sir, if this is a prank call you will be subject to arrest.”
Jack cursed under his breath and felt the panic and anger begin to overcome him again.
“Jack. Phone. Now” At that moment Jack finally turned around to look at his grandma, red eyed and twitching, and burst out with the truth.
“Grandma, you’re high! The brownies that you ate were weed brownies, I’m sorry that I left them in the refrigerator and I hope you can forgive me once you’re sober enough and able to think clearly.” He began to cry from all the anger that had built up inside of him. His grandma stopped what she was doing and just stared at her grandson as realization finally hit her.
“I don’t feel so well.” His grandma said, stepping back into her chair. Her face was twisted into pain and she grabbed her chest and closed her eyes.
“Sir!” the dispatcher said.
“Are you okay?” Jack asked, instinctively dropping the phone and running to her side.
“Is your heart supposed to beat this fast?” Leaning in, he checked her pulse and forced himself to not gasp because her heartrate was becoming erratic.
Running to the phone that was still on the floor, he grabbed it and ordered an ambulance to come to the house quickly. Going back to his grandma, he tried to calm her breathing down. He told her she was having an anxiety attack, and not to worry because it was to go away soon.
Once the ambulance arrived, Jack stepped back and watched them aid his grandma, who was on the chair, breathing heavily and half awake.
“Is she going to be okay?” he asked as they pulled her onto a gurney, and brought her to the truck.
“She’ll be fine, don’t worry. Are you her son?” the woman asked him as they stepped insi2de the vehicle.
“Her grandson,” he said. With that, silence fell upon both of them.
For the rest of the ride, he watched as they checked her vital signs and attached an oxygen mask to her face. Jack told them what had happened to her. When they arrived at the hospital, they brought her to the ICU to pump her stomach.
By the time, they were done, his grandma had already begun to fall asleep. The nurses connected her to machines to monitor her heart rate, and blood pressure.
“Just rest and by the time you wake up, you should feel better,” the doctor stated before removing himself from the room.
When Jack and his grandma were finally alone, his grandma looked at him and scoffed.
“I didn’t know you were doing that. Hell, I didn’t even know you can eat marijuana too. Then again I don’t know anything about that stuff.”
Jack looked down at his shoes in dismay. He felt guilty for doing what he had done to the only person who he had come to trust and love the most.
“Look at me, boy.” Her voice rang with power and immediately Jack did as he was told.
“When I found out that your mother had left you, I took you as my own. I raised you to become a boy opposite of that.”
“I’m sorry, Grandma.”
“Promise me you won’t do that again.”
“I promise. Now get some sleep,” Jack said. He got up from his chair and tucked his grandma in. He then gave her a kiss.
“Don’t tell me what to do, only I can do that. And don’t kiss me either, that feels weird.” Jack laughed as she turned away from him, and closed her eyes.
Soon she had fallen asleep, and it was then that Jack decided that if doing what he liked meant hurting his grandma in the process, he wouldn’t do it all.
That’s just how he was.