It started out all fun and games. To kick the night off, my friends and I went to a haunted house and afterward we played chubby bunny—a game in which I was crowned champion! The night was turning into what was sure to be a highlight of my senior year of high school, but I could have never anticipated the turn of events that slowly turned this night into the absolute worst of my life.
When we were done with chubby bunny and loitering around suburbia, we decided that two of us would spend the night at my friend Alex’s house (who was also with us). It was about 10:30 p.m., and my mom was already asleep, which was strange for her. I gently woke her to ask if I could spend the night out. My mom knew that I didn’t drink and wouldn’t be getting into trouble, so she said I could. But she sounded extremely irritated at me for asking. I don’t remember all the details, but I was a senior now, and I was just happy to be getting a taste of freedom! As we left the house, my stepdad followed us out, and set the alarm to the house (remember this, because it will come back in the story later).
As we were heading to our cars, I remember talking about how I wouldn’t be able to stay up too late, because I had to wake up early for a dance rehearsal … Yes, a dance rehearsal. I was part of the school choir, and for our fall show, we were doing a tribute to Michael Jackson, so I had to learn how to sing and dance. As we got to our cars, one of my friends decided to bail on the night. We were disappointed, but knew we would have fun anyway.
So we got into my car and drove to Alex’s house. Halfway there, Alex called home to let his parents know that we were coming. This is where things really start to fall apart. See, we had brought Alex’s brother Andre with us. Andre was a year older than us, but he also has Aspergers, and Alex’s mother was mad at Alex for keeping him out so late. When Alex hung up the phone, he broke the news to me that he was in trouble and that I could no longer spend the night.
So after I dropped the two of them off, I did what any other teenager would do: I called all of my friends to see if I could spend the night with them. I was a senior, I liked the feel of the freedom I had, and I didn’t want to ruin it by going home and tripping the house alarm! There was just one problem with my plan–nobody I called would answer their phone.
I drove around my neighborhood for 30 minutes calling people before I decided to park in the lot of a nearby Dairy Queen. I didn’t have much money, and my 1998 Tahoe was running low on gas. This is where things start to take a turn for the worse. I stepped out of the car for a second to analyze the situation, and immediately jumped back in. It was freezing outside! It was probably about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature practically unheard of for mid-October in the state of Alabama—and I was not dressed properly either. All I had to wear was shorts and a t-shirt!
As I got back in the car, I tried re-calling a few friends. A few calls, no answers, and next thing I knew, my phone was dead! It was a little after midnight at this point, and I figured the best thing to do was to try driving to a nearby friend’s house and pray he was there—anything to not go back home and risk setting off the alarm. When I put my keys in the ignition, I found that my car, like my phone, was also dead. So I was completely stranded in the parking lot of a Dairy Queen. Things had taken a turn for the worse.
I tried to sleep, but only got about an hour in before the cold woke me up. The cold kept me up, and I never got another wink in. Hours passed with me rocking myself back and forth in the fetal position in order to keep warm. At around 4:30 a.m., someone parked in the lot next to me-they were heading into Anytime Fitness next door. I jumped out of my car and they took off in a dead sprint into the building–which you needed a code to get into. Around 5:00 a.m., a few more people showed up, all with the same reaction. I guess they all thought I was trying to rob them, because I was running out from behind a dumpster.
At 5:30 a.m., an old man tried to help me. He had jumper cables. We latched them on, and he told me to start my car. I told him it needed to charge for a second, and he said that was nonsense. So I tried starting it, and because it hadn’t charged, it didn’t work. I tried to reason with him, but the old man took off the cables and left me.
It was 6:00 a.m. now. I was only about a mile from my high school, so I decided I would just walk there. The walk was terrible, but janitors had arrived early, and the doors were open! Finally something good happened: I crawled up next to the door of the choir room, and slept for about an hour before people started showing up. I then got to spend the next eight hours singing and dancing like Michael Jackson.
It was the Worst. Experience. Ever.