the art of peer pressure

I

“Come on Damian, it’s just a shot.”

The dark, spacious room was illuminated by vibrant red lights. Damian felt animosity with everyone in the space. Loud music blared from tattered speakers, sheepish human beings danced senselessly. Damian’s friends took down shot after shot, each time with an increasingly dreary cheer afterwards. Sweat trickled down his cheek, and his eyes blinked in all directions. Damian’s friends slammed the table with their fists and jeered like a pack of primitive gorillas. Damian wanted more than anything to be anywhere else.

“Damian, your grades are slipping.” Damian’s mother was lenient. She had been strict in the past, but at this point of her young boy’s life, she was a blind driver trying hopelessly to steer her son onto the right road. But she had tried every means possible, and he kept running the red lights and faltering off the road. 

II

At this point, Damian was reeling shots into his mouth like it was water, and he had a thirst for acceptance. The boys were cheering him on, the girls were staring in shock. Here was the smartest, classiest boy in school behaving like the unintelligent, ashiest of the ashiest. The red lights blurred into a confusing purple, and the cheers of the people became an unusual reverb. Sounds from several seconds ago appeared two seconds later, sounds from the last year were still echoing now. The people became a sea, a traffic jam of unknowingness. Damian sweated profusely, he threw his hands out but could not seem to grasp his consciousness. The purple distortion dissipated, and all that was left was a black plane of nothingness.

“Damian, this isn’t right.” Jaden was just like Damian. They were both very intelligent and discussed everything from systematic racism to society’s mishaps. What set Jaden apart was that he was firm in his beliefs, and was not tempted even the slightest by the green lights of drugs and alcohol. 

“Jaden, you do know that shrooms aren’t bad for you at all.”

“That’s not the frickin point Jaden, you don’t want to get expelled.”

“Yeah, maybe I want to get expelled. I just want to move to Germany or America or something. I hate how everyone’s the same here.”

“And so you think taking shrooms will solve the problem?”

“I just… I just want to escape man.”

III

Damian fought hard to keep his eyes open, he was in a sunken place, grasping for his sanity. While he previously hated the club lights, he was grasping for any light at all. His so called “friends” were no where to be seen. Slowly but surely, Damian dragged himself out of his sunken place, but no one was there to guide him.

“Mrs. Jones, I think he’s near here, this is the road he told me.” affirmed Jaden.

“Thank you Jaden, thank you.” Damian’s mother responded. She drove a little more to find an appropriate place to park.

Damian reached out his arms and shouted for anyone and everyone. Every step felt like he was dragging a hundred kilos. Finally, he managed to get his feet under his body and cried out as he struggled to stand up. He found the light and pulled his feet out of the door, onto the road. He looked to the right and was greeted with a thousand lights at once.

“MRS. JONES, STOP THE CAR.” shouted Jaden. Mrs. Jones slammed her foot on the breaks and gasped in horror. Seconds felt like hours, and the car screeched. Mrs. Jones feared for the worst, and closed her eyes. When she opened them, a bright red light shone in her eyes. She was barely an inch away from a civilian and got out of the car immediately.

Damian could barely focus his vision, but he could recognise those eyes anywhere. Tears fell down those tender, pale brown eyes.

Mrs. Jones could barely recognise her son in his horribly dishevelled appearance. His hair was a gravesite, his posture a funeral.

“Mom, I’m so sorry…”

Mrs. Jones hugged her son tightly.

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