If I Could Go Back and Warn Them: Your Future is Key, so Stay Drug-Free.
Writing contest entry written by: Anyston Lyon
They tried to warn us years ago, but we didn’t listen. People taught us about the usage of drugs and other substances in schools, how it could kill us; ruin our future. Well, it’s the future now in 2023, and they were right: the world is falling apart. Everyone is miserable, with sallow, sunken-in eyes, and thinned out faces. Now there’s a drug den on every corner, a bar on every block, and no one seems to have the willpower to stop. Everything is silent and gloomy anywhere you go, and the streets reek of alcohol and drugs, the smell becoming so horrible people couldn’t even identify what it was anymore. The death rates were higher than ever, and people as young as 14 were doing drugs, smoking, drinking, or worse! It seems that everyone has fallen victim to the evil substances. Everyone except me.
I seem to be the only graduate who has kept my blood and body completely clean for all these years through school, no matter how many people gave in. It gets difficult sometimes, sure, but I live through it. Some days more difficult than others, of course.
“This day seems to be particularly difficult.” I said through gritted teeth. Everyone crowded me, pressuring me, trying to lead me down the wrong path. My family, my friends, my own sister…everyone fell victim to it. I ran through the house, slamming doors behind me, until I finally collapsed on my bed, tears streaming down my face, too tired to be mad. As I cried myself to sleep, my last thought was: If only I could go back, and warn everyone about this. I could change everything…
My eyes shot wide open, and I sat straight up in my bed. I wiped the tear stains off my face, and walked across the hardwood floor of my house. “There's something really off here.” I thought. But what? It was my room, in my house. It was just how I left it, messy and full of drawings--my eyes narrowed at that. Wait. My room hasn't been this messy since I was in middle school….
Realization hit me like lightning. I rushed out the front door, and took a deep breath in. Nothing but the smell of morning dew in the air met my senses and I let out a triumphant laugh. 2017, I thought happily. Oh, sweet, innocent 2017. I began to run at full speed toward Eighth Street Middle School.
I finally reached the school, completely winded, but wild with joy. Everything looked so…beautiful. I guess I never realized it, because it was part of everyday life, but now that I could see the beautiful world where it wasn't coated in a layer of smoke and drugs, and nothing reeked of alcohol, I was almost ashamed for not noticing it before. The way the orange of the sunrise bled into the grey blue of the morning sky, the pure cold of the autumn breeze biting your skin, the sound of middle school students talking and laughing like bells ringing through the air, so happy and free, not corrupted by anything. And there, in the midst of all the beautiful chaos, sat a girl. She pushed her glasses up on her nose as she wrote in her journal, her brown hair tumbling over her shoulders. My eyes widened and my breath hitched. That’s me. Same eyes, same determined expression, and same half smile that I never knew I had. I felt tears well up in my eyes, and I thought, “This could be it. The way to warn them all. I can change the future.”
I walked up and sat down beside her- um, me. I read over her shoulder at the words she wrote. It was a plan for something, I could tell, but before I could read any more, the paper was ripped out and crumpled into a ball. Past-me was about to throw it across the schoolyard, and leave it for someone to throw away forever, when I grabbed her arm and held it there. She jumped, dropping the crumpled paper and looking up at me with wide eyes.
“Who are you? What do you want?” She asked with raised eyebrows. I didn’t answer, and picked the crumpled piece of paper off the ground where past-me had thrown it. I unfolded it, with sounds of protest from the other me, and I read. I smiled. I was right, this was going to change the future. Your Future Is Key, So Stay Drug-Free, The paper read. I looked back at other me and handed her back the paper. “Cool idea. Why don’t you try it?” I asked.
“No one would care, or like it. It’s not worth it. Besides, it’s not like it will make a difference later on.” She answered, looking down. I could feel myself cringe inwardly. She had no idea.
“Yes it does.” I answered, surprised at how steely I sounded. “Just try.” She blinked in surprise, shocked into silence for a few minutes. She nodded slowly and got up, starting to walk towards the door of the school.
“Ok. I will, thanks!” She called over her shoulder. I smiled, leaning back against the black metal column. Maybe I can’t save the world, but I did help save one person…
My eyes fluttered open once more, and I felt my heart drop. I was back to the normal world. I closed my eyes again, and half of me was preparing for the day to come, and the other half of me was praying that I could go back to the other time, but I was still met with the same world. I slid out of bed, got dressed, walked outside…and froze. No smell. I looked around to see a clear vision of trees and houses beside me, and no bottles lined the streets. The dawn faded into the day, just like it did before. I let out a triumphant half-laugh, half-sob of joy as tears spilled down my cheeks. By telling one person, by raising awareness once, I stopped the misery that drugs can cause. Your future is key, so stay drug free, I thought. We are the future we have yet to change. Take a stand and tell someone, for you can make a life worth living.